Dynaforce wouldn't mind a little cut in the ground when she defends her crown in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) over Belmont Park's inner turf course Oct. 3.
The 6-year-old Dynaformer mare found the "good" going on Arlington Park's turf course in the Aug. 1 Beverly D. (gr. IT) much to her liking, drawing off to a 1 1 /4-length win with Kent Desormeaux aboard to end a three-race losing streak. Her prior win came over "yielding" ground in last year's Flower Bowl, which she captured in front-running fashion by four lengths.
Trained by Bill Mott for owner/breeder John A. Chandler, those are Dynaforce's only wins from eight starts over the past two years. After starting her career in Europe, she has won five of 15 starts overall and went over the $1-million mark in career earnings ($1,080,772) with the Beverly D. victory. That win also guaranteed Dynaforce a slot in the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Nov. 6, a race she finished eighth in last year.
Desormeaux is back aboard the bay, who carries top weight of 123 pounds and breaks from post 3.
The Flower Bowl, at 10 furlongs, attracted a field of eight fillies and mares. There are several strong contenders against Dynaforce, including the likely favorite, Pure Clan, who has split decisions with Dynaforce in their last two starts. The Flower Bowl is one of five grade I events on a star-studded Belmont card.
Mott chuckled, though, when asked if he considers it a rivalry between his mare and Pure Clan.
“They’re both eligible for the same type of race,” he said. “If you’re looking for a grade 1 or the big races, they’re both going to be there.”
Lewis Lakin's homebred Pure Clan, from the Bob Holthus barn, easily won Arlington's Modesty Handicap (gr. IIIT) over firm going July 11 with Dynaforce third, 2 3/4 lengths behind. A month later, the 4-year-old daughter of Pure Prize finished third in the 1 3/16-mile Beverly D., 1 1/2 lengths behind Dynaforce. Pure Clan, the 3-2 choice that day, closed from last behind slow fractions, finding her best stride late while chasing the leaders five wide.
Pure Clan also has proven adept over soft turf. In her only prior start at Belmont, she missed winning the Garden City (gr. IT) last year by a half-length on a course labeled "yielding."
“In the Garden City, she kind of got blocked and got beat a half-length,” Holthus said. “I like the track, and she likes the sweeping turns.”
Winner of the American Oaks (gr. IT) last year, Pure Clan has captured seven of 14 starts while earning $1,267,498. She gets two pounds in her favor from Dynaforce for the rubber match and breaks from post 2 under regular pilot Julien Leparoux.
Darley Stable's multiple graded stakes winner Criticism looks to rebound from a seventh-place finish in Saratoga's Diana Stakes (gr. IT) over a "good" course in her last start Aug. 1. The 5-year-old Great Britain-bred mare pressed a solid pace in the Diane before giving way in the stretch. She won both the La Prevoyante (gr. IIT) at Calder Race Course and Belmont's Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) over Belmont's inner course this spring, going gate to wire each time. Trainer Tom Albertrani has tabbed Javier Castellano once again to ride Criticism.
Criticism figures to ensure a strong pace with Dynaforce, who likes to stalk up close. Criticism has collected four graded stakes victories races the past two years, only one of which she won without being on the lead.
“She’s doing great, and I can’t wait for the race,” Albertrani said.
Carribean Sunset comes off a pair of narrow misses for trainer Christophe Clement and owners Jon and Sarah Kelly. The 4-year-old Irish-bred Danehill Dancer filly lost the Diana by a head when second to repeat winner Forever Together. She shipped west five weeks later to run third, defeated by one length, as the 11-10 favorite in Del Mar's Palomar Handicap (gr. II) most recently.
Clement also entered Beauty O' Gwaun who makes her American debut for owner Neil Jones after winning two of four starts in her native Ireland, including a group III triumph in her second start May 13. The Rainbow Quest lass is coming off a third-place showing in a group III race at the Curragh Aug. 3 for former trainer John Oxx. Ramon Dominguez has been named to ride both Carribean Sunset and Beauty O' Gwaun. The coupled entry is the 5-2 morning line favorite.
Also over from the United Kingdom for her U.S. debut is the Irish-bred Moneycantbuymelove, a two-time stakes winner for trainer Michael Bell who is coming off a third-place finish in the Blue Square Nassau Stakes (Eng-I) at Goodwood Aug. 1. Regular jockey Jamie Spencer makes the trip from England.
Queen of Hearts won a stakes at Saratoga for trainer James Jerkens and followed that up with a third-place effort in the Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) Sept. 7. Leamington, a recent import from England trained by H. Graham Motion for Hickory Tree Stables, has two wins and two seconds in four U.S. starts this year, including a victory in Saratoga's Voodoo Dancer Sept. 4.
$600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:35 p.m.), Fillies & mares 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Leamington (KY), E S Prado, 119, H G Motion
2. Pure Clan (KY), J R Leparoux, 121, R E Holthus
3. Dynaforce (KY), K J Desormeaux, 123, W I Mott
4. Criticism (GB), J Castellano, 121, T Albertrani
5. a-Carribean Sunset (IRE), R A Dominguez, 119, C Clement
6. a-Beauty O' Gwaun (IRE), R A Dominguez, 115, C Clement
7. Queen of Hearts (KY), J L Espinoza, 119, J A Jerkens
8. Moneycantbuymelove (IRE), J P Spencer, 115, M L Bell
Blinkers On: Beauty O' Gwaun (IRE)