by Karen M. Johnson
Royal Highness is headed to the breeding shed in Europe, but she has some business to attend to first: The Nov. 3 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Aqueduct.
Trained by Christophe Clement, Royal Highness will be a heavy favorite in her racing adieu. She faces six foes in the Long Island, the final graded turf race for fillies and mares in New York this year. Royal Highness, second in last year’s Long Island for trainer Pascal Bary, carries high weight of 122 pounds in the 1 ½-mile race.
Royal Highness, a German-bred filly owed by Monceaux Stable, won the Beverly D Stakes (gr. IT) on a good course at Arlington Park during the summer for her second graded victory this year. She ran back in the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) and finished sixth, beaten less than four lengths by Lahudood, who came back to win the Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27.
The day of the Flower Bowl, Belmont’s turf course was parched and therefore very firm. Clement, who has won the Long Island twice before, said Royal Highness, a 5-year-old daughter of German sire Monsun, exited the Flower Bowl very body sore.
“It wasn’t just firm, it was hard,” Clement said Nov. 1. “She was pretty sore because of that after the race, but she is fine now. She’s a very good filly.”
An indication that Royal Highness has recovered from her race in the Flower Bowl is a bullet five-furlong move on soft turf at Belmont Oct. 21. It was the fastest of 11 works at the distance that day.
Clement anticipates Royal Highness will be close to the pace. With Javier Castellano aboard, she drew post two. Clement has also entered Green Girl, who is not coupled in the wagering with her stablemate.
“She has been doing very well and looks very well,” Clement said. “I don’t like that she is at level weight (115 pounds) with two or three other fillies. It might be asking too much of her.”
Green Girl makes her first start for Clement. She finished sixth against males in the Sept. 30 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (gr. IT) for trainer John Hammond. Green Girl has not won a race since July 2006, when she defeated a field of allowance horses at Chantilly.
Clement said Green Girl was reluctant to load in the starting gate in the Turf Classic and has been schooled at least “eight or nine” times at the gate since then and seems to be over the problem. Alan Garcia, aboard Lahudood in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, has the mount from post two.
Trainer Edward Dunlop, whose stable is based in Newmarket, England, will run Dalvina in the Long Island. Dalvina, the only 3-year-old in the Long Island field, has kept some good company this year in England, running in two group I races.
She was not a presence in either the English Oaks (Eng-I) or Darley Yorkshire Oaks (Eng-I), but finished third in a pair of group II races, the Ribblesdale Stakes and Blanford Stakes.
Another European invader, Rising Cross, has been a globetrotter this year for trainer John Best. The filly, however, has failed to win a race in seven starts while racing in England, France, and Germany.
Miracle Moment stretches out in distance for trainer Barclay Tagg. The Chester House filly seeks her first stakes win. Mary Louhana, a maiden, makes her first start in nearly nine weeks. In her American debut, Mary Louhana finished sixth in the Sept. 3. Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga. My Rachel, eligible for a third-level allowance race, completes the field.