Trainer Allen Jerkens is hoping that Shine Again can successfully defend her title in Saturday's $150,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park and exit the track with one more graded stakes win to her impressive career record.
Shine Again began the year with two victories and has run second in her last four starts. The 6-year-old mare's toughest loss was when she came up a nose short of her third consecutive grade I Ballerina victory at Saratoga.
"I hope the old girl wins," Jerkens said. "She might not run anymore after this. She's going to be bred next year."
The trainer isn't sure what to make of Shine Again's run of seconds. She certainly has not disgraced herself, but was the favorite all four times.
"Either she's been unlucky or she's lost a step," Jerkens said. "I hope it's that she's been unlucky."
With Jean-Luc Samyn recovering from an injury and Jose Santos in California for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Richard Migliore will get the mount.
Challenging Shine Again will be the top two finishers from Pimlico's Safely Kept Handicap (gr. III). In her first race for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Joseph Allen's Randaroo rallied to win the Safely Kept by less than a length at 9-1. Follow Me Home, owned by Robert Levine and trained by his son, Bruce, set the pace and held the lead in the stretch until she was run down by Randaroo.
The field for Saturday's $150,000 First Flight Handicap (gr. II) includes:
1 -- Shine Again (Migliore, 121)
2 -- Mousse Glacee (Norberto Arroyo Jr., 111)
3 -- Randaroo (Herberto Castillo Jr., 115)
4 -- Zawzooth -- (Jorge Chavez, 1113)
5 -- Drexel Monorail (Ramon Dominguez, 113)
6 -- Follow Me Home (Julian Pimentel, 112)
7 -- Message Red (Javier Castellano, 114)
8 -- Wish It Were (Shaun Bridgmohan, 113)