Only four other runners will go up against the Shug McGaughey-trained Criminologist in her second start of the season, but those four have solid credentials and equal chances at taking the $100,000 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIT) at Aqueduct April 26.
After finishing the 2007 season with four consecutive wins—including two in grade III events—Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable’s Criminologist seeks her first score of 2008 in the Beaugay. The Maria’s Mon homebred, out of theSeeking the Goldmare Search Party, got off to a fine start this year with a half-length loss to Sharp Susan after closing late in a one-mile turf allowance at Keeneland April 6. The event was her first start since winning the Nov. 17 Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs for trainer Shug McGaughey. From 16 starts, the 5-year-old mare has a 7-4-1 record.
The most likely filly to spoil Criminologist’s bid for victory will also enter the Beaugay off a runner-up effort, this one in the Dec. 29 Frances A. Genter Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Calder Race Course. Sweet Ransom hasn’t won a race since June 2007, but she’s been knocking on the door ever since for trainer Bill Mott, with four misses and a third from six starts. Like Criminologist, she came from far behind in her last start to just miss the wire. The 4-year-old daughter of Red Ransom, out of the Explodent mare Stephie Brown Eyes, makes her seasonal debut with a 2-5-1 record from 11 starts. Sweet Ransom was bred in Kentucky by Warner Stable and Saint Ballado Syndicate.
Trying the American turf for the second time is Jedburgh Stud’s homebred All Is Vanity, a French-bred daughter of Gold Away out of the Inchinor mare Castilly. After winning a group II event in France, the 4-year-old filly made her first start in the U.S. at Gulfstream March 14, when she wired the field in a one-mile turf allowance to win by a half-length for trainer Christophe Clement. The score was her seventh overall.
Edmund A. Gann and R.C. Thompson’s Just Little also owns a French stakes victory, this one a group III effort. She makes her third start in the U.S., coming off a fourth-place finish by 1 ½ lengths behind All Is Vanity in that Gulfstream allowance. Trainer Todd Pletcher saddles the 4-year-old daughter of Grand Slam, bred in France by M. Jean-Pierre Dubois out of the Highest Honor mare Just Wood. The filly's four career wins in France came consecutively between 2006 and ’07.
Thomas Farone Jr.’s Factual Contender is the oldest horse in the field, a 7-year-old daughter of Thunder Puddles bred in Kentucky by Flying Zee Stables out of the Triocala mare Factuallychallenge. With a 10-10-3 record from 36 starts under her belt, the Barclay Tagg trainee comes into the race off a 3 ¼-length score in the Nov. 11 Perfect Arc Stakes, part of the New York Stallion series.
$100,000 Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT, race 9, approximate post 4:53 p.m. EDT), 1 1/16 miles for older fillies and mares, turf
PP, Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Sweet Ransom, 115, Edgar Prado
2. All Is Vanity, 117, Alan Garcia
3. Factual Contender, 115, Eibar Coa
4. Just Little, 116, Garrett Gomez
5. Criminologist, 119, John Velazquez