It's never especially exciting when all other entries in a race carry 117 pounds and your filly is given 121, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin considers extra weight a fair assignment considering the last performance of his Alwejeeha, and he expects good things from the Shadwell homebred in the $150,000 Sands Point Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont May 31.
“The extra weight is part of the game, so you expect that,” said McLaughlin. “Of course, I don’t like it. I like them to be giving me weight, but with her being the only graded stakes winner in the field, that’s the way it goes.”
If she runs back to the form of her last performance, 3-year-old Alwejeeha should have the 1 1/8-mile Sands Point in the bag. Her trip over Keeneland’s turf course in the April 16 Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) was less than ideal – she was forced to swing four wide off the turn – but she still made a lightening-like move from sixth to nab the victory by a head with a dash down the center of the one-mile course. The fact that jockey John Velazquez sticks with the Dixieland Bandfilly is also a positive sign.
“We think she’ll run equally well if not better going farther,” McLaughlin said. “That’s just her running style; she came from off the pace in her last race and most of the time comes running. When she finished second in the Tropical Park Oaks (to Bsharpsonata by 1 ½ lengths), she was flying; she came absolutely flying and was wide. She’s a real nice filly and we’re looking forward to running her.”
Out of the Seattle Slew mare Ridaa, Alwejeeha has never finished worse than second since breaking her maiden over the Aqueduct turf last November. She tackles the 1 1/8-mile distance for the first time in this race, the one-mile Appalachian being her most recent effort.
Third by just a head in the Appalachian was Flying Zee Stable’s homebred I Lost My Choo, a daughter of Western Expression. She raced greenly in that start, sticking close to the pace but drifting while fighting the bit early. Out of the Tom Rolfe mare Fairy Queen, the Philip Serpe trainee could prove dangerous in the Sands Point should jockey Edgar Prado manage her rank behavior. Prior to the Appalachian, she had a three-race winning streak that included back-to-back allowance scores going 1 1/16-miles at Gulfstream Park off a maiden one-mile victory there at the beginning of the year.
Another contender looking for her first graded win is Pam and Martin Wygod’s homebred Life Is Sweet, a daughter of Storm Cat out of the Kris S. mare Sweet Life. In her last race, the April 26 Calder Oaks, she was bumped at the start from the horse to her inside and still recovered from that bump to rally for a runner-up effort behind Ginger Brew. The Bill Mott trainee scored her last win in a Feb. 22 allowance event, her first since breaking her maiden by nine lengths on the Belmont turf last October. Prior to the Calder Oaks, she ran fourth in Keeneland’s April 5 Ashland Stakes (gr. I) over Polytrack, finishing behind Little Belle, Bsharpsonata, and Proud Spell.
One worth watching is Parting Glass Stable’s Ambidaxtrous, a back-to-back allowance/maiden winner for trainer Tom Bush going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont and Aqueduct April 30 and April 10, respectively. She is a daughter of Deputy Commander, bred in New York by Waterville Lake Stables Limited out of the Gulch mare Axe Creek.
$150,000 Sands Point Stakes (gr. III, race 9, approximate post 5:15 p.m.), 1 1/8 miles for 3-year-old fillies*, inner turf
*all runners but Alwejeeha carry 117 pounds
PP, Horse, Jockey
1. Queen of Protocol, Cornelio Velasquez
2. Life Is Sweet, Kent Desormeaux
3. Lookalike, Eibar Coa
4. Alwajeeha, 121, John Velazquez
5. Ambidaxtrous, Rajiv Maragh
6. Raw Silk, Alan Garcia
7. I Lost My Choo, Edgar Prado
MTO. Forest Trail, Alan Garcia