Trainer Bobby Frankel said he was “between a rock and a hard place” with Stonerside Stable’s homebred County Star, who was scratched when she became agitated and reared backward in the starting gate prior to the Sept. 13 Gazelle Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
“She got a cut on her belly, which required stitches, so we can’t put a saddle on her yet,” Frankel said Sept. 18. “We are just ponying her now. I want to run her in the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies’ Classic, gr. I) because she likes synthetic surfaces, but I don’t know if I will be able to get a race into her before then.”
Country Star, who was the second choice in the betting when she was scratched, would have faced Music Note in the Gazelle had she started. Music Note, who went off at 1-9, won while under wraps and will now head to the $2-million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Santa Anita Oct. 24. Music Note broke through the starting gate in the Gazelle, which likely caused Country Star, who was two stalls down, to act up.
“I really thought I had a chance to win the race,” said Frankel as he watched Country Star return from a ponying session the morning of Sept. 18.
Country Star, a 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker, the Frankel-trained winner of the 2003 Belmont Stakes, out of the grade I-winning Rings a Chime, has two wins on synthetic surfaces. As a maiden, she won last year's Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) over Keeneland’s Polytrack, and then captured the Hollywood Starlet (gr. I) on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track in December.
In her last start, Country Star won an Aug. 18 allowance race on the turf at Saratoga. If she ran in the Ladies’ Classic without a prep, it would be her first start in 67 days. Country Star won off a longer layoff, coming off a sixth-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) May 2 to win the aforementioned allowance race.