Hostess, a two-time graded stakes winner this year, makes what is likely the final start of her racing career in the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Aqueduct turf Nov. 1.
William F. Clifton Jr.'s 5-year-old mare is destined for the Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale Nov. 4, but gets at least one final crack at a distance she prefers. Nine fillies and mares are entered in the 1 1/2-mile test, with the Todd Pletcher trainee J'ray the 122-pound high weight.
Hostess, a strapping daughter of Chester House trained by H. James Bond, disappointed in her last start, never mounting a bid while finishing seventh in the 10-furlong E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-I) at Woodbine Oct. 4.
“For whatever reason, Woodbine is a course she doesn’t seem to handle,” said Bond. “Plus, they went the half in 51 and change, and going a mile and a quarter, that’s not her style. One and a half miles is more to her liking – she can run all day long, even without any pace.”
Hostess won the 1 3/8-mile Glens Falls Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga Race Course prior to the E.P. Taylor and also captured the 12-furlong Orchid Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park March 30. In the Long Island, she'll be reunited with Rajiv Maragh, who was aboard in the Glens Falls, and carries 120 pounds. She has a win and two thirds in three tries at Aqueduct.
“She’s run against some of the nicer fillies all year long and when she gets pace, she’s there,” Bond said.
Like Hostess, Lawrence Goichman’s J’ray made her last start in the E.P. Taylor, closing from eighth to finish fourth behind Folk Opera, Callwood Dancer and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) runner-up Sealy Hill.
“I thought she ran very well at Woodbine,” said Pletcher, who will give rider Joe Bravo a leg up on J’ray. “There was no pace at all to run at, and the Canadian form held up well in the Filly & Mare Turf.”
J'ray, a 5-year-old daughter of Distant View with nine career victories in 24 starts, won the Canadian Stakes (Can-II) at Woodbine prior to the E.P. Taylor and also captured Monmouth Park's Matchmaker (gr. IIIT) this summer. A victory would push the new York-bred chestnut's career earnings over the $1 million mark.
Jane Schosberg’s Sunshine for Life, who went gate to wire in her last two starts including the Athenia Handicap (gr. IIIT) in her stakes debut Oct. 11 at Belmont, figures to provide a realistic pace in her first start at the distance. Trained by Rick Schosberg, the daughter of Giant's Causeway will be ridden again by Channing Hill.
A pair of French-raced imports make their U.S. debuts -- the German-bred Shake the Moon and French-bred Astrologie -- who will run as an entry for Haras du Mezeray. They join Alain Falourd’s La Hernanda, an Irish-bred who arrives in New York following a fourth-place finish in a stakes at Woodbine as the favorite Sept. 21 for trainer Christophe Clement.
Peter Harris’s Irish-bred Marzelline ran fourth in the Yellow Ribbon Invitational (gr. IT) at Oak Tree behind Wait a While after racing in England in 2007.
Darley Stable’s Criticism, the Athenia runner-up after a 10-month layoff, is making only her second American start. The 4-year-old daughter of Machiavellian compiled a 4-4-2 mark from 10 starts in France, many of which were against males. She closed well to finish a half-length behind Sunshine for Life in the Athenia.
“Hopefully, it will have set her up for the Long Island,” said trainer Tom Albertrani, who will also saddle Triple Diamond Stables’ Sentimental Union.
$150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/2 MIles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. La Hernanda (IRE), 114, Eddie Castro
2. Hostess (KY), 120, Rajiv Maragh
3. Sunshine for Life (KY), 116, Channing Hill
4. a-Shake the Moon (GER), 112, Jose Lezcano
5. Criticism (GB), 116, Javier Castellano
6. Sentimental Union (KY), 111, Edgar S. Prado
7. a-Astrologie (FR), 115, Alan Garcia
8. J'ray (NY), 122, Joe Bravo
9. Marzelline (IRE), 116, Tyler Baze
a- Haras du Mezeraya-owned entry