Ariege, last year’s Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) winner, makes her 2009 graded stakes debut when facing seven rivals in the $150,000 Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) June 7 on the Monmouth Park turf.
Among those Ariege will face is Social Queen, winner of the 2008 Eatontown and victor of last month’s Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico. A 1 1/16-mile trek for fillies and mares 3 and up, the Eatontown will go to post at 4:50 p.m. EDT.
Owned by Stronach Stables and trained by Bobby Frankel, Ariege won a pair of graded stakes as a 3-year-old in 2008, shortly after shipping in from Europe. In addition to the Santa Anita Oaks, in which she won by a half-length in come-from-behind fashion, she took the Stonerside Beaumont (gr. II) at Keeneland. Both of those scores came on artificial surfaces.
A 4-year-old daughter of Doneraile Court—Kostroma, by Caerleon, Ariege’s strongest effort on the grass came when finishing third, beaten only three parts of a length, in the grade I Garden City on the yielding going at Belmont last September. The dark bay filly opened this season with a wire-to-wire, two-turn triumph in allowance company on Keeneland’s lawn April 17. Julien Leparoux, aboard for that most recent win, will keep the mount.
Ariege, who was purchased for $1.8 million last year, was bred in Kentucky by Calumet. She has produced a 5-1-2 record from 11 starts with earnings of $528,485.
Richard Santulli’s Social Queen won the 2008 Eatontown by a neck over Chestoria, who also returns for the race. The daughter of Dynaformer has done her best running over the Monmouth turf course, winning four of six starts there, including a pair of minor stakes. Javier Castellano will ride for Alan Goldberg.
E El R Stable’s Chestoria has not started at Monmouth since her tough defeat in the Eatontown, but has bagged a pair of minor turf stakes for her trainer, William Badgett Jr. The 5-year-old Chester House mare has garnered a solid 5-2-1 record from 15 starts in her career. Rajiv Maragh will be in the irons.
Another starter who just missed to Social Queen is Jedburgh Stud’s All Is Vanity. The French-bred daughter of Gold Away battled Social Queen down the stretch in the May 16 Gallorette, but came up a head short under Alan Garcia. Christophe Clement trains the 5-year-old mare.