Darley Stable’s homebred Criticism has been on quite a roll, winning four of her last five – all in graded stakes. Backseat Rhythm and Dynaforce, both grade I winners a year ago, are both coming off unplaced efforts last out. Will the hot horse continue her winning ways, will the proven grade I winners return to form, or will one of the other capable starters break through? Those are the questions that must be answered in the $250,000 New York Handicap (gr. IIT) June 20 at Belmont Park.
A field of eight fillies and mares, plus a pair of also-eligibles, were entered for the 1 1/4-mile turf event, the feature of Belmont’s 10-race card. Post time is set for 5:17 p.m. EDT.
A 5-year-old daughter of Machiavellian—Innuendo, by Caerleon, Criticism has won three of four starts this season, including wire-to-wire scores in the La Prevoyante (gr. IIT) April 25 at Calder and the Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) May 23 at Belmont, both under Javier Castellano. Bred in England, she has produced a 4-1-1 in six starts since coming to the states, where she is conditioned by Tom Albertrani.
Criticism began her racing career in France by winning four of 12 starts for trainer Henri-Alex Pantall. Overall, she has earned more than $550,000. Castellano will have the mount once again on the 123-pound high weight. They drew post 2.
“She doesn’t have to be on the lead, but if it happens that way, she’s happy to be there,” said Albertrani. “She’s been on a nice schedule. She’s been running about once a month, so the timing was right and she’s training well. She had a nice breeze on Sunday (five furlongs, 1:02.52) and she’s doing as good as she was before.”
Paul Pompa Jr.’s Backseat Rhythm won the Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs in her second start this season, but has finished fifth in her last two tries, the April 11 Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT) at Keeneland and the Sheepshead Bay. In the latter, the 4-year-old El Corredor filly had to be steadied near the three-eighths pole, which ended her chances.
Winner of the Lake Placid (gr. IIT) and Garden City (gr. IT) stakes last year, Backseat Rhythm has earned more than $830,000 from 17 starts. Cornelio Velasquez will ride for Kiaran McLaughlin.
"She’s a quality filly and she’s training very well, but she needs pace to run at,” McLaughlin said.
McLaughlin will also saddle Team Valor and partners’ Colina Verde, a Brazilian-bred still looking for her first win in American stakes company. The 6-year-old mare is a multiple group I winner in Brazil. McLaughlin’s third potential starter, Winning Point, is entered for main track only. There is a chance of thunderstorms in New York on race day.
Dr. John Chandler’s Dynaforce was a beaten odds-on favorite in the May 16 Gallorette Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico, her 6-year-old debut. The Dynaformer mare has now been off the board twice since winning the Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) last fall over a yielding course at Belmont. She finished eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT) in October at Santa Anita. John Velazquez will ride for Bill Mott.
Also in with a chance is Mott’s other starter, Swettenham Stud’s Dress Rehearsal. The lightly-raced 4-year-old Galileo filly enters off a third-place finish in the April 23 Bewitch (gr. IIT) at Keeneland. She won the Orchid (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park prior to that.
$250,000 New York Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 9, 5:17 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/4 Miles (Turf) PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Belle Allure (IRE), R A Dominguez, 116, C Clement
2. Criticism (GB), J Castellano, 123, T Albertrani
3. Colina Verde (BRZ), A Garcia, 118, K P McLaughlin
4. Dress Rehearsal (IRE), R Maragh, 120, W I Mott
5. Backseat Rhythm (KY), C H Velasquez, 120, K P McLaughlin
6. Dynaforce (KY), J R Velazquez, 118, W I Mott
7. Icon Project (KY), J Valdivia Jr., 116, M D Wolfson
8. I Lost My Choo (NY), J Lezcano, 120, P M Serpe Main Track Only
9. Borrowing Base (NY), 116, Quick
10. Winning Point (KY), 116, McLaughlin