This year has been all fun and games for Laughing, who will look to extend her perfect 2013 to four wins in as many starts when she faces seven foes in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park for fillies and mares Sept. 28. She will carry high weight of 123 pounds.
After an up-and-down 2012 campaign,the 5-year-old Dansili mare held on tenaciously to win the Eatontown Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Monmouth Park in June, the Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga Race Course in July, and the Ballston Spa (gr. IIT) at the same venue in August.
In doing so, she has defeated top runners such as Stephanie's Kitten, Dayatthespa, Ruthenia, Pianist, and Dream Peace. The Irish-bred Laughing is owned by Richard Santulli and trained by Alan Goldberg, and has won half of her 14 career starts. A victory in the Flower Bowl would make her a millionaire. Laughing has only tried the Flower Bowl distance of 10 furlongs once, and that was over yielding turf at Woodbine two years ago, when she finished seventh in the E.P. Taylor (Can-IT). Her victories in the Diana and last year’s Matchmaker Stakes (gr. IIIT) came at nine furlongs.
Laughing will be coupled in the wagering with Santulli’s 4-year-old filly Tannery, also trained by Goldberg. Tannery won the Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. IIT) at Belmont in May and most recently finished a hard-charging fourth against males in the Sword Dancer (gr. IT) after being out wide the entire way in the 12-furlong event. Like her stablemate, Tannery is an Irish-bred, and was sired by Dylan Thomas.
One of Laughing’s victims in the Ballston Spa, Somali Lemonade, is back for another crack at her in the Flower Bowl. The 4-year-old daughter of Lemon Drop Kid , owned by Caroline Forgason, has back class but has also won just once in the past two seasons. That came two races back in the Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Parx Racing. Her previous stakes tally came in the 2011 JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland.
Andrew Stone’s Qushchi has not been worse than third in her five stateside starts since coming over from her native Great Britain last spring. She most recently won the Waya at Saratoga at 12 furlongs and is a dangerous off-the-pace type who always runs her race.
Kissable has finished behind Qushchi in both the Waya and Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) this season, and is looking for her first victory since last year’s Waya, which she won by four lengths. Kissable also hails from Ireland.
Valiant Girl stepped up to win a minor stakes at Monmouth last out and will have to run the race of her life to make an impact here. She has two wins from six starts since coming over from Great Britain, most of her races coming in optional claiming and first-level allowance affairs.
White Rose has not been off the board in seven starts since her first race, but the 3-year-old is facing elders and going up the class ladder after finishing second in the Glens Falls a month ago. Rounding out the field is Mystical Star, who is coming off a stakes victory at Kentucky Downs after a third in the Waya. The 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare has some early lick and would figure to be closest to the speedy Laughing in the race’s early stages.
$600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT, Race 8, 4:45 p.m. ET), 1 1/4 Miles (Inner Turf)
Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Weight
1. Tannery (IRE), Alan Goldberg, Javier Castellano, 121
2. Mystical Star (KY), Christophe Clement, Junior Alvarado, 119
3. Somali Lemonade (KY), Michael Matz, Luis Saez,119
4. Valiant Star (GB), Graham Motion, Irad Ortiz Jr., 119
5. Kissable (IRE), Roger Attfield, Mike Smith, 119
6. Qushchi (GB), Graham Motion, Edgar Prado, 119
7. Laughing (IRE), Alan Goldberg, Jose Lezcano, 123
8. White Rose (KY), Bill Mott, John Velazquez, 115