The 4-year-old daughter of Dansili—Rainbow Lake, by Rainbow Quest is looking for her first U.S. victory, having finished second in the Suwannee River Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park and third in the Hillsborough Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Last year, Riposte scored a 2 1/4-length victory in the group II Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot before finishing fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths, in the Darley Irish Oaks (Ire-I).
Trained by Bill Mott, she drew post 2 in the 10-horse field and will have the services of Joel Rosario, who rode her in the Suwannee River.
In her last start, an allowance race at Keeneland, Riposte rallied from seventh to take the lead leaving the eighth pole as the 8-5 choice, only to be beaten a neck. With all three of her U.S. starts at 1 1/8 miles, she should appreciate the extra distance, having won the Ribblesdale at 1 1/2 miles over the testing course at Ascot.
One opponent who can match Riposte for class is the Shug McGaughey-trained Abaco, owned by the Phipps Stable. The 6-year-old daughter of Giant's Causeway —Cat Cay, by Pleasant Colony is as consistent as they come, racing strictly in stakes company.
Winner of the Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Churchill Downs last year, she was third in the Suwannee River this year, a half-length behind Riposte, before closing from 10th to finish third, beaten a half-length, in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland in her last start.
She will break from post 6 under John Velazquez and should be flying down the stretch as she usually is. Most of her races have been at 1 1/16 miles, so this will be stretching way out in distance, and we’ll see if she can deliver the same powerful closing kick going this far.
Another classy filly and a hard-knocker is Caroline Thomas, who will break from post 9. The 4-year-old daughter of Giant’s Causeway was flying at the end of the Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland in her last start, finishing third, beaten a neck after rallying from 10th.
Two of her other big efforts came when she won the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course via disqualification of Nellie Cashman after losing by a nose at 11-1; and a third, beaten three-quarters of a length in the grade I Queen Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Keeneland.
The Barclay Tagg-trained filly will be ridden by Joe Rocco Jr.
The big question mark in this race is Fitful Skies, the Godolphin-owned filly trained by Kiaran McLaughlin. A group III winner in Germany last September, the 5-year-old Irish-bred daughter of Dubawi came to North America, where she was second, beaten a head in the grade I E.P. Taylor Stakes at Woodbine. But in her 2014 debut, she never threatened in the Jenny Wiley, finishing ninth, but was only beaten 3 1/4 lengths for all the money.
So with a good trip, Fitful Skies could be an intriguing filly in here. Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride for the first time and break from post 3.
English invader Modernstone is a consistent filly whose past seven starts were on an all-weather surface. Mott takes over her training and has Chris DeCarlo aboard.
Rounding out the field are Irish Mission, like Lady Cohiba trained by Chris Clement. and the Brazilian-bred Viva Rafaela, who has a shot in here off three big efforts in graded company in her past three starts including a second in the Orchid Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream.
$200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, approximate post time 5:28 p.m. EDT), 4-Year-Olds and Up, Fillies and Mares, 1 3/8 Miles on grass
1—Flash Forward (KY), No Rider, 123, Dominick Schettino
2—Riposte (GB), J. Rosario, 120, W. Mott
3—Fitful Skies (IRE), I. Ortiz Jr., 118, K. McLaughlin
4—Belle Gallantey (KY), No Rider, 118, R. Rodriguez
5—Lady Cohiba (KY), No Rider, 123, C. Clement
6—Abaco (KY). J. Velazquez, 118, S. McGaughey
7—Irish Mission (ONT), J. Lezcano, 116, C. Clement
8—Modernstone (GB), C. DeCarlo, 116, W. Mott
9—Caroline Thomas (KY), J. Rocco Jr., 120, B. Tagg
10—Viva Rafaela (BRZ), J. Castellano, 116, T. Pletcher