If consistency, courage, and giving 100% every time is what you look for in a Thoroughbred, you won't find a more ideal filly than Patricia Generazio's New York-bred Discreet Marq. She has run up an impressive eight-race streak of finishing first or second, while losing a couple of heartbreakers in her last two starts.
The 4-year-old homebred daughter of Discreet Cat—To Marquet, by Marquetry, will attempt to add to her streak when she takes on a classy, hard-knocking field of fillies and mares June 7 in the $750,000 Longines Just a Game Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
Discreet Marq has compiled her impressive record on both coasts, winning the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) in California and the Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIT), Pebbles Stakes, and an overnight state-bred stakes at Belmont Park. She also has been second in the Matriarch Stakes (gr. IT) at Betfair Hollywood Park, beaten a nose; second in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IT) at Keeneland, beaten a half-length; second in the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont, beaten 1 1/2 lengths; and second in the Sweetest Chant Stakes at Gulfstream Park, beaten a neck.
"She is an amazing filly," said trainer Christophe Clement. "She is so athletic, it's unbelievable. She's a very good filly, I've been saying that since last year. Even when she got beat in the Matriarch and Jenny Wiley, she ran great."
In all, Discreet Marq has won six of 14 lifetime starts, with four seconds and two thirds, for earnings of $815,900.
Despite an eighth-place finish in the Jenny Wiley, 3 1/4 lengths behind winner Hard Not to Like, Stephanie's Kitten is a proven grade I filly who won the 2013 Just a Game over a yielding surface, as well as the Distaff Turf Mile (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs and the 2012 Lake Placid Stakes (gr. IIT) at Saratoga. She finished third, beaten a half-length, in last year's Diana Stakes (gr. IT) at the Spa.
Look for the Chad Brown-trained filly, owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, to be rallying strongly down the stretch with John Velazquez aboard.
Godolphin Racing's Better Lucky, a 5-year-old Ghostzapper mare, was second behind Judy the Beauty over Keeneland's Polytrack in her lone start in 2014. Last year she was just a half-length behind Stephanie's Kitten in the Just a Game and later won the First Lady Stakes (gr. IT) at Keeneland. In 2012 she won the Matriarch at Hollywood Park. She's 1-1-1 in three starts on the local turf.
Other fillies in top form right now are Coffee Clique and Dame Marie, the one-two finishers of the Distaff Turf Mile in their last start for trainers Brian Lynch and Eddie Kenneally, respectively; the Michael Matz-trained Somali Lemonade, winner of her last two, including the Gallorette Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Pimlico; and Stephanie's Kitten's stablemate Waterway Run, coming off a victory in the Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Belmont for Martin Schwartz.
Coffee Clique has not been worse than fourth in her last eight starts, winning last year's Selene Stakes (Can-III) on the Polytrack at Woodbine.
Also in the field are the hard-knocking Strathnaver, trained by Graham Motion, who was a close fourth in the Doubledogdare Stakes (gr. III) at Keeneland in her only start this year; and Repole Stable's Unlimited Budget, a winner of three graded stakes last year at 3 on the main track who will be making her turf debut for trainer Todd Pletcher.
$750,000 Longines Just a Game (gr. IT, race 8, 4 p.m., 4-year-olds and up, fillies and mares, one mile, turf
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML
1. Ready Signal (KY), E. Prado, 113, A. Tarrant, 30-1
2. Strathnayer (GB), M. Smith, 117, H. Motion, 20-1
3. Dame Marie (KY), J. Ortiz, 113, E. Kenneally, 20-1
4. Somali Lemonade (KY), L. Saez, 117, M. Matz, 8-1
5. Coffee Clique (KY), J. Castellano, 121, B. Lynch, 10-1
6. Stephanie's Kitten (KY), J. Velazquez, 123, C. Brown, 4-1
7. Unlimited Budget (FL), R. Napravnik, 121, T. Pletcher, 20-1
8. Waterway Run (PA), J. Lezcano, 115, C. Brown, 6-1
9. Discreet Marq (NY), I. Ortiz Jr., 121, C. Clement, 5-2
10. Better Lucky (KY), J. Rosario, 121, T. Albertrani, 3-1