Del Mar Oaks winner Discreet Marq runs in the Pebbles Stakes on Columbus Day.

Del Mar Oaks winner Discreet Marq runs in the Pebbles Stakes on Columbus Day.

Benoit Photo

Discreet Marq Tops Talented Group in Pebbles

Del Mar Oaks winner facing French import Dauphine Russe, Tapicat on Columbus Day.

Discreet Marq, winner of the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT) this summer and most recently second in the Garden City Stakes (gr. IT), heads a talented group of 3-year-old fillies in the $200,000 Pebbles Stakes on the turf Oct. 14 at Belmont Park.

Though ungraded, the Pebbles boasts a strong lineup of talented sophomores. The one-mile event anchors a 10-race Columbus Day program as the eighth race on the card with a scheduled post time of 4:34 p.m. ET.

Bred in New York by owner Patricia Generazio, Discreet Marq has put together a sterling 3-year-old campaign facing open company under the guidance of trainer Christophe Clement. The gray filly has won three of six starts this year including a front-running victory in the Sands Point (gr. IIT) in May at Belmont. Clement later shipped the daughter of Discreet Cat to Southern California for the Aug. 17 Del Mar Oaks at 1 1/8 miles, where she posted an impressive victory by three-quarters of a length.

Discreet Marq had a three-race win streak snapped in the Sept. 14 Garden City at Belmont, at nine furlongs on the inner turf, when she set a soft pace but was overhauled past the eighth pole by the French-bred filly Alterite. She finished second by 1 1/2 lengths.

Although she would have been among the favorites for the Queen Elizabeth II (gr. IT) at Keeneland Oct. 12, Clement opted to keep her at home for the Pebbles.

"She came out of the Garden City in very good order but I did not want to ship her again," said Clement. "She just had two tough races, and I thought to ship her would be a touch abusive for the filly." 

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Discreet Marq, the 2-1 morning-line favorite who will be making her first start at a mile since January, when she was second by a neck after setting the pace in the listed Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream Park.

"I've always thought she was more of a miler than a mile-and-an-eighth horse, because she has so much natural speed," said Clement of Discreet Marq, who drew outside post position 8. "If there is a problem with the weather, we'll go back in the Ticonderoga on (Empire) Showcase Day (Oct. 19)."

Martin Schwartz's French import Dauphine Russe makes her United States debut for trainer Chad Brown as the 3-1 second choice on the morning line. Fourth in her most recent start, the Prix de Sandringham (Fr-II) at Chantilly June 2, the Russian Blue filly will race with Lasix for the first time.

Though she won just once in nine starts in her native country, Dauphine Russe has been competing at high levels, including a fifth behind Flotilla in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Fr-I, French One Thousand Guineas) at Longchamp in May. Javier Castellano has the call from post 2.

Florida Oaks (gr. IIIT) winner Tapicat, pegged at 7-2, enters the Pebbles off a freshening following her fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Woodford Reserve Lake Placid (gr. IIT) Aug. 18 at Saratoga Race Course. She was third in the Saratoga's Lake George (gr. IIT) four weeks earlier.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Tapicat launched her career just over a year ago at Belmont, finishing third in her debut and then reeling off three straight wins, including a 2 3/4-length victory in the Florida Oaks. Mott tabs fellow Hall of Fame member Mike Smith to ride Tapicat from post position 6.

Summer of Fun (4-1) exits a fifth-place effort in the Garden City and gets another opportunity for trainer George Weaver and Bona Venture Stables. The daughter of Include  scored her first stakes win in the Auntie Mame at Saratoga over a good turf course a month earlier.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is represented by Stonestreet Stables' Teen Pauline. The Tapit  filly has been on the upswing the past two starts after being switched to turf. She was most recently second in the listed Riskaverse at one mile Aug. 30 over the inner turf at Saratoga.

"We were just a little frustrated with the results we were getting on the dirt," said Pletcher of Teen Pauline, who set a track record of 56.53 seconds for 5 1/2 furlongs in her debut at Saratoga last year. "We felt like her action indicated to us it might be worth giving her a shot on the turf. We breezed her on the turf and we liked what we saw, and there we went."

With Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard, Teen Pauline breaks from the rail at 12-1 on the early line.

Eleven fillies were entered, with Flash Forward, Toasting, and Galloping Giraffe to run only if the race comes off the turf.

$200,000 Pebbles Stakes (Race 8, 4:34 p.m.), 3YO Fillies, 1 Mile (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Teen Pauline (KY), J R Velazquez, 117, T A Pletcher, 12/1
2. Dauphine Russe (FR), J Castellano, 117, C C Brown, 3/1
3. a-Mariel N Kathy (KY), L Saez, 119, D Schettino, 20/1
4. With Sugar On Top (KY), J Lezcano, 119, K P McLaughlin, 20/1
5. Frege (KY), J L Ortiz, 117, M A Hennig, 20/1
6. Tapicat (KY), M E Smith, 123, W I Mott, 7/2
7. Summer of Fun (KY), J Rocco Jr., 121, G Weaver, 4/1
8. Discreet Marq (NY), I Ortiz Jr., 123, C Clement, 2/1
Main Track Only:
9. a-Flash Forward (KY), no rider, 117, D Schettino, 20/1
10. Toasting (FL), L Saez, 117, T Albertrani, 5/2
11. Galloping Giraffe (KY), no rider, 117, T A Pletcher, 7/2
a- MeB Racing Stables entry
Blinkers On: Galloping Giraffe