Lael Stables' 3-year-old filly Check the Label, scratched out of the off-the-turf Lake Placid (gr. IIT) last month, returns to Belmont Park where she seeks her first grade I win in the $250,000 Garden City Stakes on Sept. 18.
The daughter of Stormin Fever rides a three-race win streak into the nine-furlong turf race, a distance she won at during her last two victories in the May 31 Sands Point (gr. IIT) at Belmont and the July 17 Virginia Oaks (gr. IIIT) at Colonial Downs. The Graham Motion trainee will face seven rivals in the Garden City. Motion has assigned Ramon Dominguez the mount and she will break from post 1 while carrying top weight of 120 pounds.
With the inside post, Check the Label could be a bit closer to the pace than usual, as she was when winning the Appalachian Stakes (gr. IIIT) April 15 at Keeneland for her first stakes triumph. She has worked three times for Motion since scratching out of the Aug. 22 Lake Placid at Saratoga.
“In hindsight, that was probably a blessing in disguise,” said Motion of the 5-2 morning-line choice. “Now she’s had plenty of time between starts, to point towards the nice races in the fall.
“She changed more than any other horse in the barn this year, and I think it is due to maturity as much as anything. Each time she’s raced she has improved, and her race in Virginia was a continuation of that. Stepping up into a grade I is a big step, as there is a lot more competition, but she’s given me every indication she’s ready.”
With a record of 5-2-1 from 12 starts, Check the Label has earned $341,227. She is out of the Mazel Trick mare Don’t Trick Her.
Sovereign Stable’s Negligee won the Darley Alcibiades (gr. I) last fall on the Keeneland Polytrack before ending her season with a sixth-place finish in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) at Santa Anita. The Northern Afleet filly is still seeking her first win as a 3-year-old, as she ran seventh in the Ashland (gr. I),was runner-up as the odds-on choice in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs, and ran third to Check the Label in the Sands Point.
Negligee will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh for John Terranova.
“She really has been doing wonderfully,” said Terranova. “I am looking forward to having her back.”
Barbara Hunter’s Snow Top Mountain has never been worse than second in seven lifetime starts—all of which have come this season. The daughter of Najran earned her graded stakes win in the July 3 Arlington Oaks (gr. III) when she finished more than six lengths back of the winner but was later awarded the victory when the filly who crossed the wire first was disqualified for a drug positive.
Snow Top Mountain, trained by Tom Proctor, narrowly missed in her last two stakes starts at Saratoga, including the Sept. 2 Riskaverse when falling a half-length short. Edgar Prado has the mount for the first time.
Proctor will also saddle front-running Queen of the Creek, who won the second division of the Riskaverse in wire-to-wire fashion and has scored in three of five starts this year.
“I think the extra distance plays right into Snow Top Mountain’s hands, but the ones who might try to chase Queen of the Creek might have their hands full,” said Proctor.
More early pace could come from Persuading, a Broken Vow filly entering off a two-turn allowance win at Saratoga Aug. 20 for Dale Romans.
No Explaining, from the barn of Roger Attfield, was also scratched out of the Lake Placid, while Triple Cream finished a distant third on the slop, beaten more than 20 lengths. Gitchee Goomie completes the field.
$250,000 Garden City Stakes (Race 9, 5:15 p.m. EST) 3YO Fillies, 9 Furlongs (Turf) PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Check the Label (KY), R A Dominguez, 120, H G Motion
2. Gitchee Goomie (NY), E Coa, 116, R A Violette Jr.
3. Persuading (KY), A O Solis, 116, D L Romans
4. Queen of the Creek (KY), J R Leparoux, 116, T F Proctor
5. No Explaining (IRE), J R Velazquez, 116, R L Attfield
6. Negligee (KY), R Maragh, 118, J P Terranova II
7. Snow Top Mountain (KY), E S Prado, 118, T F Proctor
8. Triple Cream (KY), A Garcia, 116, J J Toner