Beverly D. Stakes (gr. IT) winner Royal Highness leads a field of eight that is heavily-weighted with European contenders in the $150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) Nov. 11 at Aqueduct.
The Long Island, a 1 ½-mile event for fillies and mares on the turf, originally was scheduled for Nov. 3, but was postponed due to severe weather in New York. Six of the eight starters were bred in Europe.
A German-bred daughter of Monsun, Royal Highness will likely be making the final start of her career. The 5-year-old mare is headed to the breeding shed for Monceaux Stables and will conclude her racing career after making 16 starts. She has earned a race-high $990,081 thus far.
The first nine starts of her career came in France, which produced one group II victory. Royal Highness experienced better success in the United States for trainer Christophe Clement. Since landing in the states last year, the bay mare has produced a pair of graded stakes wins – the Feb. 25 Very One Handicap (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park and the Beverly D. She also placed in two other graded events this year.
Most recently, Royal Highness, who is out of Nashwan mare Reem Dubai and was bred by Gestut Etzean, was sixth in the Sept. 29 Flower Bowl Handicap (gr. IT). Clement said she didn’t take to the hard turf and came out a little sore. But she seems to be fine now, working four furlongs in :49.82 at Aqueduct Nov. 4.
Jockey Javier Castellano will ride Royal Highness for the first time and break from post six carrying a race-high 122 pounds. She will likely be slightly off the pace.
The main competition could come from French-bred Barancella, a 6-year-old mare by Acatenango. Trained by Bobby Frankel, Barancella has enjoyed a solid campaign, placing in all four of her starts, every one of them in stakes competition.
Barancella was third to Royal Highness in the Very One, but then took second in the April 25 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland. After five months off, she won the Sept. 23 Fairway Flyer Stakes at Belmont Park.
Most recently, Barancella, who is owned by Gary Tanaka, was third, two lengths back, in the Oct. 21 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) at Woodbine. She will leave from post four under John Velazquez.
None of the other European horses – Dalvina, Green Girl, Rising Cross, and Mary Louhana – are nearly as proven. Dalvina did take third last time out in the Irish National Stud Blandford Stakes (Ire-II) Sept. 14.
The two American starters are both Kentucky-breds, Miracle Moment and My Rachel. Neither has won in stakes competition, though Miracle Moment, trained by Barclay Tagg, was third, only a length back, in her last start, the Oct. 14 Chelsey Flower Stakes at Belmont. The 4-year-old filly by Chester House has the advantage of being one of the only early speed horses in the race.
“She likes to get an easy lead, and she’s real game,” said Tagg’s assistant, Robin Smullen. “We’ll see how she does here. We’re taking a shot. But now that she’s placed in a stakes, we’re trying to get her graded stakes placed.”
$150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT, Race 6, 2:48 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/2 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Green Girl, 115, Alan Garcia
2. Rising Cross, 115, Eddie Castro
3. Dalvina, 114, Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Barancella, 119, John R. Velazquez
5. My Rachel, 114, Edgar S. Prado
6. Royal Highness, 122, Javier Castellano
7. Miracle Moment, 114, Eibar Coa
8. Mary Louhana, 113, Rajiv Maragh