As a handicapper, there are three fine reasons to like 4-year-old filly India in the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders’ Cup Handicap (gr. II) Aug. 25 at Monmouth Park:
For starters, she is guided by the nation’s top trainer, Todd Pletcher, who is nearing $19 million in earnings this year. Second, aboard the daughter of Hennessy will be Joe Bravo, the perennial leader at Monmouth who has 98 wins this season (22 more than the second-best jockey). Finally, India seems to relish the Monmouth dirt, having gone 2-for-2 in New Jersey, including a resounding 4 1/2-length victory in the Miss Liberty Stakes July 6.
If that's not enough, India has been in the money in four of seven career graded stakes efforts, including a pair of wins this year in the Azeri Breeders’ Cup Stakes (gr. III) and the Fitz Dixon Cotillion Handicap (gr. II). In all, she has placed in nine of 13 lifetime starts for Lyon Stables.
Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, India was given three months of rest before the Miss Liberty, after being eased in the stretch and failing to finish in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park April 7. She drew the rail in the Molly Pitcher.
Although India is to be respected, she is not the only one worthy of consideration in the field of eight going 1 1/16-mile. There is also Hystericalady, the lone grade I winner in the field. Trained and owned in part by Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old filly won the Humana Distaff (gr. I) at Churchill Downs in May, then followed up by placing in a pair of graded handicaps on Hollywood Park’s Cushion Track this summer.
Hystericalady, by Distorted Humor , has won six of 12 career starts and shipped in from California earlier in the week to prep for the dirt track.
“Jerry wanted to get her back on the dirt,” said assistant trainer Joe Hernandez. “She shipped great, and we’re looking forward to seeing her run. And a little more rain wouldn’t hurt, either.” Eddie Castro will ride.
Kettleoneup has placed in four consecutive graded stakes, including her most recent effort, a third-place finish in the Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill June 16. In that one, the daughter of Victory Gallop came seven-wide and from well off the pace to miss by 1 3/4-lengths. Shipping from Churchill, she has not finished out of the money in nine starts.
“She’s doing really well,” said assistant trainer D.W. Fries. “She’s been training great, and she shipped well.”
Last year’s Molly Pitcher winner, Promenade Girl, is also in the field, although the 5-year-old mare has not won since that effort. Trained by Larry Murray, Promenade Girl might have an advantage if it is an off track, as she has won three lifetime races in the mud.
Peak Maria’s Way, who has won twice at Delaware Park this summer, Prop Me Up, a winner of six of 28 lifetime starts – none of them graded stakes – Mauralakana (FR) and Lexi Star round out the field.
Post time is 4:54 p.m. EDT.
$300,000 Molly Pitcher Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 4:54 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. India (KY), 121, Joe Bravo
2. Hystericalady (KY), 119, Eddie Castro
3. Mauralakana (FR), 121, Rajiv Maragh
4. Lexi Star (MD), 117, Jeremy Rose
5. Peak Maria's Way (KY), 119, Joseph Rocco
6. Promenade Girl (MD), 117, Stewart Elliott
7. Kettleoneup (KY), 121, Jose Lezcano
8. Prop Me Up (FL), 119, Charles C. Lopez