Win McCool Tries Tougher in Gallant Bloom

(from Belmont Park report)
After breaking through with a strong victory in the Floral Park Handicap (gr. III), the Robert Barbara-trained Win McCool returns to Belmont Park Sunday in the $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II) for fillies and mares.

The Gallant Bloom, run at 6 ½ furlongs, drew a field of six fillies and mares. Nothing But Fun, second to the freakishly good Dubai Escapade in Saratoga's Ballerina (gr. I), is the horse to beat.

By Giant's Causeway , Win McCool is related to grade I winner Harmony Lodge and grade II winner Graeme Hall. In fact, a half brother to Win McCool – by Unbridled's Song – sold for $2.8 million at the recently concluded Keeneland yearling sale.

"As expensive as she is as a broodmare with her pedigree, she needed to get a graded win under her belt," said Barbara of Win McCool. "The Floral Park was very special because she just did everything right. The paddock, the gate, she got the right ride."

Barbara says Win McCool has trained forwardly since the Floral Park. Win McCool has a record of 2-1-1 from five starts at Belmont. She'll be winging it on the lead from the opening bell, Barbara said.

"I can't wait to run her. Six and a half furlongs is no problem. She loves it. She's a racehorse. Finally, we've got her head where it belongs."

Garrett Gomez rode Win McCool in the Floral Park, but he is at Keeneland on Sunday, so John Velazquez has picked up the mount.

A year ago, Nothing But Fun was undefeated in four starts and was being pointed to the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). Twelve months later, her connections feel it is in her best interest to return to one-turn racing.

"After her last race, it looks like the right thing to do," trainer Mike Hushion said.

Nothing But Fun closed well to finish second in the Ballerina against the nation's leading female sprinter Aug. 27. Nothing But Fun had little chance to win the Ballerina the way the race unfolded, as the other speed horses rated off Dubai Escapade to avoid an energy-draining duel.

Nothing But Fun trains and runs well at Belmont Park, where she is three-for-five with a second-place finish in the Ogden Phipps (gr. I) in June.

With a pair of grade I placings and a solid career record of five wins from nine starts, Nothing But Fun might simply be the best horse in the Gallant Bloom lineup. And she looks even better when you combine her class with the white-hot Hushion (seven-for-15 this meet for 46%).

"We had a good last week at Saratoga, but I didn't expect this meet to go like this," said Hushion. "It all depends how you hit it with the condition book. The game's always been a roller coaster ride."

Hushion also entered grade II winner Great Intentions in the Gallant Bloom. By Cat Thief, Great Intention won the First Flight at Belmont last October. After a series of sub-par races over the spring and summer, Great Intentions appears to have gotten back on track with a solid second-place finish to Win McCool in the Floral Park.

Great Intentions and Nothing But Fun are coupled in the wagering. Richard Migliore rides Nothing But Fun, while Javier Castellano teams up with Great Intentions.

$150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap (gr. II, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), Fillies & Mares & & Up, 6 1/2 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Nothing But Fun (KY), 117, Richard Migliore
2. Annika Lass (FL), 114, Cornelio Velasquez
3. Great Intentions (KY), 115, Javier Castellano
4. Swap Fliparoo (FL), 115, Eibar Coa
5. Win McCool (KY), 115, John Velazquez
6. Getcozywithkaylee (FL), 114, Edgar Prado