The $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (gr. IT), to be contested over 10 furlongs Oct. 7 at Belmont Park, looks to be a clash between the consistent Honey Ryder and the ever-improving Angara.
Glencrest Farm's Honey Ryder, trained by Todd Pletcher, has won three of five starts in 2006. A two-time winner of Gulfstream Park's Orchid Handicap (gr. IIT), her resume also shows wins in the E.P. Taylor at Woodbine, Delaware Park's Robert G. Dick Memorial Breeders' Cup, Saratoga's Glens Fall Handicap (gr. IIIT), and the grade II Sheepshead Bay Handicap.
The 5-year-old Lasting Approval mare exits a fourth-place finish in the Beverly D (gr. IT) where she made a late three-wide rally and was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths by Gorella.
"We just hope we can get a good pace Saturday so she can make that one run," Pletcher said in a relase from NYRA. "She's won without much pace before, but this is a tougher race. And, in a race like the Beverly D., she might have been too close."
Pletcher will also send out Allen E. Paulson Living Trust's Jade Queen who broke out of the allowance ranks last out to run third Magnificent Song and Take the Ribbon in the grade I Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap Sept. 9.
The Bill Mott-trained Angara, who races for the Sangster Family Stable, became a grade I winner when she took Saratoga's Diana Handicap by a head over Sweet Talker. Angara had previously been trained by Patrick Biancone and won the Beverly D under his care in 2005.
"She was a very good horse when she came to us," Mott said of the Alzao mare in a release from NYRA. "She got the winter off, and I think it took a few races for her to get going again."
Her return began with an inauspicious sixth-place finish in Aqueduct's Beaugay Handicap (gr. IIIT). She came back May 27 and ran third behind Honey Ryder and Noble Stella in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths.
Most recently Angara won the Diana Handicap by a head over Sweet Talker over a yielding turf course.
"She's a bulldog," Mott said. "She has run some good races for us earlier, but in the Diana, she really ran an excellent race. She had proven herself, and while I think she may prefer the ground to have a little cut in it, she has raced well over every kind of ground."
The field for Saturday's $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (gr. IT) includes:
1-- Argentina (Edgar Prado, 119)
2-- Jade Queen (Mike Luzzi, 115)
3-- Latice (Cornelio Velasquez, 119)
4-- Angara (Fernadno Jara, 123)
5-- Honey Ryder (John Velazquez, 121)
6-- Barancella (Javier Castellano, 119)
7-- Film Maker (Ramon Dominguez, 119)