Riskaverse, Wonder Again Meet in Flower Bowl

(from Belmont Park report)
New York-based 5-year-old mares Riskaverse and Wonder Again meet for the eighth time in their careers as the favorites in the $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) on the Belmont Park turf Saturday.

Riskaverse has finished ahead of her rival in four of those races.

"They seem like they've got a pretty good rivalry going against each other," said Jimmy Toner, who trains Wonder Again. "We've beaten her a couple times and she's beaten us a couple times. They're still going at each other pretty good."

Owned and bred by the mother-son team of Joan and John Phillips, Wonder Again has been overwhelming in her last two starts, winning the New York Handicap (gr. IIT) by 3 ½ lengths, then romping in the Diana (gr. IT), defeating Riskaverse by 5 ¾ lengths. Edgar Prado will ride Wonder Again.

At 3, Wonder Again won four straight before losing to Riskaverse in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. After that promising start, the Silver Hawk mare suffered through a poor 2004 season, winning once in six starts.

Wonder Again relishes a turf course with some give in it and she should get that in Saturday's 1 1/4-mile Flower Bowl. On Tuesday, the remnants of Hurricane Jeanne dumped nearly four inches of rain on Belmont's turf courses, basically ensuring some cut in the ground. From nine starts over firm ground, the mare is 3-2-0, while in six starts over off turf she is 4-0-1.

This would be a perfect time for Fox Ridge Farm's Riskaverse to record her first victory of the season. The homebred daughter of Dynaformer has lost four this year, but comes off a strong runner-up finish against Crimson Palace in the Beverly D. (gr. IT).

For Riskaverse's trainer Pat Kelly, who will also saddle Evening Attire in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) Saturday, the biggest question about the mare's run in the Flower Bowl is distance. Riskaverse has been blanked in five tries at 10 furlongs.

"I'm not sure about the distance," Kelly said. "We threw a lot of mile-and-a-quarters at her last year. She stayed on nicely in Chicago at a mile and three-sixteenths, so that was encouraging. She's more mature this year than she was last year and that could help."

Riskaverse, who will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez, is already over $1 million in career earnings and Wonder Again would join her in the millionaires club with a third-place finish or better in the Flower Bowl.

German-bred Aubonne, who contested the pace in the Beverly D. before weakening to be a close sixth, has returned to America for the Flower Bowl. She was used to tracking horses in Europe where her best race was a win in the La Coupe at Longchamp (Fr-III) before shipping to Chicago in August.

Moscow Burning wired the 1 3/8-mile Sheepshead Bay (gr. IIT) field in her last visit to New York back in May. Since then the filly has run three times without a victory. Her last start came against males in the Del Mar Handicap (gr. IIT) where she finished third.

Trainer H. Graham Motion saddles Film Maker and Humaita. Both fillies exit divisions of the Sept. 5 Glens Falls (gr. IIIT). Film Maker was a close third in the second division while Humaita prevailed in the first division.

$750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/4 miles (turf)
1. Super Brand, Kiaran McLaughlin, Richard Migliore, 118
2. Humaita (GER), H. Graham Motion, Gary Stevens, 118
3. Film Maker, H. Graham Motion, Ramon Dominguez, 120
4. Moscow Burning, James Cassidy, Jose Valdivia Jr., 120
5. Wonder Again, James J. Toner, Edgar Prado, 123
6. Commercante (FR), Bobby Frankel, John Velazquez, 118
7. Aubonne (GER), Eric Libaud, Jose Santos, 118
8. Indy Five Hundred, Robert Barbara, Pablo Fragoso, 118
9. Riskaverse, Pat Kelly, Cornelio Velasquez, 118