Six talented fillies will contest Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont Park, including the top two finishers from the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Ashado and Island Sand. The other two legs of the Triple Tiara include the $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) on July 24th, and the $750,000 Alabama (gr. I) on Aug. 21st.
The Mother Goose will be the first start for Ashado since the Kentucky Oaks while Island Sand enters the 1 1/8-mile race off an impressive win in the June 4 Acorn Stakes (gr. I).
"She didn't break real sharp from the gate [in the Kentucky Oaks]," said Larry Jones, trainer of Island Sand. "She hopped and kind of got squeezed back and shuffled back a lot farther than we wanted to be. There was a very good chance we weren't going to beat Ashado that day, but we had a very good trip once we got out and got to run. Hopefully, we can turn the tables on her. She's the number one filly in the nation and if we win 10 races but never meet her, we won't ever get ahead of her."
After winning the Acorn, Jones sent Island Sand back to his base of operations at Ellis Park in Kentucky. She returned to Belmont on Tuesday.
Jones originally planned for the Mother Goose to be Island Sand's first start after the Kentucky Oaks, but Jones opted to go for the Acorn.
"Seeing how she came out of the race and has bounced back, I'm really glad we ran in the Acorn," Jones said. "I think she's a better filly than she was three weeks ago."
The Mother Goose will be Island Sand's fourth start for Osborne and Jones with jockey Terry Thompson aboard. Osborne purchased her over the winter.
In addition to Ashado, Island Sand will face Society Selection, a grade 1 winner over this track.
Jockey John Velazquez has gotten two-time grade I winner Ashado to settle in third position in the filly's last six races. With a lack of early speed Saturday, Velazquez and Ashado might find themselves on the lead.
Ashado, the runner-up in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), sat out the Acorn as Pletcher elected to keep the filly fresh for the second half of the year.
In three starts this year, her only defeat came in the Ashland (gr. I) at Keeneland when Madcap Escapade went gate to wire.
Irving Cowan's Society Selection finished second behind Island Sand in the Acorn. She also has a grade I win over the track, taking the Frizette last fall.
"The winner's going to be tough again," Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens said. "There are a lot of good three-year-old fillies."
Society Selection was outkicked in the Acorn and gets a jockey change to Edgar Prado for the Mother Goose.
"I'd rather she come from behind in a race where there's a fast pace in front of her," Jerkens said. "But in order to become a great horse you have to learn to do it all. You can't be one-dimensional."
The field for Saturday's $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) includes:
1-- Daydreaming (Jerry Bailey)
2-- Stellar Jayne (Robby Albarado)
3-- Island Sand (Terry Thompson)
4-- Ashado (John Velazquez)
5-- Miss Coronado (Jose Santos)
6-- Society Selection (Edgar Prado)
All starters carry 121 lbs.