Since mid-August, seven turf stakes have been transferred to the dirt in New York. Four switched in October. An outstanding field is assembled for the Long Island.
"It's very annoying," said trainer Christophe Clement, who entered Moon Queen and Mot Juste. "It's especially tough for the owners. I just hope we get a chance to run. It's not like the course is getting abused. If the race comes off, I will not run either."
Joseph Allen's Moon Queen has not run since easily handling five rivals in the Very One at Gulfstream February 17.
"She won very impressively and then she got hurt," Clement said. "We gave her the time off and we got her back in September."
Clement's second entrant is Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's Mot Juste, who had been trained by Kiaran McLaughlin in her last three starts. Mot Juste had done well in McLaughlin's care, winning a second-level allowance and hitting the board in the Glens Falls and Flower Bowl (gr. IT).
"Mot Juste came to me a month ago in great shape when Kiaran shipped out [to Dubai]," Clement said. "She's a very nice filly and she should run well. Both horses run well on off turf."
Clement's pair will have to deal with James Wigan's Sulk, a European invader trained by John Gosden. Sulk, a 3-year-old filly, has competed with some of the best from across the Atlantic Ocean.
In August, Sulk finished behind Islington twice, finishing second in the Nassau Stakes and third in the Yorkshire Oaks. Islington ran third in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT). Recently, Sulk was the runner-up against males in Longchamp's Prix Royal-Oak. In 2000, Moonlady used that race at Longchamp to propel her to a victory in the Long Island, which was taken off the turf.
The trainer of Moonlady, Harro Remmert, will try for his second Long Island win with Uriah.
German bred Uriah prevailed as the even-money favorite in a listed stakes at Frankfurt recently. This will be the 3-year-old filly's first race outside of Germany.
Stonerside Stable's Nepenthe made the cross-country trip for the Long Island. Trained in California by Ron McAnally, the Broad Brush mare's last win came in the Dec. 8 Waya at Hollywood Park. She is 0-for-4 with one second in a spotty campaign this year. Leonard Green's Rhum, who sprung a mild upset in the Ticonderoga for New York breds, will stretch an additional three furlongs for the Long Island. In her only graded stakes appearance this year, the daughter of Go for Gin was fourth behind recent Athenia winner Babae in the Violet.
Should weather force the Long Island to the main track, Critical Eye would be poised to go over the $1 million mark in career earnings. A two-time Grade I winner, Critical Eye has run well going marathon distances, such as the off-the-turf 1 3/8-mile Sheepshead Bay (gr. II) last year.
"She's been in good form all year," Schwartz said of Critical Eye, who is $8,409 away from the $1 million mark. "She didn't have any pace to set her up in the Turnback the Alarm, but at a mile and three-eighths you don't have to worry about pace."
At age five, Critical Eye is nearing the end of her racing career. She could run in the Dec. 1 Montauk for New York breds.
"We'll see what happens if she runs Saturday," said Schwartz, whose parents own the mare. "She'll be bred next year. We don't know who we're going to breed her to, but it won't be something like Storm Cat or A. P. Indy. We'll breed her to race. She's been too good to us to consider selling her."
Tarnished Lady and Unrestrained have also been entered for the main track only.$150,000 Long Island Handicap (gr. IIT), 1 1/2 mile on turf, fillies & mares
PP HORSE, JOCKEY, WGT.
1 Wootie, Dale Beckner, 111
2 Uriah, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 112
3 Blond Dancer, Andrew Lakeman, 109
4 Peanut Gallery, Luis Chavez, 113
5 Mot Juste, Richard Migliore, 119
6 Sulk, John Velazquez, 118
7 Nepenthe, Aaron Gryder, 115
8 Sunstone,Shaun Bridgmohan, 114
9 Forest Princess, Heberto Castillo Jr., 110
10 Rhum, Mike Luzzi, 114
11 Moon Queen,Jose Santos, 118
12 Lady Of The Future, Jean-Luc Samyn, 114
Main Track Only
13 Critical Eye, Mike Luzzi, 122
14 Unrestrained,Aaron Gryder, 121
15 Tarnished Lady, John Velazquez, 118