Holiday Disguise wins the 2018 Distaff Handicap

Holiday Disguise wins the 2018 Distaff Handicap

Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand

Holiday Disguise Seeks Graded Double in Ruffian

Harlan's Holiday filly won the Distaff Handicap (G3) last time out.

Lady Sheila Stable's Distaff Handicap (G3) winner Holiday Disguise will seek her second straight graded win in the $250,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2) May 6 at Belmont Park.

The Harlan's Holiday filly returned from an eight-month layoff in February to kick off her 4-year-old season with a 3 1/4-length win in the one-mile Biogio's Rose for New York-breds at Aqueduct Racetrack. Following that effort she faced open company for the first time in the Heavenly Prize Invitational Stakes, also at a mile, where she raced wide throughout to finish second to Divine Miss Grey.

Then Holiday Disguise turned the tables on Divine Miss Grey in the seven-furlong Distaff Handicap April 6. She turned for home five wide and dug in to win by a length over her rival. It was her fifth victory from seven starts for trainer Linda Rice.

BLOODHORSE STAFF: Holiday Disguise Makes the Grade in Distaff Handicap

"She ran a big race in the Distaff, and we're going to try her at the mile once again," Rice said. "I thought possibly seven-eighths would be her best distance, but she deserves another chance at the mile. We're excited about her this weekend. She won off a long layoff going a mile (in the Biogio's Rose) and in the Heavenly Prize, there was no pace in the race, so I'm hoping there's more pace this time. But if not we'll just be a little closer."

Also making a bid in the Ruffian is Unchained Melody, who will make her first start since the Alabama Stakes (G1) in August at Saratoga Race Course, where she was pulled up after the half-mile pole and was vanned off following the race.

"We gave her some time after the Alabama," said trainer Brian Lynch. "Clinically nothing clear ever really showed up after the race, but we wanted to give her some time off, so she got 90 days at Hidden Brook South in Florida. She came back in to us in January or so, while we were down in Palm Meadows, and we haven't missed a beat with her since. She's trained forwardly and had a couple of lovely breezes at Keeneland. Each work's been better than the last."

Unchained Melody, a 4-year-old filly by Smart Strike, is undefeated in two starts at Belmont, including a frontrunning, three-length victory in the grade 2 Mother Goose in July.

WINCZE HUGHES: Unchained Melody Scores Righteous Win in Mother Goose

"I couldn't be happier with the way she's coming into the race," Lynch said. "She's a year older and she's a big, strong filly. There's definitely a lot more to her. It seems like mentally she's progressed in the right direction also. We're happy to have her back and we know she likes Belmont. We're looking forward to running her on Sunday."

Rounding out the field for the Ruffian is multiple graded stakes winner Highway Star, who will look to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Heavenly Prize; California invader Faypien, winner of the Harry Henson Handicap at Sunland Park last time out for Hall of Fame conditioner Bob Baffert; Tequilita, who enters off a seventh-place result in the Madison (G1); and Pacific Wind, an impressive 8 1/4-length allowance winner April 13 at Keeneland.

Entries: Ruffian S. (G2)

Belmont Park, Sunday, May 06, 2018, Race 8

  • Grade II
  • 1m
  • Dirt
  • $250,000
  • 4 yo's & up Fillies and Mares
  • 5:18 PM (local)
11Faypien (FL)Martin Garcia123Bob Baffert5/2
22Holiday Disguise (NY)Keeneland Sales GraduateJose L. Ortiz121Linda Rice3/1
33Tequilita (KY)John R. Velazquez123Michael R. Matz8/1
44Pacific Wind (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateIrad Ortiz, Jr.117Chad C. Brown4/1
55Highway Star (NY)Angel S. Arroyo123Rodrigo A. Ubillo12/1
66Unchained Melody (KY)Joel Rosario123Brian A. Lynch9/5