An international field of accomplished females—including Japanese group I winner Red Desire, United States champion Forever Together, and grade I winner Gozzip Girl--will go postward in the Oct. 2 Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.

The $500,000 race is named for Flower Bowl, winner of the 1956 Ladies Handicap at Belmont during her racing career, and a producer of multiple stakes winners. The Flower Bowl is the seventh race on the card and is slated for 3:59 p.m. (EDT).

Red Desire will make her first start in North America when she faces seven other females in the Flower Bowl. Trained by Mikio Matsunaga for Tokoyo Horseracing Co., Red Desire captured the 2009 Shuka Sho (Jpn-I), was runner-up in the Oka Sho (Japanese 1000 Guineas) and Yushun Himba (Japanese Oaks), and finished third in the Japan Cup (Jpn-I).

The 4-year-old daughter of Manhattan Cafe was fourth by a length in the Victoria Mile (Jpn-I) in her most recent start May 16.

After Red Desire bled following a workout in June, her connections decided to send the filly to North America, where she could run on Salix, for the Flower Bowl and the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs Nov. 5.

Red Desire, who arrived in New York Sept. 16, breezed five furlongs in 1:04.97 at Belmont Sept. 25.

“She’s been doing well since she arrived at Belmont,” said Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Yoko Yamamoto’s Tokyo Horseracing Co. “The training here is completely different. In Japan we have uphill, woodchips, turf, Polytrack, dirt--many courses for training.”\

Jockey Kent Desormeaux will ride Red Desire in the Flower Bowl. Desormeaux has already won a graded stakes at Belmont with a Japanese horse, having captured the 2008 Peter Pan (gr. II) with Casino Drive, owned by Yoko Yamamoto’s husband, Hidetoshi Yamamoto.

“Red Desire’s trainer, Mikio Matsunaga, used to ride with Kent,” said Tada. “He was a jockey and he rode with Kent and knows Kent very well. It was an obvious decision to have Kent ride for us. He knows how Japanese horses behave and how they run.”

Installed as the 5-2 favorite on the morning line, Red Desire drew post position 2. The filly, who was bred by Shadai Farm in Japan, is out of the Caerleon mare Great Sunrise.

Augustin Stables’ Forever Together, who was 2008's champion grass mare, was third in the Glens Falls (gr. IIIT) to fellow Flower Bowl contender Keertana, and is now seeking to better that effort.

“We felt that the Glens Falls was her worst race,” said Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard. “We were rather disappointed. She was third and was farther back than in her previous races.”

While Forever Together’s 2010 record also includes placings in the Jenny Wiley (gr. IIT), Gamely (gr. IT), and Diana (gr. IT), Sheppard believes the 6-year-old stretch runner hasn’t been racing to her potential and that a change in tactics is in store.

“She’s going to race twice more in her life and we want to see if keeping her closer to the pace will help her,” Sheppard said. “Hopefully she’ll run a respectable race and we can wheel her back in the Breeders’ Cup.”

Forever Together, who won the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and was third in that race in 2009, will be ridden by Garrett Gomez for the first time in the Flower Bowl. The 6-year-old daughter of Belong to Me drew post 6 as the 3-1 second choice.

Gozzip Girl, who won the 2009 American Oaks Invitational Stakes (gr. IT), is looking to redeem herself after her last few unplaced efforts. Trained by Martin Wolfson for Myron Miller, the daughter of Dynaformer will enter the Flower Bowl off a sixth-place finish in the John C. Mabee (gr. IIT) at Del Mar Aug. 15.

Shared Account, second by a head to Proviso in the July 31 Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga, will look to go one better in the Flower Bowl.

“The margin wasn’t much, and it was diminishing,” said Graham Motion, who trains Shared Account for Sagamore Farm. “I have tremendous respect for Proviso, whom I believe is the top middle distance filly in the country. It was disappointing to not win, but Shared Account has never disappointed me with her performances.”

The Flower Bowl will serve as Shared Account’s first start beyond 1 1/8 miles, but Motion is confident the daughter of 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Pleasantly Perfect is up to the challenge.

“I haven’t been surprised with her development this year,” said Motion. “She has always been a consistent filly. I think this is the distance she has always wanted. She’s a very tall and long filly with a long stride.”

Edgar Prado retains the mount aboard Shared Account, who will leave from post 7 at 6-1 on the morning line.

Completing the field is stakes winner Changing Skies; Irish group III winner and U.S. graded stakes-placed Ave; and stakes-placed Tarrip, who was third in a Belmont optional claimer Sept.  23.

HRRN’s three hour broadcast begins at 3:00 p.m. ET and will include coverage of all five Grade 1 stakes on the Belmont card. The broadcast can be heard on the HRRN flagship station, WLXO 96.1 FM in Lexington, KY, and will be streamed live on both the HRRN website and Breeders’ Cup site. Mike Penna will anchor the HRRN coverage, along with analyst and former top trainer Jude Feld.

 

Flower Bowl Invitational (gr. IT, Race 7, 3:59 p.m.), $500,000, Belmont Park, Oct. 2, fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, 1 1/4 miles
Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, Odds

1. Gozzip Girl (KY), 121, M D Wolfson, 12-1
2. Red Desire (JPN),  K J Desormeaux, 121, M Matsunaga, 5-2
3. Changing Skies (IRE),  J R Velazquez, 119, W I Mott, 6-1
4. Tarrip (KY),  R Maragh, 119, C Clement, 20-1
5. Ave (GB),  J Castellano, 119, R L Attfield, 6-1
6. Forever Together (KY),  G K Gomez, 121, J E Sheppard, 3-1
7. Shared Account (KY), E S Prado, 119, H G Motion, 6-1
8. Keertana (KY),  J Lezcano, 119, T F Proctor, 5-1

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