THREE STRAIGHT FOR MAURALAKANA IN NEW YORK STAKES?
When Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux hopped off Mauralakana after her three-length romp in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay Handicap on the turf here on May 24, he summed up her performance in one word: Scintillating.
Saturday, all indications are the 5-year-old bay mare will unleash the same devastating turn of foot she displayed in that race as she takes on a short field of four other fillies and mares in the 65th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 New York Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile and one-quarter on the turf.
While Mauralakana does everything right during her races, said Clement, she can be somewhat difficult to work with in the mornings.
“She is a tough horse to train,” he said. “She’s very strong, and she has a tendency to overdo it.”
Purchased for $900,000 by Robert Scarborough with the intention of sending her to the Southern hemisphere as a broodmare at the end of this year, Mauralakana opened her 2008 campaign with a narrow victory over Tejida in the Grade 3 The Very One at Gulfstream Park, then was outkicked at the end of the 1 ½-mile Grade 3 Orchid Handicap, finishing second to Hostess. In April, at Calder, she bided her time and whizzed to a three-quarter length win in the Mairzy Doates Handicap, and then made her first appearance at Belmont Park in a year a memorable one in the 1 3/8th mile Sheepshead Bay with the dazzling late move.
Unlike the Sheepshead Bay, in which she toted 119 pounds, under the conditions of the New York Stakes she will be asked to carry 123 pounds, including Desormeaux, giving from three to seven pounds to her rivals.
“That makes it a more difficult assignment,” said Clement.
Also starting in the New York will be the filly who handed Mauralakana her only loss this year, the H. James Bond-trained Hostess. In her first start of 2008, she was seventh in The Very One and in her last start finished third, beaten 3 ½ lengths, in the Sheepshead Bay.
Seeking her first victory this year is the Michael Matz-trained Tejida. Second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in her first start at age 5, Tejida surrendered the lead to Mauralakana in the Very One to finish second again, and missed by a half-length after setting the pace in the Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland.
Adding an international flavor will be Dynaforce, no worse than third in six of her seven starts in France. The 5-year-old daughter of Dynaformer, previously trained by Andre Fabre, will be saddled by Hall of Famer Bill Mott in the New York.
Archstone, second in the Sabin Stakes here on May 7, completes the field for the New York, with Spring Waltz entered as main track only.