Friday, October 11, 2013

Discreet Marq tops talented field for Pebbles

ELMONT, N.Y. - A talented field of 3-year-old turf fillies, headed by Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq, will assemble on Monday for the $200,000 Pebbles, the Columbus Day feature at Belmont Park.

The one-mile Pebbles will be run as race 8 on the 10-race holiday card at Belmont, where fans also can enjoy a Country Music Fest in the backyard featuring the sounds of Wil Van Awken, Mark Newman, Sean Cuoco, Tony Montalbo, and others. Gates open at 11 a.m. with first race post time at 12:50 p.m.

Discreet Marq, who was bred in New York by owner Patricia Generazio, has put together a sterling sophomore campaign facing open company under the guidance of trainer Christophe Clement. Winner of two of four starts in 2012, the gray filly opened her 3-year-old season finishing second and third in a pair of overnight stakes at Gulfstream Park, then returned to her home base to fashion a front-running victory in the Grade 2 Sands Point.

In her only start against state-breds this year, Discreet Marq rolled to an overpowering 6 ¼-length win in the Eventail overnight stakes on July 4 at Belmont before traveling to California and emerging victorious in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 17. Most recently, she was second by 1 ½ lengths in the Grade 1 Garden City on September 14 at Belmont.

Although she would have been among the favorites for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland Race Course on October 12, Clement opted to keep the Discreet Cat filly at home at Belmont.

"She came out of the Garden City in very good order but I did not want to ship her again," said Clement, whose only training victory in the Pebbles came in 2001 with Love N' Kiss S. "She just had two tough races, and I thought to ship her would be a touch abusive for the filly."

Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Discreet Marq, the 2-1 morning-line favorite who will be making her first start at a mile since January, when she was second by a neck after setting the pace in the Sweetest Chant at Gulfstream.

"I've always thought she was more of a miler than a mile-and-an-eighth horse, because she has so much natural speed," said Clement of Discreet Marq, who drew post position 8. "If there is a problem with the weather, we'll go back in the Ticonderoga on [Empire] Showcase Day [October 19]."

Tapicat enters the Pebbles off a freshening following her fifth-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Lake Placid on August 18 at Saratoga and a third in the Grade 2 Lake George four weeks earlier. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Tapicat launched her career just over a year ago at Belmont, finishing third in her debut and then reeling off three straight wins, including a 2 ¾-length victory in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks.

Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will ride Tapicat, 7-2 on the morning line, from post position 6.

A sensation on dirt early in her career, Stonestreet Stable's Teen Pauline is 12-1 as she goes in search of her first stakes win. Switched to the turf in August by trainer Todd Pletcher after failing to menace in two main track races, Teen Pauline won a first level allowance and next finished second in the Riskaverse, both at a mile on the turf.

"We were just a little frustrated with the results we were getting on the dirt," said Pletcher of Teen Pauline, who set a track record of 56.53 seconds for 5 ½ furlongs in her debut at Saratoga last year. "We felt like her action indicated to us it might be worth giving her a shot on the turf. We breezed her on the turf and we liked what we saw, and there we went."
With Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard, the Tapit filly drew the rail.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had been hoping for an easier spot for Darley Stable's With Sugar On Top, who finished ninth, beaten 5 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 1 Garden City last time out.

"The last race was a Grade 1 so we thought we'd drop into an overnight stakes, but there are Grade 1 winners in here, so it's a tough race," said McLaughlin of With Sugar On Top, 20-1 on the morning line. "We would love to get some black type for her; she's a nice filly. Last time she angled a little wide into the lane and finished ninth, beaten five lengths, but it was not a bad run. She ran well to only lose by five, so hopefully she'll run well."

Jose Lezcano will ride from post position 4.

Eight months after breaking her maiden going a mile, Reddam Racing's Frege returned to the races to finish a rousing second facing older horses on September 8 at Belmont Park. The Johar filly, who began her career in Europe, went five wide in the stretch to miss by a neck to Sustained in the one-mile race.

"She had a little stress fracture after she broke her maiden and we gave her a little time off," said trainer Mark Hennig. "She came back and she has done really well with the time off. She seems to have matured a lot. I thought she ran really well off the layoff; looking at the sheet numbers, she ran a lot faster than she had as a 2-year-old. She ran a seven on the sheets, which would make her pretty competitive if she could match that."

Jose Ortiz will ride Frege, 20-1 on the morning line, from post position 5.

Rounding out the field are the Chad Brown-trained French import Dauphine Russe, who will run on Lasix for the first time and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line; Mariel N Kathy, winner of an optional claimer going a mile last time out, and Summer of Fun, most recently fifth in the Garden City. Flash Forward, who is coupled with Mariel n Kathy, Toasting and Galloping Giraffe were entered and will run only if the race comes off the turf.

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