Thursday, March 19, 2009

Emerging Star Criticism the One to Beat in Orchid Sunday

Darley Stable’s 5-year-old English homebred mare Criticism has won the 12-furlong Long Island Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct on Nov. 1 and 11-furlong The Very One Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 22 in her last two starts for trainer Tom Albertrani, and will likely be favored to make it three in a row in Sunday’s $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3).

Jockey Edgar Prado gets a return call on Criticism in the 1½ mile turf feature facing seven rival fillies and mares as she bids to continue her ascent to the top ranks of the filly and mare turf stakes division in the U.S. after campaigning with moderate results as a 3-year-old in France through the 2007 campaign.

Criticism is a beautifully bred daughter of Machiavellian out of Innuendo, who closed out her international career winning the 2001 edition of the Orchid for owner-breeder Gerald Leigh and trainer Christophe Clement after winning The Very One in her previous start.

Among the chief threats to Criticism’s bid to make family history will be another European import in Swettenham Stud’s 4-year-old Irish-bred filly Dress Rehearsal, to be ridden by Kent Desormeaux for trainer Bill Mott. The daughter of Galileo finished second in The Very One, 2½ lengths behind Criticism, in her third start in the U.S. after campaigning in Ireland and England through last summer.

In addition to Innuendo, trainer Christophe Clement has won the Orchid on five other occasions and will have a chance to add another when he sends out Aston House Stud’s 5-year-old English-bred Lamentation with Rene Douglas in the saddle.

Lamentation is a daughter of Singspiel and finished an even fifth in The Very One after a sharp allowance victory over the course and 12-furlong distance here on Jan. 9. She came to the U.S. last summer from Italy to finish fourth in the Glens Falls Handicap (G3) at Saratoga on Sept. 1 in her American debut.

Completing the field for Sunday’s 46th edition of the Orchid are Marion Montanari’s Julia Tuttle, Elvis Trujillo; Nancy and Richard Kaster’s Favorite Fantasy, James McAleney; Joseph Higgins’ Laguna Plateada, John R. Velazquez; Rocinante Racing’s Empiress, Julien Leparoux; and Sackatoga Stable’s Pastel Gal, Jose Lezcano.

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