Hessonite, a 5-year-old daughter of Freud who has won seven stakes, was voted 2012’s top New York-bred older female, and in 2011 – the year she began racing on turf full-time – was crowned champion turf female.
In three previous graded stakes appearances, she finished third in the Grade 3 Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park in 2011, second in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial Handicap at Parx Racing in 2012 and most recently fifth in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational on September 29 at Belmont.
“I think we saw [her ability when she finished fifth] in the Flower Bowl, and she didn’t get the cleanest trip,” said David Donk, who trains Hessonite for Philip DiLeo and William Punk, Jr. “She hasn’t won a graded stakes yet, so that’s the first goal. Can we expand on that? I think it’s possible.”
Junior Alvarado will replace injured jockey Ramon Dominguez aboard Hessonite, who drew the rail and was listed at 5-1 on the morning line.
“Ramon always says she’s the easiest to ride,” said Donk.
Trainer Chad Brown, who will be in Louisville Saturday to saddle Grade 1 Wood Memorial runner-up Normandy Invasion in the Derby, will send out a trio of fillies headed by 6-5 morning-line favorite Dream Peace.
Leaving from post position 7, directly between stablemates Pianist (on her inside) and Dealbata (on her outside), Dream Peace made three North American starts last year, all in Grade 1’s, emerging with a pair of thirds and one second. A Group 2 winner in France, the 5-year-old Dansili mare also owns a third-place finish in 2011’s Grade 1 E. P. Taylor at Woodbine.
Jose Ortiz will be aboard.
Pianist, most recently fifth in the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream Park, was listed at 6-1 on the morning line under jockey Chris DeCarlo, while Rajiv Maragh will be in the irons for Dealbata (5-1), ninth in her 2013 debut in the Grade 3 Endeavor at Tampa Bay Downs.
Additionally, Brown will send out Italian import Real Solution in the Fort Marcy, in which he is the second choice at 5-2 on the morning line from post position 2. Cornelio Velasquez will ride.
Trainer Christophe Clement also will be well represented in both turf stakes, with Naples Bay and Ruthenia going in the Beaugay and Lubash and favored Speaking of Which entered in the Fort Marcy.
Naples Bay, who has a victory and a second in four appearances at Belmont Park, including the Grade 3 Noble Damsel last September, and Ruthenia, 2-0-1 from five Belmont starts, will be making their 5-year-old debuts Saturday.
“We are excited to see Naples Bay run back,” said Clement. “We know she likes the track. We were looking for an easier spot for Ruthenia, but she is ready to run.”
Cornelio Velasquez will ride Naples Bay from post position 4 while Eddie Castro has the call on Ruthenia from post position 2. Both are 12-1 on the morning line.
Previously trained by Dermot Weld, Speaking of Which was a Group 3 winner in Ireland before crossing the Atlantic last fall to run in two West coast stakes, finishing second as the favorite in the Grade 2 Twilight Derby at Santa Anita Park and then 14th in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. Like the fillies, Speaking of Which spent the winter at Payson Park, most recently breezing five furlongs in 1:01 on April 24.
“We got him in late November, early December, and he’s definitely an exciting horse,” said Clement of the Moyglare Stud Farm color-bearer, who drew the rail at 2-1 on the morning line with Cornelio Velasquez in the irons. “He might want to go a bit further.”
Lubash, a 6-year-old New York-bred son of Freud, is 3-3-1 from 11 starts at Belmont, and enters the Fort Marcy off a solid second-place finish to Street Game in the Dave overnight stakes on April 14 off a five-month layoff. He will leave from post position 3 under Junior Alvarado, and is listed at 9-2 on the morning line.