Not only is Music Note battle-tested – Music Note comes in off a thrilling head loss to archrival Proud Spell in the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga Race Course on August 16 – but the A.P. Indy filly is back at Belmont Park, where she has won three of four career starts, including Grade 1 victories in the nine-furlong Mother Goose and the Coaching Club American Oaks at a mile and a quarter.
“Well, we’re going shark fishing,” said John Terranova, trainer of Sovereign Stable’s Awesome I Am. “Music Note is the big shark in there, and she certainly is a standout. But my filly is training fantastic and she fits with the others in this field. So, we’re going sharking and hopefully, we’ll get lucky.”
This will be Awesome I Am’s second start beyond seven furlongs and it will be the farthest she has been asked to race. But Terranova believes the Awesome Again filly will be more than up to the task.
“She’s got ability,” Terranova said. “We haven’t seen her best race yet. There is a lot more to see from her and distance won’t be a problem.”
Although she ran third in the Serena’s Song at Monmouth Park on July 13, Awesome I Am was only beaten a half length at a mile and 70 yards.
“She made her move a little early on the turn,” Terranova said. “She got even with a filly that Todd Pletcher had in there, and they both looked like they were going to separate themselves from the rest of the field. Todd’s filly pulled up, and we suddenly inherited the lead. She’s a very smart filly and does only what she has to do. She needs a target, and when she didn’t have one, she put the brakes on and started waiting on horses. When the others came, she started running again.
“So, I don’t think distance will be a problem for her. Like I said, she has lot of ability and, like a lot of Awesome Agains, she is a bit of a late developer.”
The “shark,” however, is fully developed.
Music Note has been in a battle for the division title all year, and it appears that crown will only be determined in a rubber match between her and Proud Spell. While she barely lost the Alabama, Music Note overcame plenty of trouble in the trouble-plagued Mother Goose to be a clear winner. Music Note, who had stumbled at the start, came out of that race with one shoe lost and another bent, while Proud Spell was disqualified at the end of a rugged journey. In fact, three of the four horses in the Mother Goose had problems at the start.
It is uncertain if Music Note and Proud Spell will face each other again. Proud Spell is expected to run in the Grade 2, $750,000 Fitz Dixon Cotillion Stakes at a mile and a sixteenth at Philadelphia Park on September 20 as she makes her bid for the division championship. The Gazelle is Music Note’s chance to build up her credentials for the title.
“First things first, and right now, we have to worry about the Gazelle,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to Music Note’s trainer, Saeed bin Suroor. “This race and the Cotillion are the last of the major races for three-year-old fillies. Saeed has suggested that the Breeders’ Cup (Ladies Classic, at Santa Anita, October 24) would be the possible direction for Music Note, but that will be a very tough race. Not only will she be facing older horses for the first time but the older horses she will be facing will be Zenyatta, Ginger Punch and Hystericalady. And they will be racing on a surface that no one is quite sure of what to expect.
“So, we’re looking at the Gazelle as a very important race. We don’t know Proud Spell’s schedule after the Cotillion. Music Note has won some important races and the Gazelle is also an important race and probably her last time against three-year-old fillies.”
At Saratoga, Music Note trained on the Polytrack surface at the Greentree Training Center. Back at Belmont Park, she put in a dazzling five-furlong work on Monday of 59.84.
“She loves Belmont Park,” Mettee said. “She goes so well over the surface and she loves the big track. Saeed said that her work on Monday was probably her best work since before the Coaching Club.”
Stonerside Stable’s Country Star is a dual Grade 1 winner on synthetic surfaces and prepped for this start with a half-length victory at a mile on Saratoga’s inner turf course. Trained by Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, she will carry 119 pounds.
Lael Stable’s Hamsa, fourth in the Mother Goose, and lightly raced Mega complete the field.
NOBLE DAMSEL FEATURES FRENCH INVADER
Sefroua, a three-year-old Kingmambo filly, will make her United States debut in Saturday’s 21st running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Noble Damsel Handicap for fillies and mares at a mile on the Widener turf course.
Trained by Jean-Claude Rouget, Sefroua has raced only in France, where she has three wins, two seconds and a third in six career starts. Alan Garcia has the mount.
Classic Neel was supplemented to this race by trainer Richard Violette Jr. A 4-year-old daughter of El Corredor, she clipped heels and stumbled in her lone start this year at Monmouth Park on August 13and was only beaten two and a quarter lengths.
Criminologist, winner of Aqueduct’s Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap, stakes-placed Cozzio Capital and Say You Will (IRE) are among the rivals here.
The field for Saturday’s 113th running of the Grade 1 Gazelle:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Awesome I Am John Terranova Rajiv Maragh 115
2. Hamsa Barclay Tagg Eibar Coa 115
3. Country Star Bobby Frankel John Velazquez 119
4. Mega Todd Pletcher Garrett Gomez 115
5. Music Note Saeed bin Suroor Javier Castellano 122
The field for Saturday’s Grade 3 Noble Damsel Handicap:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Say You Will (IRE) Saeed bin Suroor John Velazquez 114
2. Cozzi Capital Julian Canet Cornelio Velasquez 116
3. Classic Neel Richard Violette Jr. Shaun Bridgmohan 114
4. Nans Joy Bill Mott Rajiv Maragh 115
5. Trouble Maker Thomas Albertrani Eibar Coa 115
6. Criminologist Shug McGaughey Edgar Prado 119
7. Waquoit’s Love Tim Hills Garrett Gomez 115
8. Sefroua Jean-Claude Rouget Alan Garcia 113
9. Chestoria Bill Badgett Jr. Channing Hill 116
Classic Neel was supplemented to this race.