Paulassilverlining wins the Gallant Bloom H.

Paulassilverlining wins the Gallant Bloom Handicap (Coglianese Photos/Susie Raisher)

Gallant Bloom Handicap Preview

by Alastair Bull

The grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap may not be the most publicized race this weekend – those are the Pennsylvania Derby (G1) and the Cotillion Stakes (G1) at Parx – but it does have relevance toward the Breeders’ Cup.

Though it isn’t a “Win and You’re In” race, the 6 ½-furlong race for fillies and mares at Belmont Park is an important lead-up for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1). At least some of its contestants are likely to make their way to the end-of-year championship race.

Last year’s winner, Paulassilverlining, went on to finish third in the Filly and Mare Sprint. The year before, La Verdad beat Wavell Avenue in the Gallant Bloom; the positions were reversed in the Filly and Mare Sprint. Before that, the 2008 Gallant Bloom winner Indian Blessing went on to finish second in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

Sunday’s race is headed by two of the better female sprinters of the year, Carina Mia and Highway Star.

Carina Mia moved to the Chad Brown stable in the middle of the year after finishing third in the Humana Distaff (G3) and fourth in the Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1). She adopted new closing tactics when winning the Shine Again Stakes at Saratoga before finishing third in the Ballerina Stakes at the same track later in the month.

Second in the Ballerina was Highway Star, who also finished ahead of Carina Mia when third in the Ogden Phipps Stakes. Her best efforts this year were victories in the Distaff Handicap (G3) at Aqueduct and in the Ruffian Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park.

Quezon finished second in this race last year and returns for another try at the race, while the wild card is the Pennsylvania-bred Lucy N Ethel, who races for the first time this year. Last year she won her first four starts, including the Old Hat Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park and the Prioress Stakes (G2) at Saratoga, before failing in the Raven Run Stakes (G2) at Keeneland. She now runs from the Todd Pletcher stable.