Monomoy Girl Stands Out in Acorn Stakes
With a purse of $700,000 and a prominent place on the racing calendar, the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park is one of the most prestigious events in the country for three-year-old fillies.Held at one mile around one turn, you can usually count on the Acorn to attract a blend of fillies cutting back in distance from the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) five weeks earlier and stretching out in distance from sprint races. This year’s Acorn Stakes is no exception, and with three Grade 1 winners among the seven starters, it’s shaping up to be one of the highlights of the stakes-packed card this Saturday at Belmont.
The horse to beat is clearly #3 Monomoy Girl, who is a neck away from being undefeated in seven starts. This year alone, the daughter of Tapizar is a perfect 3-for-3, and remarkably, she’s achieved her trio of victories using three very different running styles. She overcame a poor start to win the Rachel Alexandra Stakes (gr. II) with a rally from last place, then won the Ashland Stakes (gr. I) in gate-to-wire fashion before parlaying a pace-tracking trip into victory in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I). Her latter effort was especially eye-catching since she overcame a wide draw to defeat a full field of rivals.
A one-turn mile should be no issue for Monomoy Girl, who won the Rags to Riches Stakes by 6 ½ lengths under those conditions last fall, and the Brad Cox-trained filly has posted three solid workouts since the Kentucky Oaks, including a bullet five furlongs in :59 2/5 on May 27th. It would be something of a surprise to see her lose the Acorn.
#5 Caledonia Road ran well over this track and distance when second in the Frizette Stakes (gr. I) last fall and followed up that effort with a decisive 3 ¼-length score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), a victory that made her the champion two-year-old filly of 2017. She recently returned from a layoff to win a one-mile allowance race at Belmont on April 29th, tracking the pace before pulling away to win by 3 ½ lengths. But the speed figures for that race came back a bit slow (89 BRIS and 84 Beyer), and in fact, Caledonia Road has never run faster than 84 on the Beyer scale. While Caledonia Road was certainly an accomplished two-year-old, there’s no guarantee that her success last year will translate to similar success against tougher company this year.
Therefore, I’ll hope to beat Caledonia Road in the exotics with #7 Talk Veuve to Me, sharp runner-up in the Eight Belles Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill last month, and #2 Spectator, second in the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) last time out.
Update: Since #2 Spectator has been scratched, let's replace her with #4 Gio Game:
$5 trifecta: 3 with 4,5,7 with 4,5,7 ($30)