Quality Field Aligns for License Fee Stakes
The start of the annual spring meet at Belmont Park also signifies the start of top-quality turf racing to the New York circuit, a fact that is readily apparent upon glancing at the entries for Sunday’s $100,000 License Fee Stakes.The six-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares has attracted a quality field of eight starters led by the Christophe Clemente-trained mare Stormy Victoria. Although the six-year-old daughter of Stormy Atlantic has never won a graded stakes races, she’s been very competitive at that level and showed that she’s still in good form by winning the South Beach Stakes at Gulfstream in January with a powerful rally from off the pace. Stormy Victoria is best known for her exploits going a mile or farther, but she’s also been an effective sprinter, clocking six furlongs in a blazing 1:07.04 while winning an allowance optional claiming race at Belmont last fall.
Another accomplished runner in the field is Jennifer Lynnette, who hails from the barn of trainer Mark Casse. Jennifer Lynnette has spent the majority of her career racing at Woodbine, where she won the six-furlong Royal North Stakes (gr. III) on turf last July, but she also ran well enough when fourth in the Captiva Island Stakes at Gulfstream and fifth in the Giant’s Causeway Stakes at Keeneland this season, especially considering that those races were at distances short of her best. She’ll be stretching back out to six furlongs for the License Fee and will gain the services of the four-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey Javier Castellano.
Since the majority of the License Fee entrants prefer to run from off the pace, it could pay to keep an eye on the speedy pair of Nisha and Touch of Bling. The former has won four of her last five starts, including a six-furlong turf sprint at Belmont last summer, and has steadily risen from the claiming ranks to win an Aqueduct allowance race last time out for trainer Jeremiah Englehart. Touch of Bling is still seeking her first stakes win, but enters the License Fee off two straight gate-to-wire victories, including a six-furlong allowance race over the Aqueduct turf course.
Rounding out the field are Lady Alexander, a lightly-raced stakes-placed filly trained by Graham Motion; Always Thinking, winner of the Sensible Lady Turf Dash Stakes in September at Laurel Park; Pretty Perfection, fourth in the 2017 Presque Isle Downs Masters Stakes (gr. II); and Jc’s Shooting Star, a veteran stakes winner making her seasonal debut.
The License Fee Stakes is the eighth race of the day, with a post time of 5:18 p.m. Eastern.