Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 13, 2013 at 12:00 AM
Summer of Fun poised for big run in Garden City
ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer George Weaver and jockey Joe Rocco Jr. certainly had a fun summer at Saratoga, and they hope the fun continues Saturday at Belmont Park when they team up with Summer of Fun in a terrific renewal of the Grade 1, $500,000 Garden City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
Weaver won nine races at the Spa, and Rocco, in his first summer riding full time there, had 15 winners, including two stakes wins for Weaver. One of those came aboard Summer of Fun, when she rallied five wide in the stretch to win the Auntie Mame Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths.
That race was Summer of Fun’s first since May 17, when she was beaten a nose by Emotional Kitten in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico. A foot bruise forced Summer of Fun to miss some time and threw her schedule off kilter for the graded races at Saratoga.
But her performance in the Auntie Mame had Weaver immediately thinking about the Garden City – run at 1 1/8 miles over the inner turf – where Summer of Fun will toil with established Grade 1 winners Emollient and Discreet Marq.
“It would not surprise me if we won the race,” Weaver said Thursday. “I respect the competition, but based on how my filly has trained over the winter, how she’s really come along and developed as a 3-year-old, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. We all hope to get Grade 1 horses. I’m hoping she stacks up well with them.”
At 2, Summer of Fun finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at odds of 43-1. While she won’t be that price Saturday, her 8-1 morning-line odds would certainly be value, considering she’s been 8-5 or shorter in her three starts this year.
Coming off Grade 1 wins in Southern California, Emollient and Discreet Marq will deservedly vie for favoritism in the Garden City. Emollient made a successful turf debut two months ago winning the Grade 1 American Oaks at Betfair Hollywood Park, beating the aforementioned Emotional Kitten by a half-length. She has not run since, but that was by design, according to Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
“We planned on giving her the time, even before I saw her” after the race, Mott said. “She was maybe a little light coming out of the race in California, but she’s put the weight back on and looks really good.”
Mike Smith will be in from California to ride Emollient from the rail.
Discreet Marq, a New York-bred daughter of Discreet Cat, has reeled off three consecutive victories, and she demonstrated the ability to rate when she won the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on Aug. 17. In her previous two victories, both at Belmont Park, Discreet Marq won in front-running fashion.
“We taught her in the morning to relax a little bit,” said trainer Christophe Clement, a two-time Garden City winner. “Her race in California was an impressive performance. I’m running her back quicker than I thought I would, but she’s come back and trained great.”
With Julien Leparoux on vacation, Clement has tabbed Garrett Gomez to ride Discreet Marq.
Chad Brown, who won last year’s Garden City with Samitar, sends out the uncoupled entry of Watsdachances and the European import Alterite on Saturday. Watsdachances, whose last victory came in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo here last October, comes off two narrow losses in graded events at Saratoga.
Alterite was beaten a nose in a Group 1 at Longchamp in May. She makes her first start since finishing sixth in the Group 1 French Oaks in June.
Caroline Thomas was placed first in the Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga after being interfered with in the stretch by Nellie Cashman.
Other contenders include Effie Trinket, who finished second to Summer of Fun in the Auntie Mame; Concise, beaten less than a length in the Lake Placid; and With Sugar On Top, an off-the-pace allowance winner on a speed-favoring Saratoga turf course.
Longshots Precarious and Praia complete the field.