My Gal Betty, who has crossed the wire first in each of her three starts to date, will be looking to raise her game another notch when she steps into Grade 1 company for the $250,000 Natalma Stakes on Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack.
The Grade 1 Natalma is a ‘Win And You’re In’ race with the victress earning a fees-paid berth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs on November 2. A field of 15 was entered but only 14 can start.
Locally-based Catch a Glimpse pulled off the Natalma-Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf parlay in 2015 and went on to be voted Canada’s Horse of the Year.
Catch a Glimpse also inspired a stakes race, inaugurated here this year, for two-year-old fillies at six furlongs on the turf. My Gal Betty notched her first stakes win there, scoring by a widening 4 ¼ lengths while making her turf debut.
“When I first got her down in Florida, I thought she was going to be pretty special,” said trainer Roger Attfield, who purchased the Point of Entry filly for $120,000 at the Fasig-Tipton October sale.
“I had thought she’d be turf, going long. I’m surprised the Point of Entrys have shown as much speed as they have.”
Named for the wife of owner Bill Werner, the Kentucky-bred My Gal Betty was a romping winner here at first asking over 4 ½ furlongs of Tapeta and prevailed by a head in a hard-fought My Dear Stakes at 5 ½ furlongs on the same surface only to be disqualified and placed third.
My Gal Betty tuned up for the Natalma with six furlongs in 1:14.60 over a “good” turf training track last Saturday.
“It was a very nice breeze,” said Attfield. “She’s training very well.”
Rafael Hernandez, aboard for each of her outings to date, retains the mount.
My Gal Betty winning the Catch a Glimpse Stakes on August 25 at Woodbine Racetrack, Michael Burns Photo
La Pelosa, Chicas Amigas and Pivottina all are invading from across the pond for this year’s Natalma and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Capla Temptress, who won last year’s renewal.
Owned by Godolphin and conditioned by Charles Appleby, La Pelosa was successful when debuting on the synthetic surface at Kempton and then just missed as the runner-up in Ascot’s Group 3 Albany at six furlongs on the turf course.
Her most recent effort was a second-place finish in the Group 3 Sweet Solera, a straightaway seven-furlong turf race on August 11 which served as Capla Temptress’s springboard to success here.
In her fifth and most recent appearance La Pelosa finished second Newmarket’s Group 3 Solera Stakes, the same race that Capla Temptress used as her springboard to success here.
“She’s a tough, strong filly,” said Sophie Chretien, travelling head lass for Appleby’s arm of the Godolphin stable.
Chicas Amigas also has run five times and was purchased privately by Qatar Racing following an allowance win over males on the turf at the Curragh last time out.
Trained by Jessica Harrington, Chicas Amigas was a first-out winner on the synthetic surface at Dundalk and followed up on the turf with a second-place finish behind stablemate Servalan in a listed race at Naas.
The Irish-bred then failed to measure up in group stakes at Royal Ascot and Newmarket prior to her most recent success.
Pivottina has been racing in France, following up a victorious debut with a pair of second-place finishes, all in mixed company, before running fourth when facing fellow fillies in a Group 2 at Deauville over seven furlongs of turf.
Shipping in from south of the border will be Stillwater Cove, Mintd, and Chasing the Kitty.
Stillwater Cove won her debut at Keeneland before shipping to Royal Ascot, as is trainer Wesley Ward’s wont, and finishing 13th of 18 in the Group 3 Albany Stakes.
Back in the United States, Stillwater Cove captured the Bolton Landing Stakes over 5 ½ furlongs of turf in his last start on August 15.
Mintd raced four times in Ireland, winning her maiden and running second when competing in mixed company in a listed stakes. She then was purchased privately and now is based at Saratoga with Chad Brown.
Chasing the Kitty romped over one mile of Tapeta at Presque Isle Downs in her debut but then failed to menace in the listed P.G. Johnson over 1 1/16 miles of yielding turf at Saratoga.
Not Orbinary and Artilena are locally-based runners in the Natalma who are coming into the race off impressive wins in their second career outings.
The Kentucky-bred Not Orbinary ran well when debuting here over six furlongs of grass and then graduated in a seven-furlong off-the-turf event.
“She’s in good shape,” said Gail Cox, who conditions Not Orbinary and also owns the filly in partnership with John Menary and Haymarket Farm LLC.
Artilena ended second in her career debut at 5 ½ furlongs on Tapeta and then graduated by 11 lengths in an off-the-turf race at seven furlongs which went with just four runners.
“Her first start, she had some traffic issues,” said trainer Catherine Day Phillips. “The race really didn’t go perfectly for her, but I think she gained a lot of experience from that race and it also showed that she was a proper racehorse.”
“She came back in her maiden race and, while it was a small field, we couldn’t have asked her to do it any better than she did. She’s a nice filly, she really is. She’s very, very professional.”
Bold Script and Eyeinthesky, the third and fourth finishers in the Catch A Glimpse; returning first-out Tapeta winners Bohemian Queen and Comic Kitten; and the maiden Above All Names complete the local contingent.
Souciologist, second on the Tapeta in her only start and with the lowest earnings in the lineup, is also eligible.
$250,000 Natalma Stakes (Grade 1)
1/Not Orbinary/Gary Boulanger/Gail Cox
2/Comic Kitten/Flavien Prat/Mike Maker
3/Chicas Amigas/Oisin Murphy/Jessica Harrington
4/Eyeinthesky/Jerome Lermyte/Mark Casse
5/Chasing the Kitty/Nathan Vickers/Kevin Rice
6/Bohemian Queen/Luis Contreras/Sid Attard
7/Artilena/Eurico Rosa da Silva/Catherine Day Phillips
8/My Gal Betty/Rafael Hernandez/Roger Attfield
9/Bold Script/Patrick Husbands/Stu Simon
10/Mintd/Javier Castellano/Chad Brown
11/Pivottina/Joel Rosario/Ludovic Gadbin
12/Stillwater Cove/John Velazquez/Wesley Ward
13/La Pelosa/Jamie Spencer/Charles Appleby
14/Above All Names/Sky Chernetz/Bonnie Eshelman
15/Souciologist//Jesse Campbell/Kevin Attard