By Brian Bohl —-
ELMONT, N.Y. – Arlene’s Sun Star Stable’s Miss Sky Warrior will be returning off a nearly six-month layoff when she competes against six other fillies and mares in the 23rd running of the Grade 3, $200,000 Turnback The Alarm on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Trainer Kelly Breen said he’s excited to see Miss Sky Warrior back in the action for the first time since running eighth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 5. Entering that prestigious race, the First Samurai filly had won five straight races, including the Grade 3 Tempted as a juvenile and the Grade 2 Demoiselle, Grade 2 Davona Dell on March 4 and the Grade 2 Gazelle on April 8 to start the year.
“I’m happy to have the chance to saddle her again, it’s very exciting,” Breen said. “It’s not the easiest of spots, but she’s been training very well and I’m eager to see what she can do for her fall campaign.”
After running her last two races at 1 1/8 miles, Miss Sky Warrior will be cutting back to the Turnback The Alarm distance of 1 1/16 miles. She will also be returning to Big Sandy for the first time since running fourth in her debut in September 2016.
“It was a matter of running her at a shorter distance in her first race back, and I think the easier fractions going a mile and a sixteenth will be right up her ally,” Breen said.
The Kentucky homebred, who has five wins in six career starts on tracks labeled “fast,” has already amassed a career bankroll of $651,590, posting wins at Parx Racing, Aqueduct Racetrack and Gulfstream Park.
“So far, she’s liked every track she’s been at, so my thought is that she can handle anything,” Breen said. “I just want her to have a good performance and come out of the race healthy.”
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will ride Miss Sky Warrior for the first time, drawing post 3.
Eskenformoney will be seeking her first win since the 2016 Grade 3 Rampart, though the Todd Pletcher trainee has finished on the board in five of her last six races against graded stakes company.
Included in that stretch was a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Beldame on September 30 at Belmont, which came on the heels of a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 26 at Saratoga in which the 5-year-old tied a personal best with a 91 Beyer Speed Figure.
Eskenformoney has just one win in 14 career starts at 1 1/16 miles but has six runner-up finishes and four third-place showings. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will ride from the outside.
Multiple graded stakes winner Birdatthewire will stretch out in distance in looking for her first win since 2015, when she captured the Grade 1 La Brea. Trained by Tom Proctor, Birdatthewire started her 5-year-old campaign with a second-place finish against allowance company on May 29 before returning to graded stakes company, where she earned a 92 Beyer for running fifth in the Grade 2 Princess Rooney on July 1 at Gulfstream.
In her 25th career start, the Summer Bird mare will be making her first Belmont appearance, drawing post 5 with jockey Manny Franco aboard.
Verve’s Tale, who followed up a win in the Summer Colony on August 20 at the Spa with a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Beldame on September 30, will return to Belmont for the first time since a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Belmont Stakes Day, June 10.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Verve’s Tale will be attempting to win her first graded stakes since the Grade 3 Comely in November to end her 3-year-old campaign. Joel Rosario will be in the irons from post 4.
Rounding out the field is Tejana, making her first stakes appearance since running second in the 2016 Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, for Hall of Trainer Shug McGaughey from post 2; A Place to Shine, for trainer Benjamin Perkins from the rail; and Indian Paint, for trainer Kelly Rubley, breaking from post 6.