Dubai: Godolphin chase a first victory in a race that they have rarely contested, the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks at Belmont Park, New York, on Saturday, with the exciting Hard Spun filly Antoinette.
Trained by Bill Mott, Antoinette seeks a second consecutive major win on turf having made virtually all of the running to post a career-best victory in the extended nine-furlong Saratoga Oaks at Saratoga in August.
Antoinette, who will be ridden by regular partner John Velazquez, has also scored on dirt when taking the Tepin Stakes at Aqueduct in December.
She has finished third on each of her first four starts this season, including good efforts in the G3 Wonder Again Stakes on turf at Belmont Park and on dirt in Saratoga’s G1 Coaching Club American Oaks.
Godolphin USA President Jimmy Bell said: “This looks a great spot for Antoinette. I think John Velazquez has learnt a lot about riding her — he said that she is a filly who loves the engagement of the battle.
“In the Saratoga Oaks, a horse drew right alongside her turning for home and she fought. You would like to think that she can control this race again and dictate the pace before responding when the pressure comes.
“Antoinette came out of her last race fantastically and is doing very well. She has placed at this level on the dirt and the opportunity to place in or even win a G1 race on turf would certainly highlight her versatility.”
The field also includes two European-breds with Group 3 victories in France including Magic Attitude who will get Lasix for the first time in her American debut for Lael Stable, the owners of Barbaro, and trainer Arnaud Delacour.
The daughter of the acclaimed Irish stallion Galileo raced in France, where she won a Group 3 at Longchamp and finished second in a Group 1. Her last race was a fifth place in a Group 1 in July. Since then, she has been training at the Fair Hills barn of Delacour.