McKulick looks to give Brown a record-extending seventh G3 Sheepshead Bay (2024)

Stakes Advance

Apr 27, 2024

McKulick looks to give Brown a record-extending seventh G3 Sheepshead Bay (1)

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by Christian Abdo

Klaravich Stables’ McKulick returns to Belmont at the Big A in pursuit of her sixth career graded stakes score in Friday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay for older fillies and mares going 1 3/8 miles over Aqueduct’s inner turf course.

Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown seeks a record-extending seventh Sheepshead Bay after past triumphs with Higher Truth [2023], Virginia Joy [2022], Santa Monica [2019], Sea Calisi [2016-17], and Rosalind [2015].

McKulick was victorious in her seasonal debut with a half-length score in the 1 1/2-mile Grade 3 Orchid under regular pilot Irad Ortiz, Jr. on March 30 over firm Gulfstream Park turf. The Frankel bay’s successful first start as a 5-year-old followed a respite since an off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Fillies and Mares Turf in November at Santa Anita Park.

Ortiz, Jr. has piloted 13 of the British-bred’s 15 starts and all six victories, including in last year’s Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya here and the Grade 2 Glens Falls over multiple Grade 1-winning multimillionaire War Like Goddess at Saratoga Race Course. In 2021, the duo teamed up to take the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational and Belmont at the Big A’s Grade 3 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational.

Aqueduct’s spring meet leading rider Manny Franco, who piloted the Brown-trained Higher Truth to win this event last year, has the call from post 4, as Ortiz, Jr. is committed to ride at Churchill Downs.

Brown will also saddle Klaravich Stables’ Royalty Interest, who stretches out after an allowance score traveling 1 1/16 miles on March 16 over firm Tampa Bay Downs green. The 4-year-old Le Havre bay improved upon a head defeat going one mile there at the same level on February 10.

Royalty Interest’s lone stakes try was a fifth in the one-mile Penn Oaks in June on firm Penn National grass. She made the attempt following a stalking debut graduation going that distance in March at Tampa Bay.

Eric Cancel will be in the irons from post 3.

Trainer Christophe Clement will send out two French-breds in Grade 2-winner Parnac [post 1, Dylan Davis] and Group 1-placed La Mehana [post 5, Vincent Cheminaud].

West Point Thoroughbreds and Dream With Me Stable’s Parnac was last seen finishing fourth beaten 12 1/2-lengths by McKulick in the Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya at Friday’s distance in October over yielding inner turf here.

The 5-year-old Zarak bay had previously made the grade with a pacesetting score in the Grade 2 Flower Bowl in September on firm Saratoga inner turf. She was able to slow the pace down under returning rider Dylan Davis through splits of 25.19 seconds, 51.33 and 1:18.92 with enough in reserve to hold off McKulick in a final time of 2:18.60.

Parnac has been training with Group 3-winner Atomic Blonde, who finished second in Friday’s Grade 3 Bewitch at Keeneland, with the pair breezing five furlongs in 1:03.80 on April 18 over the Payson Park Training Center dirt.

“Parnac is a nice filly. She is a proven horse, she won the Flower Bowl last year and has been training well,” Clement said. “We train her with Atomic Blonde who was second in the Bewitch yesterday and it is time to go.”

Parnac began her career with an allowance and stakes win in October 2021 in Germany for conditioner Andreas Wohler before being purchased privately and transferred to the Clement barn the following summer. Her first win for new connections came at fourth asking in an October allowance at Belmont at the Big A before a seventh-place finish in the local Winter Memories in November 2022.

LSU Stables’ La Mehana enters off a closing third after having to check early in her first start stateside in the Orchid, beaten four lengths by Friday’s likely favorite McKulick.

“She ran very well. She was unlucky in the race,” said Clement. “She ran a good race but was a touch anxious. She has talent, she won stakes in France so I’m excited to see her run here.”

The 5-year-old Al Wukair bay did all of her other running that makes up her 13-5-1-2 record in France, most recently finishing third in the 1 3/4-mile Group 1 Qatar Prix de Royallieu in September at Longchamp after winning the 1 1/2-mile Prix des Tourelles just two weeks before at Saint-Cloud.

“I don’t know if she is going to step forward, but she will run at least as well,” said Clement regarding her second start in the states. “She was unlucky in that last race, she got completely cut off coming out of the gate and it cost her a length or two. I’m not sure she would’ve won the race, but she would’ve been much closer.”

John Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services’ Grade 3-winner Star Fortress [post 2, Kendrick Carmouche] looks to rebound from an off-the-board finish in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 1 Jenny Wiley on April 13 over good Keeneland grass.

Trained by Cherie DeVaux, the 5-year-old Sea The Stars gray came from last-to-first to win her stateside debut by 10 widening lengths in the Grade 3 Cardinal in November on good Churchill Downs turf. She earned a 104 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort but has not been able to replicate the performance in her three subsequent outings, finishing off-the-board in Gulfstream’s Grade 2 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational in January and Tampa Bay’s Grade 2 Hillsborough in March.

The Irish-bred Star Fortress began her career in Great Britain in the barn of Ralph Beckett and graduated at second asking at Chelmsford. Out of the El Prado mare Lady Aquitaine, Star Fortress is a half-sister to Group 2-winner Lake Forest and stakes-winner Clint Maroon, who took the Woodhaven here in 2019.

The Sheepshead Bay is slated as Race 3 on Friday’s nine-race card, which co-features the Grade 3 Westchester in Race 8. First post is 1:05 p.m. EST.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at

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McKulick looks to give Brown a record-extending seventh G3 Sheepshead Bay (2024)


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