Although it’s only a listed stakes race, the $150,000 Jersey Girl Stakes on Friday at Belmont Park has drawn a strong field of seven three-year-old fillies, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising in runners from this race wide up playing a major role in future graded stakes races like the Victory Ride Stakes (gr. III), Test Stakes (gr. I), and Prioress Stakes (gr. II) later this summer.
The morning line favorite at 2-1 is Kareena, a filly that has kept great company in the first two starts of her career. In her debut on March 6th at Gulfstream Park, she finished second to subsequent graded stakes winner Lightstream in a seven-furlong maiden special weight, and the third-place finisher–J La Tache–came back to win a maiden special weight in her next start. Better still, when Kareena broke her maiden in gate-to-wire fashion sprinting six furlongs at Keeneland on April 16th, she did so by five lengths while defeating the next-out maiden winners Julerette and Hilarious Brown.
In terms of Beyer speed figures, Kareena looks tough to beat. She has earned numbers of 98 and 84 in her first two races, both of which are higher than any number posted by any of her six rivals in the Jersey Girl Stakes. It’s not the biggest sample size, but it does suggest that Kareena is a legitimate favorite that will be difficult to beat.
But all that said, I think the proven class of Off the Tracks might come through in this race. Whereas Kareena will be making her first start against winners, Off the Tracks is already a graded stakes winner, having won the Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III) at Saratoga last summer by a decisive 3 1/4 lengths. That race marked the end of a brief, but unbeaten two-year-old season, and Off the Tracks picked up right where she left off when winning the 6 1/2-furlong Margate Handicap on February 21st at Gulfstream Park by an easy 4 1/4 lengths.
I’d also like to briefly mention One True Kiss, who has unleashed strong late rallies in her last two starts to win an allowance race and finish second in the Miss Preakness Stakes (gr. III). While she got great pace setups in both of those races, a similar pace could unfold on Friday, and that could help One True Kiss rally to hit the board at around 8-1 or so.
So to recap, I like Off the Tracks best in the Jersey Girl Stakes and would even consider singling her in multi-race wagers, although for deeper tickets Kareena warrants inclusion as well. Good luck to all, and enjoy the race!
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