The Grade 1, $300,000 Gamely Stakes usually attracts some of the best female turf stars in North America and this year’s edition is no different, with four of the eight having made their last starts in other parts of the country. One of those is Uni, who won the Grade 2 Sands Point Stakes last summer in New York and who recently won the Plenty of Grace Stakes at Aqueduct. Another is Hawksmoor, winner of the Grade 2 New York Stakes last June and most recently a nose shy of victory in the Dahlia Stakes at Laurel Park. Both Madame Stripes and Madam Dancealot shipped from their home base in Southern California to contest the Grade 2 Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes at Churchill Downs last month, finishing fifth and seventh, respectively, but both are graded stakes winners on this circuit. Madame Stripes won the Grade 3 Megahertz Stakes in January and Madam Dancealot earned a victory in the Grade 2 Santa Ana Stakes in March. Midnight Crossing won the Grade 3 Robert J. Frankel Stakes in December and finished second in the Santa Ana, so she fits with her best effort, while Beau Recall won the Grade 2 Royal Heroine Stakes last month with a strong rally after being last of nine in the early stages. Mopotism runs on grass for the very first time in her 18th career start. She is proven in graded stakes company on dirt, having taken the Grade 2 La Canada Stakes in February. Sophie P rounds out the field, having made her U.S. debut last month with a sixth-place finish in the Royal Heroine.
Although she has never raced on the grass, Mopotism is my top choice to win this year’s Gamely Stakes. Second in the field in career earnings with $649,200, Mopotism has proved very capable of being competitive with some of the best fillies and mares in training over the past two years. After starting last summer with a head defeat in the Summertime Oaks, Mopotism subsequently ran in four straight Grade 1 stakes races facing the likes of Elate, Forever Unbridled, and Unique Bella. When none of those were among the entrants, she won the La Canada Stakes in January with a career best 114 Equibase Speed Figure, which she duplicated when second to Unique Bella in the Santa Maria Stakes in February. Coming into the Gamely off a third-place finish behind Fault (who won again) in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Stakes, the main question is whether Mopotism can transition that top form to the grass. Considering sons and daughters of her sire, Uncle Mo, win graded stakes races on turf as they do on dirt that is easily answered with “Yes.” For example, Uncle Mo’s son Mo Town won the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby last fall and his daughter Ultra Brat won the Grade 3 Gallorette Stakes on the grass last weekend. As such, Mopotism appears well suited to earn her first graded stakes win on the turf in this race.
Madam Dancealot won the similar Santa Ana Stakes at this distance on the Santa Anita turf in March, rallying from 14 lengths back early to win by a half-length and earn a strong 112 Equibase Speed Figure. Two races prior to that, Madam Dancealot earned a career-best 114 figure for finishing second in the American Oaks. If she can improve upon her seventh-place effort last month at a shorter distance in the Distaff Turf Mile, she could easily be in the thick of the action at the finish.
Uni ships cross country for the strong Chad Brown barn, bringing along regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., giving up an entire day of mounts at Belmont for this race (and three others on the day). Last month, Uni returned from six months off and won as if she had never been away from the races when victorious in the Plenty of Grace Stakes with a 105 speed figure that was three points off her career best. Last summer, Uni ran very well in the Lake Placid Stakes when second, following that up with a win in the Sands Point Stakes. As she makes her second start as a 4-year-old, Uni can improve off her Plenty of Grace effort and that makes her a fairly strong contender in the Gamely.
Beau Recall earned a 105 speed figure in her last start when winning the Royal Heroine Stakes on this turf course. In that race, Beau Recall put in a very strong rally from last of nine and was still seventh with an eighth of a mile to go, passing six horses in the stretch to win. Beau Recall also is a 4-year-old with room to improve and, as she proved herself at the distance of the Gamely last summer when coming up a nose shy of victory in the Del Mar Oaks, she has a good chance to succeed in this event with a strong effort.
The rest of the field (with best Equibase Speed Figure): Hawksmoor (114), Midnight Crossing (111), Madame Stripes (117) and Sophie P (100).