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Happy at Belmont Park, Fast Tigress ready for Sands Point

ELMONT, N.Y. – After a dreary winter, such as the one just past, there is a special energy that spring brings to Belmont Park. The trees and the barns, empty since December, are now flush, respectively, with leaves and horses. There is an abundance of anticipation, from the next two-year-old race to the coming Belmont Stakes, this year to be run on Saturday, June 6.

Trainer John Kimmel is particularly happy to be back at Belmont Park, and he too, is eager to see if the return to Long Island is the key to victory for Fast Tigress. The Hold That Tiger filly is entered for Saturday’s 15th running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sands Point for three-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the inner turf course.

Co-owned by Sam Kassin and Eli Gindi – Kassin is also the breeder – Fast Tigress has one victory in four starts this year. That victory came at Gulfstream Park on January 15, when she overcame post 11 and a stumbling start for a neck victory. She then ran fifth and fourth at Gulfstream, beaten in both races by an average of four lengths.

On April 16, Kimmel sent her in Keeneland’s Grade 3 Appalachian, where she ran third, beaten by a length.

“The difficulty she had in Florida was that she didn’t take to shipping down from Payson Park to Gulfstream,” Kimmel said. “She’s a little nervous anyway, but she really doesn’t like to ship.

“At Keeneland, we had a chance to get her settled there first, bring her to the paddock and school her. She ran a gangbuster race at Keeneland. She was hung wide and she closed very strong.”

Fast Tigress has been at Belmont Park for several weeks now, and Kimmel believes she will run an improved race since she won’t have to ship. Jockey Garrett Gomez has the mount in the Sands Point and they will break from post 5 in the seven-horse field.

While traveling may not be Fast Tigress’s favorite pastime, it certainly hasn’t bothered Farnsworth Stables’ Gozzip Girl, who is the horse to beat in the Sands Point. She has a budding rivalry with Fast Tigress: Gozzip Girl defeated Fast Tigress in Gulfstream’s Coconut Grove Stakes on February 15 and the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride on March 15; Fast Tigress beat Gozzip Girl in a Gulfstream allowance on January 15.

In addition to her record for consistency, Gozzip Girl is a fresh horse coming off a strong effort in Keeneland’s Grade 1 Ashland, where she was beaten a neck on the PolyTrack surface by Hooh Why on April 4. That race also included last year’s juvenile filly champion, Stardom Bound, who ran third.

“She ran really well in the Ashland,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “It was a last-minute decision to run her there. She had only raced once on dirt (sixth in her maiden debut) and had spent the rest of the time on turf. But we felt that with the way she handled turf, maybe the Dynaformer (her sire) would come out on the PolyTrack. She made a great run and was unlucky to get beat a neck. If anything cost us the race, it was probably that the winner was able to cut the turn, while we had to come wide.

“So, we brought her back here. She’s had a little rest, and now our short-range plan is to run in the Sands Point and then the American Oaks on July 5 (Grade 1, $750,000, 3yo fillies, 10 furlongs, turf, invitational, Hollywood Park).”

Gozzip Girl will carry top weight of 121 pounds in the Sands Point, conceding four pounds to each of her rivals. Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux has the mount.

Magical Affair, who has a 2-3-0 record from five starts, has drawn the outside post for the Sands Point.

New York-bred Sapphire Sky, who won the restricted Bouwerie in the slop on May 3, makes her turf debut here.

Bluegrass Princess, third in the Herecomesthebride, has drawn the rail, and Hopeful Image and Warm Shower complete the field.

The field for Saturday’s 15th running of the Grade 2 Sands Point:


1. Bluegrass Princess Kiaran McLaughlin John Velazquez 117

2. Hopeful Image Gerald Procino Cornelio Velasquez 117

3. Warm Shower Angel Penna Jr. Rajiv Maragh 117

4. Gozzip Girl Thomas Albertrani Kent Desormeaux 121

5. Fast Tigress John Kimmel Garrett Gomez 117

6. Sapphire Sky David Donk Ramon Dominguez 117

7. Magical Affair Michael Matz Julien Leparoux 117


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