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No Criticizing Criticism for Saturday's Sheepshead Bay

ELMONT, N.Y. – In a sport where it is easy to knock the players, Darley Stable’s Criticism has made it hard for the naysayers. This particular `neigh-sayer’ simply delivers an honest effort every time she steps onto the turf course, and for that reason, it is hard not to like her in Saturday’s 51st running of the Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay for fillies and mares, 3 and up, at 11 furlongs on the turf.

Trained by Henri-Alex Pantall in France for her first three starts, the 5-year-old Machiavellian mare has won three of five starts in America for trainer Tom Albertrani and figures to be a tough foe in the Sheepshead Bay.

“I think she is suited to races at a mile and a quarter, a mile and three-eighths and a mile and half,” Albertrani said. “She doesn’t have to be on the lead. She has very good tactical speed and I don’t think she prefers soft or firm turf. She’s very game and very classy and she will run on anything.”

Criticism debuted for Albertrani here last October, rallying from off the pace to run second in the Grade 3 Athenia at a mile and a sixteenth. Albertrani then stretched her out and she became a graded stakes winner at Aqueduct, taking the Grade 3, 1 ˝-mile Long Island Handicap.

The Long Island was a significant race, considering that she had not raced for nearly 10 months before the Athenia and she was closing fast in that event.

Criticism spent the winter in Florida, where she won two graded stakes races: the Grade 3 Very One at Gulfstream Park in February and the Grade 2 LaPrevoyante at Calder on April 25. In between was a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream.

“She got a little tired in that race, but she still hung tough,” Albertrani said. “She inherited the lead at Calder and she again showed how game she is in winning that race.”

Javier Castellano will again have the mount on Criticism for the Sheepshead Bay, which will be race 9 of a 10-race card. It will also be the third leg of a guaranteed $350,000 late Pick 4 that begins on race 7.

NP Bloodstock Inc.’s German-bred Caprice is back after wintering in California, and she has come back with a new running style.

At Golden Gate Fields on April 4, she raced closer to the pace and ran third in the 11f-urlongYerba Buena. That prompted trainer H. Graham Motion to try the same tactic at Keeneland on April 23, where she ran fourth in the Grade 3 Bewitch at a mile and a half, but beaten less than three lengths.

“The race at Golden Gate, well, that’s just how the race unfolded,” Motion said. “The Bewitch was by design. It seems like in these longer races, there is a slow early pace. I would like to see her go a little faster. She can gallop all day, and I am hoping that she takes a liking to Belmont Park.”

Jockey Edgar Prado will ride Caprice.

Hall of Fame trainers Shug McCaughey and Bill Mott and Christophe Clement.have entered, respectively, Venetian Causeway, Mushka and Shadiyna (IRE) and all are dangerous players. Trainer Roger Attfield will go with Russian Rosie (IRE), who was fifth in the Bewitch after a troubled journey.

Kiaran McLaughlin has two here in Backseat Rhythm and Colina Verde (BRZ). A Grade 1 winner previously trained by Pat Reynolds, Backseat Rhythm had plenty of trouble with soft ground in the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland. Colina Verda exits a fourth at Keeneland on April 17 in the Grade 3 Bewitch, but was only beaten two and a quarter lengths.

The field for Saturday’s 51st running of the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay:


1. Backseat Rhythm Kiaran McLaughlin Eibar Coa 120

2. Venetian Causeway Shug McGaughey Jose Lezcano 116

3. Criticism (GB) Thomas Albertrani Javier Castellano 120

4. Shadiyna (IRE) Christophe Clement Rajiv Maragh 116

5. Mushka Bill Mott Ramon Dominguez 116

6. Russian Rosie (IRE) Roger Attfield Carlos Velasquez 116

7. Caprice (GER) H. Graham Motion Edgar Prado 116

8. Colina Verde (BRZ) Kiaran McLaughlin Alan Garcia 118


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