New York Stakes 2021 Picks: The return of Joseph O'Brien

The New York S. is a fabulous race on the Friday card at Belmont, as trainer Joseph O'Brien enters. See who J.N. Campbell thinks has the best shot to score.
The New York S. is a fabulous race on the Friday card at Belmont, as trainer Joseph O'Brien enters. See who J.N. Campbell thinks has the best shot to score.

1¼ (Turf) New York Stakes (G2), $750k, F+M 4+

Last year’s 2020 edition of the New York S. was reduced to a $250k purse. The COVID-19 yoke was crushing to revenue streams, and even NYRA felt it. Now, the race is back, and the amount for this one is at an all-time high—a whopping $750k. A waltz through recent winners of this turf contest offers us some impressive connections, and one trainer’s name is found more than most. Chad Brown had names like the talented import, Dacita (CHI), the powerful Fourstar Crook, and the upstart Homerique.

In typical uncoupled fashion, the NYRA-based conditioner plans on sending Virginia Joy #2 and My Sister Nat #4 to the post in hopes of scoring a victory for Peter Brant—he owns both! The former is an experienced mare out of Acclimation (GB), that was in the thick of grass racing last year. After a 2nd place in this race and a win in the Waya (G3) @SPA, bettors kept hoping she would go on a run. It didn’t happen. The BC F&M Turf (G1) at Keeneland was a 9th place disappointment. Now, back at it, she gets Jose Ortiz back, after a freshening last month at Belmont in a Grade II. I am against her, and want to find something sharp somewhere else on the sheet.

As for the other Brown-Brant router, she is a German bred filly who came to America for her debut, and she did not disappoint at a short price. As distance specialist back in her native land, she competed in some excellent races at Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Baden Baden. Getting Irad Ortiz to ride her again is more than a plus, and I like her chances. At 10/1, this fresh face has the chance to take the stage with authority. I expect her to get bet down of course, but she has the capability to take on these other, more experienced U.S. runners.

With such a big field (by American standards), that “seasoned” group I was speaking of, includes some major firepower. We have the repeat champ in Graham Motion’s Mean Mary #7, who destroyed the field in the Gallorette (G3) on the Preakness undercard. That race was a good start, but its class meter was severally deficient when compared to this one. Her conditioner knows how to get mares like this ready, so do not be surprised if Luis Saez has her in contention in the end. Others from last season to consider are Arnaud Delacour’s well-prepped Magic Attitude #1, Mike Stidham’s redemption-seeking Micheline #3, QEII Cup-reigner Harvey’s Lil Goil #5, Shug McGaughey’s Flower Bowl victor Civil Union #6, and finally, Todd Pletcher’s class riser Always Shopping #12. Each of these could win this race based on their past competitiveness, but I am not necessarily keen to pick any of them on top.

My top pick is easily Mutamakina #11 from the barn of Christophe Clement. Talk about some major upsides … Last year, this well-bred turfer came to the U.S. with some solid races under her saddle that came from experience in France. When she got to America, Clement put her into a couple of strong races. She won a nice G3 at Aqueduct. After wintering from December to February, she was back in training, pointing to the "Sheeps" Bay (G2). The result was a 2nd place, and even more important was her late energy. Nothing like a good kick … and the even greater news is the piloting skills of Javier Castellano. He can navigate so well, unlike Prat, Ortiz, or Rosario.

One other one I want to mention … is the presence of Thundering Nights #9. If you thought this was a runner from the barn of Aidan O’Brien you would not be correct. This filly hails from Joseph O’Brien’s midst. The son of the Irish-based trainer gave up jockeying long ago, and he has turned his attention to both jump and flat racing. This particular filly was one of his best last year, winning a pair of August events. Coming into this race she could provide upside with Johnny V aboard. I like backing someone like O’Brien, who has a history of coming to the Breeders’ Cup and delivering results. Watch out for this European invader!

Playing against the well-known favorites could be an advantage. Here is a plan that should suit.

Wagering Recommendation: $2 Exacta Box, 2/4/9/11

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