06/29/2013 6:10PM

Belmont Park: Starformer upsets in New York Stakes

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Starformer bumped her record to 6-2-3 from 17 starts with her victory in the New York Stakes.

Stop us if you've heard this one before.

For the second straight Saturday, Bill Mott pulled off a stakes upset with a Juddmonte Farms-owned runner, reprising Close Hatches' shocker over 1-5 Dreaming of Julia in last week's Mother Goose with a similarly decisive triumph by Starformer in the $200,000 New York Stakes.

But while Close Hatches was second choice at 4-1, Starformer ($33.60) was the rank outsider among eight fillies and mares in the New York Stakes, which was her first victory at the Grade 2 level after three previous Grade 3 tallies.

Starformer won the R.G. Dick Memorial, Long Island Invitational, and The Very One in a five-race span from July of last year through February. Bettors, however, were thrown off the scent after she followed a fifth in the Orchid with a last-place finish in the Sheepshead Bay, in which she was beaten 32 lengths on soft turf at odds of 5-2.

Presented with firm turf in the New York, Starformer stalked Mystical Star and Anjaz three wide, and drove clear by 1 3/4 lengths over late-rallying Lady of Shamrock to win for the fifth time in seven starts beneath Edgar Prado.

"Well, you know, the last time she had an excuse," said Prado. "The ground was very soft, and I don't think she was very happy. Today was firm ground, she broke running out of there and I was able to sit behind the leaders most of the first part of the race. When I called on her, she fought hard and kicked in strong."

Starformer, a 5-year-old homebred mare by Dynaformer, ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:00.33. She earned $120,000, and improved to 6-2-3 from 17 starts overall.

"She ran great," said assistant trainer Leana Willaford. "I think the ground was a little too soft for her the other day, so we were pretty confident going into this race. She had a beautiful work last weekend and she certainly fits with these horses."

Dream Peace, the 9-5 favorite, steadied in the upper stretch and settled for third, a head behind Lady of Shamrock, and a neck in front of fourth-place finisher Minakshi.