07/06/2017 1:40PM

Brown sends four in Belmont Oaks – and not a weak link in the bunch

Barbara D. Livingston
New Money Honey, trained by Chad Brown, goes into the Belmont Oaks off this victory in the Wonder Again.

ELMONT, N.Y. – When it comes to Saturday’s $1 million Belmont Oaks, there’s really only one place to start: in the barn of trainer Chad Brown, who will send out four of the 12 3-year-old fillies entered in the Grade 1 invitational, including likely favorites New Money Honey and European invader Sistercharlie.

Although Brown obviously holds a potent hand in the Oaks, the remainder of the field is strong, with top contenders having come to town from several sections of the U.S. as well as Ireland and Canada. Among them are the California invader Beau Recall, the Woodbine-based Grizzel, the Aidan O’Brien-trained Key To My Heart, and Kentucky Oaks runner-up Daddys Lil Darling.

The Oaks will be decided at 1 1/4 miles on turf, and the distance could prove key to the outcome, with only three of the starters – Sistercharlie, Key To My Heart, and Violet Blue – having been that far.

Brown’s potent foursome also includes the English-bred, French-raced Uni, who also will be making her U.S. debut, and Fifty Five, who was purchased privately by owner Peter Brant and turned over to Brown following her victory in the Florida Oaks this winter at Tampa Bay Downs.

“I’m very fortunate to have this good a group of horses going into the race,” said Brown.

New Money Honey, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, finished sixth when launching her 3-year-old campaign in the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland before rebounding with a wire-to-wire, two-length win in the Grade 3 Wonder Again while stretching out to 1 1/8 miles here on June 6.

“She didn’t handle the ground at Keeneland, so I’m just throwing that race out,” said Brown. “She ran great here last time and is coming into this race super as well.”

Sistercharlie shipped to the U.S. and into Brown’s barn for the Oaks following her second-place finish in the Group 1 Prix de Diane going 1 5/16 miles just three weeks earlier at Chantilly. A Group 3 winner this spring, she is poorly drawn in post 12.

“It looks like she exited the Diane in pretty good shape, and I’ve really liked the way she’s trained since getting out of quarantine this week,” Brown said of Sistercharlie. “Naturally, we’re very disappointed in the post position. It’s going to be a challenge from out there.”

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Uni has been with Brown for more than a month after winning two of six starts in France. She’ll be competing on Lasix for the first time in the Oaks.

“Uni has been with me for a while now and turned in a nice series of works since she’s been here,” said Brown. “But it’s going to be a tall order for her, both going a mile and one-quarter and racing in the U.S. for the first time.”

Fifty Five completed a one-two finish for Brown when second behind New Money Honey in the Wonder Again.

“Her last race was encouraging, but like many others in the field, a mile and one-quarter is going to be a question mark,” Brown said.

Beau Recall has shipped across the country for the Oaks, trying to snap a string of three straight second-place finishes to the undefeated Sircat Sally in stakes.

“The decision to ship here involved several factors, one of which was staying away from Sircat Sally, at least until the Del Mar Oaks,” said trainer Simon Callaghan. “We also feel she’ll definitely like the mile and one-quarter, the way she’s galloped out in her last several races.”

The Oaks will mark the third start in less than three weeks for Key To My Heart, who flew to New York shortly after capturing a 1 1/4-mile stakes in her native Ireland on June 28.

Daddys Lil Darling has not started since finishing a fast-closing second behind Abel Tasman over a sloppy track in the Kentucky Oaks on May 5. By Scat Daddy, she finished sixth behind Fifty Five in the Florida Oaks in her only turf outing.

Grizzel brings a two-race win streak across the border, with both victories coming over the artificial surface at Woodbine, including a 1 1/2-length triumph in the Grade 3 Selene.

Key Contenders

New Money Honey, by Medaglia d’Oro

Last 3 Beyers: 87-79-85

◗ Brown said that although New Money Honey led wire to wire under Javier Castellano in the Wonder Again, she may not employ the same strategy Saturday. “There was just no pace in the race last time,” he said. “She’s tactical enough, so I’ll just let Javier play it at the break and decide what to do.”

Sistercharlie, by Myboycharlie

◗ Said Brown: “From watching the tapes of her races in Europe, it looks like she wants to come from further off the pace than Uni, and from that post, she might not have much of a choice anyway.”