07/25/2014 2:17PM

Natalie Victoria, Majestic River head Molly Pitcher lineup

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Aubrey Therkelsen/Equi-Photo
The 6-year-old Natalie Victoria comes into the Molly Pitcher following back-to-back victories.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Natalie Victoria and Majestic River both have won back-to-back starts coming into the Grade 2, $200,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes on Sunday at Monmouth Park. Both have already won a stakes at the meet, stamping them as top contenders in the 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares on the Haskell Invitational undercard.

It’s an extremely competitive renewal of the meet’s top event for females.

Natalie Victoria got the early jump, winning the Monmouth Beach Stakes in late May for trainer Michelle Nevin. It was her third straight race with a Beyer Speed Figure in the 90s. She has been freshened since that victory.

Natalie Victoria, a 6-year-old, has the most experience, with 32 starts and 10 victories.

Majestic River, a 4-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, really came to hand with two wins this summer at Monmouth. She has been stabled here all meet and clearly settled in with a second-level allowance score followed by a victory in the Lighthouse Stakes last month.

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“She’ll be taking a big step up, but she’s doing good since she’s been here,” said assistant trainer Anthony Sciametta.

Majestic River drew the outside slot in the nine-horse field.

“With her style, she likes to run early,” Sciametta said. “If no one goes, she could be on the lead. If they go, she stalks. I don’t think the post will be a problem.”

Molly Pitcher Stakes, Race 7

KEY CONTENDERS

Natalie Victoria (Last 3 Beyers: 97-99-91)

◗ She holds a substantial Beyer advantage over the competition and will be in the game right from the start. Natalie Victoria will be the one to catch.

◗ A $12,500 claim in December at Aqueduct, Natalie Victoria is 3 for 4 since the shift to the Nevin barn.

Majestic River (Last 3 Beyers: 81-81-66)

◗ She is finally starting to live up to her $425,000 yearling purchase price and has won three of her last four. She will need a substantial Beyer boost to keep pace with Natalie Victoria.

◗ Pletcher aims for a third Molly Pitcher win.

Montana Native (Last 3 Beyers: 91-86-80)

◗ Missed by only a half-length in the Grade 3 Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park, her fourth start since joining the Christophe Clement barn. This will be her eighth straight stakes appearance.

◗ The combination of Clement and jockey Joe Bravo is winning here at a 29 percent clip over the last two seasons.


DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 5 Zucchini Flower. Trainer Graham Motion is 20 for 49 with a $3.99 ROI over the past four years in dirt routes, third start after a layoff. Click for more details. Dan Illman

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DRF FORMULATOR FACT: No. 6 Lucky Rag Doll. Trainer Patrick McBurney is 3 for 10 with a $15.70 ROI in the last two years going from turf to dirt in route races. Click for more details. Dan Illman

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