by Ryan Martin
Robert S. Evans’ New York homebred New Ginya will attempt to double up on stakes scores when facing six other Empire State-bred fillies and mares in Friday’s 14th running of the $125,000 John Hettinger going nine furlongs over the inner turf, at Belmont at the Big A.
Trained by Christophe Clement, New Ginya boasts a consistent 5-2-2-1 record over the Aqueduct turf, and enters from a triumphant stakes debut in the state-bred Yaddo Handicap going 1 1/16 miles on August 27 at Saratoga Race Course. There, she came from last-of-8 down the backstretch to launch a late kick and win by 3 3/4 lengths over the good Mellon turf course. The triumph garnered a career-high 90 Beyer Speed Figure.
New Ginya has upped her form during her current 4-year-old season, winning 3-of-5 starts. Following a string of four second-place finishes to round out her sophomore year, the Tonalist bay was triumphant against winners in her 2023 debut going 1 1/16 miles on April 8 over the Aqueduct turf. Two starts later, she shortened up to seven furlongs to defeat state-breds by three-quarters of a length on June 25 over the Belmont Park Widener turf course.
New Ginya arrived at Clement’s Belmont division on Saturday after training at Saratoga following her last out score. She breezed an easy half-mile in 51.88 seconds over the Oklahoma training turf course on Friday.
“She trained very well this morning after arriving from Saratoga yesterday,” said Clement’s Belmont-based assistant Christophe Lorieul. “She’s training forwardly, she looks well and ready for Friday’s race.”
New Ginya, who boasts a consistent 12-4-4-2 record and $334,110 in earnings, is the first progeny out of the multiple stakes-winning Successful Appeal mare Rapid Rhythm.
Dylan Davis, the pilot in all but one of her dozen lifetime starts, will ride from post 2.
The second, third and fourth place finishers of the Yaddo will rematch against New Ginya, including Diane Manning’s Spungie [post 5, Joel Rosario] for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Bred by Waterville Lake Stable, the 6-year-old Hard Spun bay was second in the Yaddo in her first start since a distant third in the Bay Ridge in December at the Big A over a muddy Big A main track.
A three-time winner, Spungie made her stakes debut in last year’s Ticonderoga when finishing a close third behind returning rival Runaway Rumour. She won her previous start, a one-mile allowance optional claimer for state-breds over Aqueduct’s outer turf.
Lawrence Goichman’s homebred Runaway Rumour [post 3, Jose Lezcano] finished third in the Yaddo last out and brags field-best earnings of $502,555 through a 20-4-4-5 record and will make her debut for trainer Linda Rice.
Originally campaigned by Jorge Abreu, the 5-year-old daughter of Flintshire was third in the open company Plenty of Grace where she finished two lengths behind Evvie Jets and Whitebeam, who were both graded stakes winners at Saratoga this summer. Upon being transferred to Horacio De Paz, Runaway Rumour was second beaten a nose in the Mount Vernon in May at Belmont Park before finishing third in the July 4 Port Washington at the same oval. Runaway Rumour finished third in last year’s John Hettinger.
Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will send out Barry Schwartz’s homebred Whatlovelookslike [post 1, Flavien Prat] following a fourth-place finish in the Yaddo. The English Channel 4-year-old chestnut put together three straight wins heading into the Yaddo, capturing a one-mile allowance optional claimer over next-out winner Starship Laboan on May 26 at Belmont Park en route to a half-length score in the Port Washington over a yielding Belmont inner turf. She stretched out to 11 furlongs against open allowance optional claiming company on August 6 at Saratoga to win by 3 1/4 lengths over a good inner turf course.
Completing the field are Saratoga Chrome [post 4, Jose Gomez], Out of Sight [post 6, Irad Ortiz, Jr.], and Sweetie [post 7, Javier Castellano]. Sunset Louise, Bustin Bay, and Know It All Audrey have been entered for main-track only.
The John Hettinger honors the late NYRA former board member, whose family owned Akindale Farm in Pawling, New York. Hettinger took over the farm in 1973 and under his watch, the farm expanded to 800 acres while standing stallions such as Personal Flag and D’Accord. Hettinger was presented with the Eclipse Award of Merit in 2000 and was posthumously elected to the Hall of Fame’s Pillars of the Turf in 2019.
The John Hettinger is slated as Race 8 on Friday’s nine-race program, which offers a first post of 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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