by Keith McCalmont
Trainer Christophe Clement will send out Olympic Games and Wegetsdamunnys in Sunday's $80,000 River Memories, a 1 1/2-mile turf marathon for older fillies and mares on Closing Day of the spring/summer meet at Belmont Park.
The River Memories is the final stakes event of the 25-day Belmont spring/summer meet with live racing next shifting to historic Saratoga Race Course for a summer meet that will feature 71 stakes worth $14.45 million, encompassing 39 graded stakes and 18 Grade 1s from Thursday, July 16 through Monday, September 7.
Olympic Games, a French-bred daughter of Olympic Glory owned by Martin Schwartz, just missed last out in her North American debut, rallying from last-of-seven to finish second in the nine-furlong Treasure Coast contested on a firm Gulfstream Park turf last month.
The talented bay filly won her first three starts for former trainer Jean-Claude Rouget in her native France. Following off-the-board efforts in the Prix la Sorellina at La Teste de Buch and the Prix Occitanie at Toulouse, Olympic Games closed out her sophomore season in November with a third in the Premio Buontalenta Memorial G. Valiani at Rome.
Clement said Olympic Games should be able to handle the stretch out in distance when trying 12 furlongs for the first time.
"She's never run that far but she is very relaxed in the way she trains," said Clement. "It was a very good race at Gulfstream and as long as she is relaxed in the first part of the race, she should be competitive."
Irad Ortiz, Jr., leading rider at the Belmont spring/summer meet, will be aboard Olympic Games for the first time from post 6.
Scott D. Krase and Peter G. Stokes' Wegetsdamunnys has banked $255,511 in a 19-race career that includes five wins, three seconds and two thirds. The 5-year-old D'Funnybone mare, bred in the Empire State by Wellspring Stables, is looking for her first stakes win having picked up black type previously when second in the 2017 Shesastonecoldfox at Finger Lakes; second, by a nose in the 2018 NYSSS Statue of Liberty at Saratoga; and third in last year's John Hettinger in September at Belmont.
The late-running Wegetsdamunnys arrives at the River Memories from a nose score, under a perfectly-timed ride by Junior Alvarado, in a nine-furlong optional-claiming tilt held June 12 at Belmont.
Clement said he will entrust Alvarado to again time the filly's patented late charge as she breaks from post 9.
"No matter what, short or long, she always seems to run the same way," said Clement. "She is always out of it and relaxed and comes with a good kick. Junior knows the filly well and won on her the last time. It's an exciting spot."
Trainer Tom Albertrani also carries a strong one-two punch with Woodslane Farm's Dyna Passer and Mark T. Anderson's Beau Belle.
Dyna Passer, a 4-year-old Lemon Drop Kid chestnut, boasts a record of 11-2-1-4 with purse earnings of $218,410. She graduated in May 2019 in a 1 3/8-mile maiden turf event ahead of a good fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.
Dyna Passer earned black type and a career-best 85 Beyer Speed Figure when third in the Jockey Club Oaks Invitational in September at Belmont and completed her 3-year-old campaign with a fifth in the Grade 2 Sands Point.
Last out, Dyna Passer earned a half-length score in an optional-claiming tilt on March 22 when traveling 12 furlongs on the Gulfstream green.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will guide Dyna Passer from the inside post .
Beau Belle, a 5-year-old Giant's Causeway chestnut, made her long overdue graduation last summer at Saratoga in a 1 3/16-mile maiden held on a yielding turf. She followed up with an allowance score at the same distance in August on a yielding turf ahead of a good fifth in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational in October at Belmont.
Off-the-board in two starts this season, Beau Belle was a game fourth last out in the June 12 optional-claiming event won by River Memories rival Wegetsdamunnys at Belmont.
Luis Saez, aboard for the good run of form at Saratoga last summer, has the call from post 3.
Allen Stable's Civil Union, a 5-year-old War Front mare, prevailed by a neck last out while garnering a career-best 83 Beyer in a 1 1/4-mile turf allowance at Belmont.
Previously conditioned by Chad Brown, Civil Union was transferred to the care of Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for her 2020 campaign. The lightly-raced bay won on debut at Saratoga in August 2018 and was second in a Keeneland allowance to close out her juvenile season. She made just one sophomore start finishing fourth in a turf allowance at the Big A before finishing third on debut for McGaughey at Gulfstream in January.
Civil Union will emerge from post 7 under returning rider Jose Ortiz.
Rounding out the field are Beale Street [post 2, Jorge Vargas, Jr.], Lemon Zip [post 4, Tyler Conner], Pallas Athene [post 5, Jose Lezcano], Red Curls [post 8, Reylu Gutierrez], Seeking Revenge [post 10, Dylan Davis], and Tass [post 11, Kendrick Carmouche].
Sunday's Closing Day card at Belmont Park will feature a mandatory payout of the Empire 6, which boasted a jackpot of $400,040 heading into Thursday. The Empire 6 will kick off in Race 4 at 2:09 p.m. Eastern.
The Closing Day card will also feature mandatory payouts for both the Early Pick 5 and Late Pick 5 wagers.
Slated as Race 8 on Sunday's 9-race card, which offers a first post of 12:30 p.m. Eastern, the River Memories will feature on America's Day at the Races, produced by NYRA in partnership with FOX Sports, and airing live on Fox Sports and MSG+. Free Equibase-provided past performances are available for races that are part of the America's Day at the Races broadcast and can be accessed at https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
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