The big turf race at Belmont Park this Saturday is the 1m Grade 1 Just A Game Stakes for older fillies and mare (23:08), and Newspaperofrecord appeals most.
Trained by Chad Brown, this four-year-old daughter of prolific sire Lope De Vega was a precocious juvenile talent. Newspaperofrecord won all three starts in 2018, progressing from maiden to Grade 1 glory at the Breeders’ Cup.
As she scored by over six lengths on each again, she was a leading Belmont Oaks contender for last season. However, all did not go to plan when a beaten favorite in each of her three outings in 2019.
Newpaperofrecord didn’t stay in races over further than an extended mile. Brown, who has won the Just A Game Stakes in each of the last three years with different fillies, has kept faith with her, though.
Following a 336-day break, Newpaperofrecord resumed winning ways with a four-length success over 7f in the Grade 3 Intercontinental Stakes at this track earlier in the month.
She ran out an easy four-length winner dropped back in trip. Newpaperofrecord is bred for a mile, though. Off joint-bottom weight, race terms are in her favour and she can follow-up on her recent success.
Brown has three of the seven runners, so Uni is feared most. This experienced six-year-old has won three of her four starts at Belmont Park since coming over from France.
With 10 victories from 18 career outings, Uni is a consistent mare who ended last season bang in-form. She reversed Saratoga form with the re-opposing Got Stormy in the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
As they pair meet again off the same terms, Uni should confirm placings. She loves the track and firm ground, and also has three Grade 1 wins from her last four starts at the highest level.
This daughter of More Than Ready is a miler through and through. There is lots to like about her chances in the Just A Game Stakes, then, except for race terms.
Uni carries joint topweight here, and it puts her at a disadvantage. Newpaperofrecord gets 6lb from her stable companion, and that tips things in her favor.
As Uni also doesn’t have the same scope for further progress, she can be taken on to win. Her claims of placing or showing are obvious, though.
The aforementioned Got Stormy is another Grade 1 winner in this field, so cannot be discounted either.
Trained by Mark Casse, the five-year-old bumped into old rival Rushing Fall on her return to action after spring break. Got Stormy is expected to come on for that in the Just A Game Stakes, however.
She won four of her eight starts last year, ending the campaign on a high when finding plenty for pressure and landing the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar by three-quarters of a length.
Luis Saez takes the rider on Got Stormy for the first time, and that is interesting. Although Got Stormy hasn’t won any of her three starts in 2023, she has achieved more than the remainder.
Shouldering topweight here is no easy task with a filly like Newpaperofrecord against her, though. Got Stormy does have a bit to find with Uni off equal terms too.
Despite race terms being against her, on the pick of her form she should make the frame. That is why Got Stormy completes our Just A Game Stakes shortlist.