by NYRA Press Office
Peter Bradley said he is excited to see the North American debut of Group 1-placed Cirona in Saturday’s Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, first leg of the Turf Triple series for sophomore fillies at Belmont Park.
Cirona, co-owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds with Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron, Kent Starr, Sara Starr and Gary Finder, was bred in Great Britain and campaigned in France by trainer Christophe Ferland, registering three triumphs led by a prominent victory in the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte on April 18 at Longchamp going one mile.
After missing by a head after setting the pace in the Group 1 Prix Saint Alary on May 24 in her 1 ¼-mile debut, the daughter of Maxios was a close tenth in the Group 1 Prix de Diane on June 20 at Chantilly.
Following the Belmont Oaks, Cirona is scheduled to remain in the United States, where she will race under the tutelage of four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown.
The National Weather Service calls for a 95 percent chance of rain showers the day before the Belmont Oaks, which could result in some give in the ground for Saturday’s race.
“A filly like this is right in Chad’s wheelhouse,” said Bradley. “It doesn’t look like there will be firm going up there. I don’t think some cut in the ground ever hurts with 90 percent of European horses. I don’t see where the turf will be problematic regardless of what it is this week.”
Bradley said Cirona should be able to deliver at ten furlongs, given how well she has performed at the distance in her last two starts. In the 1 5/16-mile Prix de Diane, Cirona was only beaten 3 ¼ lengths.
“When you’re beaten a head over a mile and a quarter, that means she can probably get the distance,” Bradley said. “The race in the Diane probably didn’t set up well for her. While she was tenth, she was only beaten three lengths. She broke her maiden first out over six furlongs. She’s shown a turn of foot, and she can be tactically placed. When she raced over in Europe, she’s been close to or on the lead, but she doesn’t need the lead. In these races, you should be in the first four of five spots if you can.”
Breaking from post 2, Cirona will be ridden by Jose Lezcano.
Bradley went on to express excitement in some possible stakes contenders for the upcoming Saratoga meet, including recent Wild Applause runner-up Minaun who will target the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George on July 23.
The Brown-trained Minaun won her United States debut in April, defeating winners going six furlongs over the Widener turf in her first start since capturing the Group 3 Marble Hill last July at Cork.
“Sometimes with these European horses, especially ones going from two to three, it takes them a while to acclimate,” Bradley said. “We would have liked to point to the Breeders’ Cup last year, but it didn’t happen. Chad is good at making sure that the second half of the 3-year-old year is what gets pointed for.”
Minaun is owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds in partnership with Iris Smith Stable and Rigney Racing.
La Signare, a last out second in the Grade 1 Gamely at Santa Anita on May 31, is probable for the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 17, a race that Bradley previously captured with Dacita in 2016.
Winless in her last seven starts, the French-bred daughter of Siyouni trained by Brendan Walsh seeks her first victory since taking the Sand Springs last March at Gulfstream Park.
“She’s been knocking on the door and hopefully we’ll get past it in this race. She ran huge in the Gamely,” Bradley said.
La Signare, who boasts an 18-3-3-4 record, is owned by Bradley in partnership with Madaket Stables, Tim Cambron and Anna Cambron.
The same partnership, along with Team Hanley, owns recent graded stakes-winner Mintd, who upset Juliet Foxtrot to capture the Grade 3 Old Forester Mint Julep on June 12 at Churchill Downs for trainer Brendan Walsh.
Bradley said the Irish-bred daughter of Olympic Glory is possible for the Grade 2, $400,000 Ballston Spa on August 28.
Bradley and Walsh will also soon team up with Keeper of Time, who could make her North American debut during the Saratoga meet. The sophomore daughter of Mehmas recently defeated subsequent Group 1 winner Joan of Arc in the Group 3 Irish 1000 Guineas Trial on April 11 at Leopardstown.