McKulick has posted victories in Grade 1, 2, and 3 stakes, has finished in the top 3 in 10 of 11 career starts, and is now seeking her first two-race winning streak.
Hard to believe the 4-year-old filly trained by Chad Brown has yet to put together two straight wins, but the $500,000 Flower Bowl (G2) at Saratoga on Saturday offers a golden opportunity with just three rivals to beat.
McKulick, the 4-5 favorite, comes into the 1 3/8-mile Flower Bowl off a determined neck win in the 1 ½-mile Glens Falls (G2) on Aug. 3. She will be challenged by Amazing Grace (7-5) and Parnac (6-1) — both trained by Christophe Clement — and Tamarama (6-1).
“I’ve been really happy with her training, and we penciled this in right after that race (the Glens Falls),’’ Brown, looking for a record-extending eighth win in the Flower Bowl, said. “She seems to run well at Saratoga.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr., the nation’s top rider and about to claim his fifth Saratoga riding title, has the call aboard McKulick.
The Flower Bowl is a fees-paid “Win and You’re In” race to the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita in November.
“She’s come around and was a little slow to come into form this year, but now I think she’s doing better than ever,” Brown said. “She needed a little more fitness and such, and this time of year, she’s at her best physically. She’s carrying the most weight I’ve seen her carry and she’s really loving the summer. I think it’s leading to her success.”
Clement has two chances to win. Amazing Grace, bred in Germany, raced in Europe until winning the Orchid (G3) at Gulfstream Park in April. The 5-year-old mare was fourth in a pair of Grade 2s at Belmont, the Sheepshead Bay and the Belmont Gold Cup Oaks, and finished third in the Glens Falls.
Cutting back from 1 ½ miles to 1 3/8 miles on Saturday could be a big help, according to Miguel Clement, son and assistant to Christophe Clement.
“She’s an honest, hard-knocking filly and I believe if anything she’s really hitting her best stride at the moment, so we’re expecting a better performance,” Clement said. “She’ll like the cutback here and she looked like a winner at the top of the stretch in the (Belmont) Gold Cup, but she didn’t get the distance.”
Post time for the Flower Bowl is 1:48 p.m. ET
The picks: 1 McKulick 2 Amazing Grace 3 Parnac
The field for the $500,000 Flower Bowl (G2), from the rail out, with jockey, trainer, odds:
1. Parnac (Dylan Davis, Christophe Clement), 6-1
2, McKulick (Irad Ortiz, Jr., Chad Brown), 4-5
3. Tamarama (Javier Castellano, Jack Sisterson), 6-1
4. Amazing Grace (Joel Rosario, Christophe Clement), 7-5
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.