Halina’s Forte and Mystic Lake have both been tabbed at 5-2 on the morning line behind 6-5 program favorite Emery in the Grade 3 Victory Ride for 3-year-old fillies Thursday at the Belmont at Big A meet. The two Florida-breds will be among five set to go six-and-a-half furlongs in pursuit of the winner’s share of the $175,000 purse.

Mystic Lake tries for her second consecutive Grade 3 victory having won the six-furlong Miss Preakness by four-and-a-half lengths at Pimlico in her last race on May 17.

Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. for C2 Racing Stable LLC and Stefania Farms LLC, Mystic Lake has won three of her five starts this year, all in stakes. In addition to the Miss Preakness, she has a three-quarter-length score in the $75,000 Gasparilla going on Jan. 13 and a three-and-half-length victory in the $100,000 Stonehedge Farm South Sophomore Fillies on March 24, both going seven furlongs at Tampa Bay Downs.

Her only losses this year came when fifth in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride won by Pounce going a mile on the turf at Gulfstream in March and in the $128,000 Star Shoot won by Florida-bred Sabatini over the synthetic main track at Woodbine on April 27.

Mystic Lake is by Mo Town out of Salty Soul, by Itsmyluckyday and has won four of nine career starts with two seconds. 

Bred in Florida by Peggy Costanzo, Mystic Lake is a two-time graduate of Ocala Breeders’ Sales having first sold at the 2022 October Yearling Sale for $3,500 out of the Summerfield consignment. She was purchased by Tom McCrocklin as an agent, who then consigned her to the 2023 OBS March Sale where Turf Express Racing Partners selected her for $130,000. She did not meet her reserve in the recent Fasig-Tipton May Digital Sale on a final bid of $370,000.

An earner of $291,554 in her career, Mystic Lake will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post one.

Halina’s Forte, a winner of a second condition, $125,000 optional claiming by two lengths going seven furlongs at Churchill in her last race on May 31, is undefeated with one stakes victory at Aqueduct. The Philip Bauer-trained daughter of Mitole won the $100,000 Ruthless over a good seven furlongs there on Feb. 17. In two other starts this year, Halina’s Forte was eighth in the Grade 1 Ashland won by Leslie’s Rose at Keeneland on April 5 and fourth behind winner My Mane Squeeze in the Grade 2 Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on May 3.

Halina’s Forte is out of Lunarlady, by Yes It’s True and was bred in Florida by Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt and Francis and Barbara Vanlangendonck. The Vanlanendonck’s sold her through their Summerfield consignment for $130,000 at last year’s OBS October Sale where she was purchased by Woodford Thoroughbreds. Woodford then consigned her to last year’s Fasig-Tipton July Sale where Chenowith Run Stables bought her for $250,000.

She has since earned $228,370 from three wins in seven career starts with two seconds.

Bauer will give the leg up on Halina’s Forte to Jose Ortiz and they will break from post four.

Emery has won three of four career starts with earnings of $256,298 for owner Stonestreet Stables LLC.

Trained by Brad Cox, Emery is two-for-two this year including a three-and-a-half-length victory in the $170,000 Leslie’s Lady going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs on June 9. She also won a first condition, $100,000 optional claiming by five-and-a-quarter lengths going six furlongs at Keeneland on April 19.

Emery is by More Than Ready out of Athena, by Street Sense and will be ridden from post three by Tyler Gaffalione.

Golden Degree and jockey Jose Lezcano and Autumn Evening with Manny Franco aboard complete the field. 

Return to the July 3 issue of Wire to Wire