Moonlit Promise was making her first start of the season when she won last year’s Sweet Briar Too and went on to a perfect campaign with wins in the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion and Grade 2 Bessarabian.
The horse and race are the same but the scenario is different as Moonlit Promise seeks a second consecutive Sweet Briar Too on Woodbine Racetrack on Saturday, but will be making the seventh start of a campaign which has yet to yield a victory.
The $100,000 Sweet Briar Too, a 6 ½ furlong overnight stakes for fillies and mares, attracted a field of eight.
“We’re a little disappointed,” said Josie Carroll, who conditions the Kentucky-bred for Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings Inc. and Windsor Boys Racing.
“I think she’s been a little off form this year, but she’s been training well and we’re hoping she’ll come back around.”
Moonlit Promise has turned in some solid efforts, with a close second-place finish in the Grade 3 Whimsical and a third in the Grade 3 Hendrie.
But the five-year-old has been not so effective in her last couple, although she did encounter traffic problems last time out after breaking from the rail when making her most recent appearance in the Grade 3 Seaway at seven furlongs.
Moonlit Promise, who drew the inside post again, will be adding blinkers and a new rider in Eurico Rosa da Silva.
“She seems to have lost a little focus this year,” said Carroll. “You’re hoping the blinkers make the difference.”
Trainer Mike De Paulo has two in the Sweet Briar Too but the chances are that only one will start as Code Warrior is cross-entered in Monday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Presque Isle Masters over the same 6 ½ furlong distance on a Tapeta surface.
As of Thursday morning, De Paulo said the Pennsylvania stakes was more probable for Code Warrior, a five-year-old owned by Zilli Racing Stables who has won the Hendrie and the Seaway in her last two starts here on the Tapeta.
That would leave Sister Nation, a four-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Mark Dodson, to carry the mail for the De Paulo outfit.
Sister Nation, who defeated fellow sophomores to become a stakes winner here in last fall’s Ruling Angel at 6 ½ furlongs on the Tapeta, finished ninth in the Seaway last time out following close-up fifth-place finishes at 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 3 Trillium and Grade 3 Ontario Matron.
“Her last race, the jock thought maybe he had her a little too close,” said De Paulo. “He moved her up on the outside, and she didn’t finish as well as we’d like. Her other races this year were all pretty good.
“She’s a lovely filly, who we’re trying to win a graded stake with. We’re hoping to get lucky.”
Gary Boulanger gets the call on Sister Nation for the first time since he guided her to her maiden win here June 17, 2017.
Trainer Mark Casse also will field a pair in the four-year-olds Malibu Bonnie and Victory to Victory.
Malibu Bonnie, a decent third in the Seaway, will be seeking her first stakes win.
Victory to Victory became a Grade 1 winner here as a two-year-old in the Natalma Stakes over one mile of turf.
The Florida-bred is coming off an eighth-place finish here in the Grade 2 Royal North at six furlongs on the grass and would be making her first start on a synthetic surface here.
Here is a complete look at the field for the Sweet Briar Too Stakes in post position order:
$100,000 Sweet Briar Too Stakes
1/Moonlit Promise/Eurico Rosa da Silva/Josie Carroll
2/Code Warrior/Jesse Campbell/Mike De Paulo
3/Silent Sonet /Luis Contreras/Nick Gonzalez
4/Malibu Bonnie/Jerome Lermyte/Mark Casse
5/Answer My Call/Ademar Santos/Ryan Walsh
6/Just Be Kind/Emma-Jayne Wilson/Reade Baker
7/Sister Nation/Gary Boulanger/Mike De Paulo
8/Victory to Victory/Rafael Hernandez/Mark Casse