Deep Field of 13 Clashes in Soaring Softly




A tough-to-separate baker's dozen of 3-year-old turf fillies will face off in Saturday's seven-furlong GIII Soaring Softly S. at Belmont, with many promising runners looking poised to jump into the division's upper echelon.

Three horses, each from powerhouse barns, figure to vie for favoritism, and Chad Brown's Haughty (Empire Maker) was given the slight nod on the morning line at 5-2. Disqualified out of an impressive, 3 1/4-length first-out score debuting over a mile on the local turf Sept. 17, the $310,000 OBS April buy had no problem breaking her maiden for real by four lengths next out at Keeneland and overcame a wide post to finish a close third when last seen in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf Nov. 5 at Del Mar.

Waterville Lake Stables' New York-bred Derrynane (Quality Road) looms a big chance. A heavily-bet debut victress last July at Saratoga, the homebred annexed the Woodbine Cares S. two starts later Sept. 19 before running a sneaky-good, late-closing fourth against males in the GII Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint. Returning in the Limestone S. Apr. 15 at Keeneland, the bay was flying late and just missed by a neck to wire-to-wire Wesley Ward runner Ruthin (GB) (Ribchester {Ire}). The Soaring Softly will be Derrynane's first try beyond 5 1/2 furlongs.

Ward will send out third choice Chardy Party (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) for Stonestreet Stables. Making her belated bow as a 9-5 favorite against 11 rivals Apr. 27 at Keeneland, the gray broke a bit slowly from the rail before uncorking a monster closing kick despite racing greenly, rallying from 10 lengths back in the final three-sixteenths to get up by an improbable half-length.

Other intriguing runners include Breeze Easy (GB) (Bated Breath {GB}), who makes her 3-year-old and North American debut for Christophe Clement after placing in multiple stakes in Great Britain last fall, Sail By (Astern {Aus}), who returns to the site of her 12-1 GII Miss Grillo S. upset in October, and Ouraika (Fr) (Zelzal {Fr}), who Graham Motion shipped west to capture the GIII Sweet Life S. two back at Santa Anita Feb. 12.

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