Fozzy Stack: 'Aspen Grove Has Nothing To Lose In Belmont Oaks'

Aspen Grove: has big claims in the Belmont Oaks |


Fozzy Stack says that Aspen Grove (Ire) is something of a forgotten horse heading into the GI Belmont Oaks Invitational S. and revealed that there were genuine excuses for her below-par effort in the Irish 1,000 Guineas when the Justify filly was found to be in season. 

Aspen Grove carried Craig Bernick's distinctive silks to victory in a Group 3 contest at the Curragh last term and, with that valuable black-type success already secured, Stack felt connections could afford to be brave in travelling her over for Saturday's Grade I assignment. 

Stack said of the filly who is co-owned by Mrs. John Magnier, “She was in season when she ran in the Irish 1,000 Guineas so there was very much a plausible excuse for that effort. There's only one Guineas, she couldn't run in it next year, so that's why we took our chance. 

“Listen, she's travelled over well and she seems to have settled in nicely. Mark Enright is over here with her and he is happy with her so we'll see what happens.”

He added, “She has good form. She ran very well on her reappearance at Leopardstown when third in a Group 3 despite being caught wide the whole way round. 

“You could run around in Group 3s at home in Ireland for forty grand or you can come over here for a lot of money. She's already a Group 3 winner so she's nothing to lose and it all to gain.”

Aspen Grove is a general 8-1 chance with most firms for the Belmont Oaks and will have the assistance of Oisin Murphy in the saddle. 

Murphy's primary reason for jetting out Stateside is to ride Andrew Balding's The Foxes (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) in the Belmont Derby and Stack said that it would have been “silly” not to snap up a rider of his quality for Aspen Grove. 

He said, “It made a lot of sense to get Oisin to ride the filly. He's coming over to ride The Foxes for Andrew Balding anyway so it would have been silly not to use him while he's here.”

Stack has enjoyed a good start to his domestic campaign in Ireland and is operating at a 17 per cent strike-rate with 11 winners under his belt. 

Indeed, he has already tasted big-race success on American soil when Yesterdayoncemore (Ire) (No Nay Never) won a Grade II at Del Mar in 2019.

Like Yesterdayoncemore, Stack says that Aspen Grove could well continue her career in America for Bernick, who he describes as an important supporter of his famous County Tipperary stable.

Stack said, “We'll get this over with first, but we will probably run her at Saratoga or at Del Mar after this. I'm very lucky to have Craig as an owner. He's a very nice guy and has a great interest in the game. He actually bred Aspen Grove.”

On the race itself, he added, “Graham Motion's filly [Mission Of Joy (Kitten's Joy)] sets a good standard and Chad Brown has a couple of nice fillies [Aspray (Quality Road) and Prerequisite (Upstart)] in there as well. 

“There are no easy Group 1 races wherever you go but they are usually not as difficult to win on the grass in America than they are in Europe so hopefully she can go close.”

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