‘Long Distance’ Setting The Mood Taking A Step Up Into Belmont Oaks

Paul Pompa Jr.’s Setting the Mood will make a steep step up in class when she takes on stakes action for the first time in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Oaks.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Setting the Mood arrives at her stakes debut off a second place finish in a Saratoga allowance event going 1 3/8 miles over the inner turf, where she was brushed coming out of the gate, controlled the pace throughout most of the journey but was a head short of victory to Cap de Creus. The sophomore daughter of second-crop stallion Lea displayed stalking tactics in her prior effort going 1 ¼ miles at Belmont Park, sitting third before taking command in the stretch, but was passed by Hungry Kitten.

Still in search of her first triumph on grass, Setting the Mood broke her maiden in an off-the-turf event at Gulfstream Park in May.

“She’s definitely a long distance filly,” Pompa, Jr. said. “She ran well in her last start. It’s a short field, so it made sense for Todd to put her in there. We’ll see how much talent she has.”

Setting the Mood will be squaring off against recent Saratoga Oaks-winner Antionette as well as Group 1-placed European invader Magic Attitude.

“There is a first time European in there, but it’s a short field,” Pompa, Jr. said. “Todd and I talked about it and sometimes you just have to take a shot. If she hits the board, she has a Grade 1 placing on her resume. If she gets lucky, she wins the whole thing.”

Setting the Mood will break from the rail under jockey Luis Saez, who will attempt to replicate his winning form from Saratoga, where he rode nine stakes winners and finished fourth in the standings with 45 wins.

“She had the rail the last time and she got bottled up, so we’ll have to be a little more aggressive,” said Pompa, Jr. “He’s a top rider and a good human being. He always does well on my horses.

Last Saturday, Pompa, Jr.’s multiple graded stakes winner Regal Glory added another high level stakes win to her ledger when taking the Grade 1 Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf on September 16. The Chad Brown-trained daughter of Animal Kingdom notched her first victory since dead-heating with Varenka in last year’s Grade 2 Lake Placid at Saratoga.

While Regal Glory successfully scored another stakes win, Turned Aside was fifth as the beaten favorite in the Grade 3 Franklin-Simpson on September 16 at Kentucky Downs.

“Regal Glory can run on anything and she’s a classy filly,” Pompa, Jr said. “Turned Aside didn’t like the track at all. Going downhill, he was out of his element and he still only lost by 2 ½ lengths. When you go to Kentucky Downs, some horses love it and other don’t like it. He was the favorite and the second and third choices ran at the back.”

Pompa, Jr. said he would regroup with trainer Linda Rice regarding a next start for Turned Aside, who won the Grade 3 Quick Call at Saratoga in his previous start.

“We’ll see how he comes it and we’ll speak to Linda and pick a spot for him,” Pompa, Jr. said. “One thing is that if he comes out it well, he probably gained a lot of fitness going up and down those hills.”

The post ‘Long Distance’ Setting The Mood Taking A Step Up Into Belmont Oaks appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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