News and STORIES
Uni, Newspaperofrecord Face Off in Just a Game
Author: Don Mckee
Published: Thursday June 25, 2020
Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown is set to send out three of the seven entrants on Saturday in the $250,000 Just a Game Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park. The race for fillies and mares will have many impressive runners in the field.
Brown is looking for his fourth consecutive Just a Game win with his top two entrants Uni and Newspaperofrecord. Uni is the 2019 female turf champion and TVG Breeders' Cup Mile (G1T) winner, while Newspaperofrecord took the 2018 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T).
The one-turn mile Just a Game became the target for Newspaperofrecord and Uni after Brown pointed 2017 Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Rushing Fall to the July 11 Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland and Sistercharlie, the 2018 female turf champion, to the July 25 Ballston Spa Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course.
The two impressive horses are coming into the event with different objectives. The Just a Game will be Uni's first start since beating males in the Nov 2 Mile. The 6-year-old daughter of More Than Ready had a rough winter with a minor splint injury, but she has been training well. According to Brown, she is ready to kick off her 2020 campaign.
Uni is owned by Robert LaPenta, Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners, and Bethlehem Stables.
"She's training well. The one thing she has going against her is the layoff," Brown said. "But she's an incredibly talented horse with a devastating turn of foot. I expect her to run very well, and she's the class of the field. She's certainly the most accomplished. She's run well off layoffs before in the past, and I feel she's sitting on a nice effort despite the layoff."
Uni began her 2019 campaign with a victory in the June 29 Perfect Sting Stakes. She went on to finish third to Just a Game starter Got Stormy when she went up against males in the Fourstardave Handicap (G1T) at Saratoga. The mare closed out her year by winning the First Lady Stakes Presented by UK Healthcare (G1T) and the Mile.
"It's not like I'm getting her ready for the Breeders' Cup Mile off a layoff. It's a very competitive race, but it's not going to be the toughest race she will run in all year," Brown said. "If anything, it might be the least toughest of all the big engagements she will have this year. We're thankful that if she ever has to come in at 80 or 90% ready, this is the one to do it in."
Klaravich Stables' Newspaperofrecord is a 4-year-old daughter of Lope de Vega. She had an undefeated 2-year-old season but couldn't make it to top form in 2019.
The filly finished second in her first two starts at 3 and then stretched out to 1 1/4 miles for the July 6 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T). In that event, she finished back in ninth and last as the 8-5 favorite.
After taking the rest of the year off, she came back strong in her 2020 debut. Newspaperofrecord had early speed and won by four lengths in the seven-furlong Intercontinental Stakes (G3T) on yielding turf June 6.
"She went a little faster on the front end (a :45.38 half-mile) than I wanted," Brown said. "She was so relaxed going into the race, and I was worried going that fast might blow her head up again, but she's worked nicely since then, and I think she'll be able to rate slower this time."
Brown will also send out Regal Glory, and others in the field will include Got Stormy, Zofelle, Beau Recall, and Valedictorian.