Saturday, May 26, 2012
CONTESTED HEADS FIELD OF SIX FOR ACORN
ELMONT, N.Y. – Contested will head a field of six sophomore fillies trying for Grade 1 glory Monday afternoon at Belmont Park in the 82nd running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Acorn.
The Acorn will be run as race 9 on the 11-race holiday card, which also features the Grade 1, $400,000 Ogden Phipps Handicap for fillies and mares, the Grade 2 $200,000 Sands Point for 3-year-old turf fillies, and the highlight of the afternoon, the Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap. Together, they comprise a $500,000 Guaranteed All Graded Stakes Pick 4, beginning with the Sands Point in race 7.
A 3-year-old daughter of Ghostzapper, Contested has won her last three races by a combined margin of 17 lengths, stepping up gradually in distance from a Santa Anita maiden victory at six furlongs in October to an allowance win going 6 ½ furlongs in April and to her first stakes score in the seven-furlong Eight Belles at Churchill Downs on May 4. The Acorn is contested at a mile around one turn.
“She handled seven-eighths, so she should be able to handle a mile,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to the filly’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert. “She’s doing well. She’s came in on Thursday [May 17], galloped three or four days and then we breezed her five days out from the race. She had a nice work over the racetrack [five furlongs in 1:00.05 on Wednesday] and we’re ready to run. We’ve dealt with a lot of rain, but with her schedule we were able to miss most of it. On her work day the track was a little demanding, wet, but we got our work in.”
Owned by Natalie Baffert, Contested will have a new jockey for the Acorn, picking up the services of Javier Castellano, who rode the Baffert-trained Gabby’s Golden Gal to victory in the 2009 edition of the Acorn. Contested drew the rail for Monday’s race and was installed as the 7-5 morning-line favorite.
Contested has been on or near the lead in all four of her career starts and on Monday she figures to have company from another front-runner, James C. Spence’s Aubby K. The Street Sense filly aired by 15 ½ lengths breaking her maiden on September 10 at Belmont, then was fourth, beaten less than three lengths in the one-mile, Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill to close out her 2-year-old season. She returned to take a 6 ½-furlong optional claimer at Gulfstream Park by 9 ¾ lengths, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.
Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will ride for trainer Ralph Nicks from post position 6 at 3-1 on the morning line.
Tom Albertrani will saddle another lightly raced, but promising, filly in Zo Impressive. Owned by Live Oak Plantation, Zo Impressive was an easy winner of her first two starts this winter at Gulfstream, taking a January 22 maiden race by 6 ¼ lengths en route to a 4 ½ length optional claiming victory a month later. In her graded stakes debut, the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks, she was second to Grade 1 winner Grace Hall.
“She was bumped at the start in her last race, and that’s what caused all the traffic,” said trainer Tom Albertrani. “Yara came over on her and kind of caused some crowding into the first turn, pinched her back. But after that, she found her way around there and finished up well. It’s a straight mile and she’s won at a straight mile.”
Rajiv Maragh has the return call aboard the Hard Spun filly from post position 4 at 5-1 on the morning line.
Both On Fire Baby and Sacristy exit the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, where they finished fifth and seventh, respectively. On Fire Baby won the Grade 3 Honeybee at Oaklawn Park earlier this spring and was a two-time graded stakes winner as a juvenile, taking both the Pocahontas and Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill last fall. Sacristy won Gulfstream’s Grade 3 Old Hat on New Year’s Day and hit the board in both the Grade 2 Forward Gal and Keeneland’s Grade 2 Beaumont.
On Fire Baby (5-2 ML) has the services of regular rider Joe Johnson from post position 3, while Sacristy (15-1 ML) will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik from post 5.
Hard Mystery, easy winner of Belmont’s Inside Information overnight stakes on April 28, completes the field.
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