Merry Meadow back for more in G3 Bed o' Roses
By Jon Forbes | 06/18/2014 06:40 PM ET
Merry Meadow will attempt to sweep both Belmont Park spring meet graded stakes for filly and mare sprinters when she heads a field of 11 entered in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o' Roses Handicap on Saturday.
The seven-furlong Bed o' Roses was carded as race 9 on the 10-race card with a scheduled post time of 5:28 p.m. The $100,000 Wild Applause for 3-year-old fillies on the turf will precede the Bed o' Roses as race 7.
This year, Merry Meadow has won an optional claiming race in February at Aqueduct, finished fourth in the Grade 2, seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie Handicap in February at Laurel Park, and posted a 6-1 upset when taking the Grade 3, 6 ½-furlong Vagrancy Handicap by 3 ¾ lengths over three opponents on May 17 at Belmont.
"I wish she had two more weeks [between the Vagrancy and the Bed o' Roses] because I think more time does her better, but she's fresh and she came out of [the Vagrancy] exceptionally well," said trainer Mark Hennig.
Merry Meadow needed 11 starts to break her maiden, and was even dangled once for a $65,000 claiming price. The 4-year-old William Parsons, Jr. and David Howe homebred, however, no longer struggles to find the winner's circle, however, as she has gone 4-3-1 in nine starts since picking up that elusive first victory.
"It took her a long time to break her maiden, but halfway through her 3-year-old year she just blossomed," said Hennig. "She seemed to gain confidence once she won a race, and then she won again. She took it to heart and improved off each win. She physically changed; she filled out and finished growing up. I think it was a physical issue and a mental issue, getting over the hump. The more she's run, the more she has learned to settle."
The Bed o' Roses will be Merry Meadow's third start at seven furlongs, having broken her maiden and finished second in the restricted Dream Rush stakes before her third-place finish in the Barbara Fritchie.
Rajiv Maragh will ride Merry Meadow, the 4-1 second choice on the morning line, from post position 8.
Also emerging from the Vagrancy is Summerwind Farms and Half Hollow Racing's Five Star Momma, who was third, beaten nine lengths. Five Star Momma, a 5-year-old, is a two-time stakes winner, having won last year's Lady in Waiting at Penn National and the restricted Chip at Aqueduct.
Since posting consecutive wins in the Chip and the Lady in Waiting, Five Star Momma has finished second or third in four straight starts, all in stakes. She was second in both the Willa on the Move in December at Laurel and in the Grade 3 Hurricane Bertie in February at Gulfstream, and third in Gulfstream's Grade 2 Inside Information in March prior to the Vagrancy.
"We've tried to be very careful placing her," said trainer Jena Antonucci. "Obviously, she has done nothing but great things for us. She's earned that opportunity to win a graded race, so that's our focus to try to get that done."
Five Star Momma, 5-1, drew post position 2. Javier Castellano has the call.
Another multiple stakes winner who is seeking her first graded stakes victory is Lion D N A, winner of the Skipat on May 16 at Pimlico in her most recent start.
Lion D N A was claimed for $35,000 in August 2013 by trainer Rudy Rodriguez and owners Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables, and Gary Aisquith. Since then, she has gone 4-3-0 in nine starts, including three stakes wins.
Earlier this year, she won the Interborough and the Correction before finishing fifth in both a starter allowance and the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap, all at Aqueduct. She regained winning form last time out with a three-quarter length win in the Skipat.
Manuel Franco will ride Lion D N A, 6-1, for the first time. Lion D N A drew post 11.
James Arrison's Flattering Bea will attempt to reverse the form of the Skipat, having set the pace before yielding late when second to Lion D N A. She won the Sugar Maple, a seven-furlong race around two turns at Charles Town on April 19, by a neck in her previous start. The Bed o' Roses will be the first race in New York for Flattering Bea, who is trained in Maryland by Crystal Pickett.
Gary Cruise will come in to ride Flattering Bea, who drew post 3 and was installed at 10-1 on the morning line.
The 7-2 morning-line favorite is Street Girl, who seeks the third win of her career and first in a graded stakes. Street Girl, who won the 2013 Calder Oaks, made a mild late rally to finish second by 4 ½ lengths in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff on May 3 at Churchill Downs.
Street Girl, who is trained by Eddie Kenneally for Thomas Berry, will leave from post 10 with Jose Lezcano aboard.
Classic Point, trained by Hall of Famer H. Allen Jerkens for Joseph Shields, Jr., will return off short rest after finishing last of six in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 7 at Belmont. She set the pace in the Ogden Phipps, her first start beyond seven furlongs in more than a year, before tiring and finishing 15 lengths behind the winner, Close Hatches. The 5-year-old - who has placed in two stakes, including the 2013 Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap at Saratoga - took a seven-furlong optional claimer by 5 ¼ lengths in April at Gulfstream Park.
The field also includes Table Three Ten, Ultimate Shopper, Hot Stones, Ode to Sami, and Calistoga.
The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o' Roses: