ELMONT, N.Y. -- By the Moon signaled she'll be a key player in the East Coast filly and mare sprint division this year with a decisive 1-3/4-length win in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses at Belmont Park on Saturday.
The Bed o' Roses was By the Moon's first graded win since the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont Park in the fall of 2014. Last year at 3, she won once from five starts for trainer Michelle Nevin but put in several other strong efforts. She was run down in deep stretch in the Grade 1 Acorn and beaten a neck by a blossoming Curalina. She also finished third to Cavorting in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga.
"She a hard-working girl, that's for sure," Nevin said. "And she's come back this year in great form."
By the Moon was given a clever ride from post 1 by Jose Ortiz, who bided his time in the seven-furlong race as things got more and more crowded on the lead in front of him. West Coast Chick set the early pace inside of Mayla. They were joined from the outside on the far turn by Bar of Gold, and then by even-money favorite Wavell Avenue, who moved up four wide.
The early fractions were modest, 23.26 seconds for the quarter-mile and 46.10 for the half-mile.
At the quarter pole, the leaders were spread out four across the track with Ortiz and By the Moon sitting behind them. When a hole opened, By the Moon split horses and drew clear. Wavell Avenue, trained by Chad Brown, bested the three horses inside of her to be second, three-quarters of a length in front of Bar of Gold.
"It was a tough setup for her," Brown said. "There was no pace, she was wide, and she was giving a lot of weight away today."
By the Moon paid $6.40 as the second choice in the six-horse field. She had the lead through six furlongs in 1:09.64 and was timed in 1:21.98.
Mayla finished fourth, a half-length behind Bar of Gold, Pangburn, who was racing in foal, was fifth, and West Coast Chick tired to finish last.
The Bed o' Roses was by the Moon's second start of the year. She finished fourth in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap at Aqueduct in mid-April. The winner of that race, Paulassilverlining, came back to win the Grade 3 Vagrancy. The runner-up, Cavorting, has since won the Grade 2 Ruffian and the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.
"It's always tough off the bench in a stakes but we didn't have too many options," Nevin said. "It was good to get a race under her."
Nevin is now in the enviable position of having two of the top filly and mare sprinters in the region as she also is the trainer of Paulassilverlining.
The top race for the division at Saratoga is the Grade 1, $500,000 Ballerina at seven furlongs on Aug. 27.
There are two races that precede the Ballerina, the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss at six furlongs on July 27, the $100,000 Shine Again at seven furlongs on Aug. 3.
Nevin said both fillies would be pointed to races at Saratoga but wanted to keep her options open as to which filly would run where.
"This filly can go a little further," Nevin said of By the Moon.
By the Moon, a daughter of Indian Charlie, is now 4 for 11 with earnings of $790,440.