James L. Osborne's Island Sand rallied in the stretch under jockey Terry Thompson to win Friday's $250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park by 1 3/4 lengths.
A 3-year-old daughter of Tabasco Cat--Sue's Last Dance (by Forty Niner) trained by Larry J. Jones, Island Sand completed the one-turn mile in 1:34 4/5 as she paid $10.00, $3.60, and $2.90.
The win was the first for Jones at Belmont in a 22-year career. He got it with a filly acquired through a private purchase over the winter.
``This is my biggest win, absolutely,'' Jones said. ``Where better to get it than in New York?''
Thompson rode for the first time at Belmont.
Favored Society Selection, trapped on the inside toward the back of the eight-horse field into the turn, made a belated rally under Jorge Chavez to nip Friendly Michelle by a nose for second.
Bohemian Lady jumped out to the early lead, setting fractions of :23 2/5, :45, and 1:09 4/5 while being stalked by Friendly Michelle and La Reina. Friendly Michelle took over in upper stretch and continued to lead while racing on the rail until being overtaken by the winner late. The final margin was 1 3/4 lengths, with second-place finisher Society Selection, the 2-1 choice, paying $3.50 and $2.60. Friendly Michelle paid $4.30.
Island Sand was outrun early but advanced between horses for the drive, finishing wide on the track while drawing clear.
"I knew there were like four or five out there cooking," Thompson said. "In the turn I went ahead and swung down because it was a short field, (I) was able to get inside of two horses and ease on out at the top of the stretch. It was just the perfect trip."
Jones was concerned about how Island Sand would handle the one-turn mile, but was hoping for a strong enough performance to warrant a start in the $300,000 Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont on June 26.
"This worked out really well," Jones said "She wasn't all that far back and this race was loaded with speed. I was hoping that someone would be out there running. I'm not really used to this track, so I didn't know if :23 2/5 and 45 4/5 was quick enough to soften them up.
" When they went in 1:09 and we were still coming, I felt pretty good that somebody had to come back to us. This is my biggest win, absolutely. And where better to win it than in New York? This is my first start ever in New York, and I like the way it started. Terry (Thompson, jockey) was very patient and he had her rolling when he hit the wire. She'll go back this time, and if everything goes well, we may leave her here. If she runs well in the Mother Goose. We'll play it by ear, but possibly, we'll leave her here."
The victory, worth $150,000, was the fourth in eight career starts for Island Sand, whose three runner-up efforts included a second to Ashado in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in her last start April 30. She was also second in Oaklawn's Fantasy (gr. II) April 9 to House of Fortune. She improved her career earnings to $402,005.
Richard D. Maynard bred the winner, an $82,000 Keeneland yearling purchase in September 2002, in Kentucky.
Bending Strings, Magical Illusion, Victory U.S.A., Bohemian Lady and La Reina completed the order. Grey Traffic and Pawyne Princess scratched.