John D. Gunther's Bending Strings relished a cutback to the seven-furlong distance of the $195,000 Nassau County Breeders' Cup (gr. II) for 3-year-old fillies, drawing away for her first graded stakes victory by 4 3/4 lengths at Belmont Park Saturday.
Jerry Bailey rode the dark bay Kentucky homebred filly by American Chance
for the first time in her eight-race career. Third while racing in hand, she rallied three wide on the turn, taking the lead when roused and drawing away under continued urging from Bailey. The time was 1:22 3/5.
Bending Strings was coming off a second-place finish in the one-mile Comely (gr. III) at Aqueduct April 9 when she took the lead under Mike Luzzi but could not hold off the charge of Society Selection.
There were no such dangers Saturday. Grey Traffic, the 8-5 favorite in the field of six with Edgar Prado aboard, settled for second, four lengths in front of 21-1 A Lulu Ofa Menifee and Joey Bravo in the strung out finish.
Cherry Bomb set the early pace, going :22 2/5 and :45 1/5 before fading to fifth as the 2-1 second choice.
Kiaran McLaughlin trains Bending Strings, who is from the dam Straight South, by Hail the Pirates.
She improved to 3-3-0 in eight career tries while picking up the winning purse of $120,000. She has earned $205,550 in her career.
The third choice paid $7.70, $3.90 and $3.20. Grey Traffic returned $3.60 and $3.30. A Lulu Ofa Menifee's show was $6.70. The exacta was worth $26.40.
Delta Sensation, Cherry Bomb and Whirlwind Charlott completed the order of finish. Forestier, Slewville and Frenchglen scratched.