Robert T. Manfuso's unbeaten Belterra, a graded stakes winner as a 2-year-old last year, makes her 2002 debut against five rivals in Friday's $250,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II), the highlight of Gulfstream Park's series for 3-year-old fillies. This 32nd running of the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss goes as the 10th event on an 11-race card and offers $150,000 to the winning owner.
Carl Nafzger trains Belterra, a bay filly who broke her maiden at Keeneland in early October, took an allowance event at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31, then drew off to win the Golden Rod Stakes (gr. II) in her first try around two turns on Nov. 24. Belterra is a daughter of Unbridled, whom Nafzger trained to win both the Florida Derby (gr. I) and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) in 1990. She has been working steadily for her return to action, and drilled six furlongs in a sparkling 1:12 3/5 from the gate on March 4. Under the conditions of the race, she carries 120 pounds and will be ridden by Jon Court, who has been aboard in all three of her starts.
Her main rival will be Phil Combest's Ms Brookski, who came off the turf to register a surprise victory in the Davona Dale Stakes (gr. II) here on Feb. 24. The daughter of Montbrook won four races in 2001 for trainer Reed Combest, but appeared to have tailed off late in the season when she ran fourth in the Tropical Park Oaks (which came off the grass) and 10th in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT) here. However, Ms Brookski appreciated the return to the main track in the Davona Dale, a prep for the Bonnie Miss, and drew clear in the stretch to win by almost four lengths over Colonial Glitter.
With regular rider Rosemary Homeister Jr. on the sidelines with a broken bone in her right arm, Combest has given the mount on Ms Brookski to Jorge Chavez, who was aboard in the Herecomesthebride. Ms Brookski carries topweight of 122 pounds under the conditions, one more than she toted in her winning effort.
Milt Wolfson sends out Stride Rite Racing Stable's Stormy Frolic, who won the Tropical Park Oaks by nearly seven lengths, but ran fourth behind Ms Brookski in the Davona Dale after getting off to a slow start in her first try with graded stakes company. The daughter of Summer Squall will have Jerry Bailey aboard once more as she carries 120 pounds, one less than in the Davona Dale.
Miu Miu, a Kris S. filly owned by Haras Santa Maria de Araras, won her first two career starts for trainer Bill Mott, but faltered badly when stepped up to stakes company in the Davona Dale. The filly never got untracked and finished sixth. She carries 118 with Pat Day in the irons again.
Joseph P. Platt Jr.'s Nonsuch Bay, unbeaten in two starts at the meeting, takes a major jump in class for this event. The daughter of Mr. Greely, trained by Frank Alexander, broke her maiden here Jan. 20, then scored by a neck last out. Both starts came in sprints and Nonsuch Bay has a big job in negotiating two turns for the first time in her career. John Velazquez rides at 116 pounds.
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens saddles Cynthia Knight's Dust Me Off, a gray daughter of With Approval who has won both her starts on the dirt, with her only loss coming on the turf. Last out, Dust Me Off dusted off an allowance field on Feb. 20, winning by nearly six lengths. Edgar Prado gets the mount for the first time as Dust Me Off carries 116.