Mitchell Ranch's Leave Me Alone, runaway winner of the seven-furlong Test Stakes (gr. I), will stretch out to 1 1/8 miles in Saturday's $250,000 Gazelle Handicap (gr. I), which drew only five starters.
Leave Me Alone won the Test by 7 3/4 lengths, covering the seven furlongs in 1:22 3/5. She was given a month off after that race by trainer Eric Kruljac, who shipped the daughter of Bold Badgett back to California.
She returned to New York on Monday, but Kruljac would have rather waited and brought her later in the week.
"She got in at Saratoga the day before the Test," Kruljac said. "The only way we could come on the airplane we wanted to come in on was to fly Monday. She flew into Albany and then vanned down to Belmont. I didn't want to put her on a plane with a bunch of other freight. She likes flying with other horses.
"She seems better now than she was going into the Test. I thought she had a good chance to get a piece in the Test and if everything went well, she could possibly win it. I didn't expect anything like that."
The nine furlongs of the Gazelle will be the farthest distance Leave Me Alone has tried. She is one-for-two at 1 1/16 miles, but Kruljac attributes her loss in the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks (gr. II) to trying to take her back.
"When she came back to the winner's circle after the Test, I asked Kent (jockey Kent Desormeaux) how she was pulling up and he told me he had tons of horse left," Kruljac said. "If she shows up the way she did in the Test, I think she'll have no problem with the distance."
Since Bold Badgett is not a Breeders' Cup-nominated stallion, the owners of Leave Me Alone would have to put up 20% of the purse to nominate her, meaning $400,000. Kruljac said a run in the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) is unlikely at this point, but things could change after the Gazelle.
"If she ran in the Distaff, she would have to run second just to break even," Kruljac said.
Live Oak Plantation's In the Gold has run her three best races around one turn. Far back early after a bad break in the Test, the filly may appreciate more ground in the Gazelle. She made a premature move in the Acorn (gr. I), going from last to first, but was unable to sustain her bid.
"She should like getting back to Belmont," trainer Nick Zito said. "She's a quality filly and she never runs a bad race. She hit the side of the gate coming out in the Test and we've schooled her a bunch of times, so I think she'll be different."$250,000 Gazelle Handicap (gr. I, Race 7, 4:08 p.m.), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Dancing Edie, Craig Dollase, Corey Nakatani, 115
2. Seeking the Ante, John Kimmel, Richard Migliore, 117
3. In the Gold, Nick Zito, Gary Stevens, 117
4. Leave Me Alone, Eric Kruljac, Kent Desormeaux, 119
5. Yolanda B. Too, Richard Violette, Jerry Bailey, 115Dancing Edie will race without blinkers.