Sunday's Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park features only five fillies, but the catch is the top three choices in the race all run their best when on the front end.
The filly and mare race is contested on the main track at 1 1/16-mile.
Pool Land, Take D' Tour and Summerly all like to make the lead in their races, which poses an interesting dilemma for the riders, namely John Velazquez, Cornelio Velasquez, and Garrett Gomez, respectively.
The other two entrants are Classy Charm and Miss Shop.
Take D' Tour and Summerly are both grade I winners and Pool Land is not, but it may be Pool Land that steps up in the Ruffian for the country's leading trainer, Todd Pletcher.
Pool Land is making just her second start in graded company, her last outing being the July 30 Go For Wand Handicap (gr. I), in which she finished third to Spun Sugar and Balletto. That was her first race in 10 weeks.
Prior to that, Pool Land won the Allaire du Pont Breeders' Cup Distaff Handicap and Doubledogdare Stakes, both at the same distance as the Ruffian. The 4-year-old Silver Deputy
filly has won five of seven starts for owner Eugene Melnyk.
Take D' Tour came out of allowance company to win the Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) and Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I) before running fourth in the Go for Wand. By Tour d'Or, she is owned by Alice Muller and trained by David Hawkes.
Both of Take D' Tour's wins were wire-to-wire scores at Belmont, thus she returns to a track she likes after one race upstate at Saratoga.
Summerly comes off a win at Saratoga in the Aug. 4 Ashado Stakes. The Summer Squall filly was making her first start in a year and could be rounding back into top form. Owned by Ron Winchell and trained by Scott Blasi, she won the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) last year.
The field, in post position order:
Take D' Tour, 119, Velasquez
Pool Land, 116, Velazquez
Summerly, 118, Gomez
Miss Shop, 112, Jara
Classy Charm, 114, Smith