Withgreatpleasure, the lone graded stakes winner entered in the Bed o' Roses (gr. III) at Belmont Park June 15, is looking to boost her record with another prestigious victory when she faces five others in the seven-furlong contest.
The Bed o' Roses, named for Alfred G. Vanderbilt II's Hall of Fame filly, is the third race on the card. The $150,000 handicap for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up, is slated for 2:07 p.m. EDT.
Trained by David Nunn for owner/breeder David Blethen, 5-year-old Withgreatpleasure sports a seasoned career thus far, winning or placing in 22 of her 32 starts, for earnings of $612,850. The daughter of Hold That Tiger was thrust into the limelight with her front-running victory in the April 8 Ruffian Handicap (gr. II) at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Installed at odds of 4-1, she enters the Bed o' Roses off a good third-place effort in the 6 1/2-furlong Vagrancy Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont May 18, a race in which other Bed 'o Roses contender Fantasy of Flight finished second.
In Withgreatpleasure's only other Belmont outing, she prevailed by a nose in a 6 1/2-furlong allowance optional claiming contest during the summer of her 4-year-old season. In the Bed o' Roses, the chestnut mare will receive the services of jockey John Velazquez, who was aboard for her Ruffian victory. The pair will break from post 4.
Bred in Kentucky, Withgreatpleasure is out of Double Negative mare Doubleyourpleasure.
Fantasy of Flight, trained by Michelle Nevin for Sanford H. Robbins, is the 2-1 morning line favorite. The 5-year-old will carry 116 pounds, including jockey Cornelio Velasquez, from post 2.
Two of Withgreatpleasure's other threats appear to be Dance to Bristol, who enters the Bed 'o Roses off a four-race win streak this year on the northeast circuit, and runaway Belmont stakes winner Willet.
Dance to Bristol, trained by Ollie Figgins III for Copperville Farm, will make her first trip over the Belmont surface in the Bed o' Roses.
"She deserves a shot, and I'm looking for a good, solid race from her," said Figgins, who, like Dance to Bristol, is seeking his first graded stakes score. "She's a little older now and more mature, and now she does a better job of running in hand and relaxing in the bridle. She's an easy horse to rate, so if you don't get away all that great you don't have to rush her up. It'd be great (to win the Bed o' Roses) because I don't get a lot of opportunities to train horses like her."
Dance to Bristol drew post position 3, was tabbed as the 5-2 morning-line second choice, and was assigned 118 pounds for the Bed o' Roses. Xavier Perez will ride.
The Bed o' Roses will be the first start of 2013 for Willet, who won over the Bed o' Roses course and distance when she defeated New York-breds by 9 1/4 lengths in the Iroquois Stakes in October. In her 2012 finale, she was second to Nefertini in Aqueduct's Go for Wand Handicap (gr. II) in November.
Trainer Jimmy Iselin said Willet, a 5-year-old who returned to the worktab in May, will be ready to run off the bench on Saturday.
"Willet is a magnificent horse," said Iselin, who owns the daughter of Jump Start in partnership with Charlotte Assoulin and El Gindi. "She's coming back after having not raced since Nov. 23, almost a seven-month layoff. My partners are patient and I'm patient, so we wanted to bring her back after giving her the winter off. The others are horses who have been running recently, but we're bringing over a mare who is sound and fit."
Rajiv Maragh has the return call aboard Willet, who will tote 116 pounds from post 6 at 5-1 on the morning line.
Rounding out the field is Munnings Sister, winner of the six-furlong Gold Princess Stakes at Belmont April 28; and Delightful Quality, a recent Belmont allowance optional claiming victor at seven furlongs.
$150,000 Bed o' Roses Handicap (gr. III, approximate post time 2:07 p.m. EDT), fillies and mares, 3YOs and up, seven furlongs (dirt)
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer, Odds
1. Munnings Sister (KY), L Saez, 116, B Tagg, 10-1
2. Fantasy of Flight (KY), C H Velasquez, 118, M Nevin, 2-1
3. Dance to Bristol (KY), X Perez, 118, O L Figgins, III, 5-2
4. Withgreatpleasure (KY), JR Velazquez, 116, D Nunn, 4-1
5. Delightful Quality (KY), J Castellano, 115, T Albertrani, 5-1
6. Willet (NY), R Maragh, 116, J H Iselin, 5-1