Treat Gently and Kent Desormeaux sweep to the win in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Treat Gently and Kent Desormeaux sweep to the win in the Sheepshead Bay Stakes.
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Treat Gently Sails Away in Sheepshead Bay

Juddmonte's 5-year-old mare finds success over Belmont Park's inner turf.

A group II winner in France, Juddmonte's Treat Gently finally found found success in the United States when she triumphed impressively in the $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes (gr. IIT) (VIDEO) on the Belmont Park inner turf course May 22.

Ridden by Kent Desormeaux, the 5-year-old Treat Gently swept past pacesetter Pari leaving the turn in the 1 3/8-mile test of older fillies and mares and held her rivals at bay for a 4 1/2-length tally. The final time was 2:14.09 over firm going.

With a late run, Nehantic Kat nosed Bubbly Jane for second, while 2-1 favorite The Gaillimh Girl was a non-threatening fourth.

Treat Gently won the Prix de Malleret (Fr-II) at Saint Cloud as a 3-year-old in June 2008 when trained by Andre Fabre. The promising filly ran third, 2 1/2 lengths behind champion Zarkava in the Prix de Vermeille (Fr-I) at Longchamp 2 1/2 months later.

But success in the U.S. has come slowly  for the British homebred daughter of Cape Cross--Kid Gloves, by In the Wings. After defeating  an allowance/optional claiming cast at Belmont in her first American start last July, Treat Gently ran sixth in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (Can-IT) at Woodbine, wrapping it up for the year for the late trainer Bobby Frankel.

She returned in 2010 for Bill Mott. After posting a second in the San Gorgonio Handicap (gr. IIT) at Santa Anita in January, she was soundly beaten in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IIT) when seventh, and in Keeneland's 1 1/16-mile Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IIT), when she ran sixth in her most recent start April 10.

The added distance, a slightly softer field and a return to Belmont all seemed to work in Treat Gently's favor in the Sheepshead Bay.

“She’s a quality filly and we just had to get everything right," Mott said. "We tried her at a mile and a sixteenth last time, that was my mistake. I thought she would be able to handle that trip, and it wasn’t meant to be, so we put her back at a distance more appropriate for her."

Mott said Treat Gently would likely remain in New York to compete in the New York Stakes (gr. IIT) June 19 at Belmont.

She settled into second as Pari got away to an open lead while clicking off easy fractions of :24.52, :49.45, and 1:13.98.Trailing by about two lengths down the backstretch, Treat Gently closed in rounding the final bend and had control while well in hand at the top of the stretch.

Desormeaux took a quick glance over his shoulder before asking Treat Gently for a bit more and she responded willingly to open up by three lengths at the furlong pole. She reached the wire comfortably in front while under slight urging.

"She’s had success at Belmont, maybe she likes it here," Desormeaux said. "All together, she was super today. Mr. Mott had her blowing fire. My trip was perfect. Could you draw one up like that every day for me? That’d be fine.”

Nehantic Kat, last in the field of seven for the opening mile while saving ground, rallied when angled out for the drive and gained the measure of the Brazilian-bred Bubbly Jane in the final couple of strides to get up for second. It was 2 1/2 lengths to the Irish-bred filly The Gaillimh Girl, who was out-kicked in the lane in her second U.S. start for Christophe Clement. Liberally, Ballynoe and Pari followed.

Treat Gently earned $90,000 for her fourth lifetime win in 13 starts, boosting her career total to $411,620.

Carrying 116 pounds, the winner paid $10.40, $5.90, and $3.70 as the third choice of the bettors. Nehantic Kat, rebounding from a last-place finish in the Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Keeneland a month ago for trainer Barclay Tagg, returned $5.10 and $3.20. The exacta was $2.90. In her first start since Nov. 1, Bubbly Jane, the 118-pound high weight, paid $2.90 to show.

Tarrip scratched.