Silverbulletday winner Indian Blessing makes her highly-anticipated return in the Acorn.

Silverbulletday winner Indian Blessing makes her highly-anticipated return in the Acorn.

Lynn Roberts

Indian Blessing Returns in Acorn

The Eclipse Award-winning filly has been off since March 8.

Last year’s Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old filly Indian Blessing makes her highly-anticipated return in the $250,000 Acorn (gr. I) June 7 at Belmont Park, and trainer Bob Baffert is expecting her to rebound nicely from her first career defeat.

“She needed some time off,” said Baffert of the dark bay daughter of Indian Charlie, who won her first two starts of 2008 but then finished second to Proud Spell in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) March 8. “She was getting a little sour, but she’s doing great now. That’s why we’re coming.”

The one-mile Acorn, which is race 8 on the Belmont program and begins the $1-million late Pick 4, drew a field of five 3-year-old fillies. With four graded stakes victories on her résumé Indian Blessing is by far the most accomplished.

Owned and bred by Patti and Hal Earnhardt, Indian Blessing won the first five starts of her career, including the Frizette (gr. I), which was also a one-mile contest on the Belmont dirt. After taking the Silverbulletday (gr. III) by a length over Proud Spell Feb. 9 at Fair Grounds, Indian Blessing tired in the stretch one month later to finish 2 1/4 lengths behind her rival in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

Baffert, who will use regular rider Garrett Gomez, also said Indian Blessing has grown nearly six inches since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) last October. The height should not affect her blazing early speed, according to Baffert

“She’s still fast,” Baffert said. “But she’s really grown up. Her thing has been to run them off their feet. I’m hoping she will show us an extra dimension. In hindsight, the second time we ran her at the Fair Grounds, she wasn’t the same Indian Blessing. I think the one-turn mile of the Acorn will tell us a lot.”

Indian Blessing is out of the Flying Chevron mare Shameful. She was bred in Kentucky. The even-money morning-line favorite will break from post two.

The main competition for Indian Blessing should come from either Zaftig or Game Face, a pair of fillies coming off grade III wins.

Susan Moore and M and M Thoroughbred Partners’ Zaftig romped to her first graded stakes score May 3 in the Nassau County Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont, taking the seven-furlong event by 5 1/4 lengths under Jorge Chavez. The daughter of Gone West has been lightly-raced, recording a 2-0-0 record from four starts for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Zaftig posted a six-furlong work in 1:13.58 May 31 at Belmont. John Velazquez will ride and break from the rail.

Zabeel Racing International’s Game Face stalked the pace and prevailed by a neck after a long stretch duel in the 7 1/2-furlong La Troienne Stakes (gr. III) May 3 at Churchill Downs. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Game Face also triumphed in the Old Hat (gr. II) at Gulfstream this season, and was second to Bsharpsonata in the Davona Dale (gr. II). The daughter of Menifee should be close to the pace with Eibar Coa.

Also expected to contest Indian Blessing’s early pace is Rosalie Dirico’s Dance Gal Dance, who went wire-to-wire in the March 14 Dewars Rocks at Belmont, a restricted sprint for New York breds.

Finally, Ron McCauley’s California-bred Golden Doc A, winner of the one-mile Las Virgenes Stakes (gr. I) Feb. 9 on the Santa Anita Cushion Track, seeks her first win on conventional dirt.

$250,000 Acorn Stakes (gr. I, Race 8, 4:16 p.m.), Three-Year-Old Fillies, One Mile (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Zaftig (KY) 121, John Velazquez
2. Indian Blessing (KY), 121, Garrett Gomez
3. Game Face (KY), 121, Eibar Coa
4. Dance Gal Dance (NY), 121, Rajiv Miragh
5. Golden Doc A (CA), 121, Kent Desoremeaux