Appalachian Stakes winner Melhor Ainda heads strong field for Beverly D.

Appalachian Stakes winner Melhor Ainda heads strong field for Beverly D.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Melhor Ainda Pronounced Beverly D. Favorite

A field of 10 fillies and mares has been drawn for Saturday's signature female turf race on the Arlington Park calendar, the $750,000 Beverly D. (gr. IT). Sister to the prestigious Arlington Million (gr. IT) for the males on the card, the 1 3/16-mile test brings in a nice group--led postward by the Bobby Frankel-trained Melhor Ainda.

However you pronounce it (actually, it's May-your Ay-in-da), T N T Stud's 3-year-old Melhor Ainda has been stellar this season and stands as the 3-1 morning line favorite. The daughter of Pulpit was second-best to Japanese invader Cesario in the July 3 American Oaks (gr. IT) in her last start at Hollywood, and put in two fine recent works at Saratoga to tune up for this contest.

Bred in Kentucky by Jayeff "B" Stables and Reynolds Bell Jr., Melhor Ainda was a $125,000 Keeneland September yearling sales graduate in 2003. She captured stakes contests this spring at Keeneland (Appalachian Stakes) and Belmont (Sands Point Stakes, gr. IIIT), and retains the services of her Eclipse Award-winning regular rider, John Velazquez.

Near the front early in both stakes wins, the bay Melhor Ainda showed in both the Oaks and in a maiden win at Belmont that she can also turn it on at the end.

She's earned her owners $363,576. Looking for her first grade I score at the Chicago track, she and Velazquez will exit from the seventh post from the rail.

Barnmate Megahertz may be the one to give her the stiffest test. This Bobby Frankel student has a grade I win in the 2003 John C. Mabee Handicap under her girth, seven grade II scores on the West Coast over the last three seasons, and earnings approaching $2 million.

By British stallion Pivotal, and out of the Rahy mare Heavenly Ray, the 6-year-old chestnut was bred in Great Britain by Cheveley Park Stud and runs for the stable of Michael Bello.

She posted a solid, six-furlong work (1:13.40) at Del Mar Aug. 7 and will have red-hot Alex Solis aboard as she looks to get back to grade I-winning form.

The 7-2 second choice, Megahertz will head out from post four.

Rising 4-year-old star Wend has won five straight, most recently by a neck over Beverly D. foe Wonder Again in the July 2 New York Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont. The lightly-raced Pulpit filly is five-for-six lifetime, with her only blemish coming all the way back in her first race in late 2003.

The Claiborne Farm homebred is conditioned by Bill Mott and lands the services of regular rider Jerry Bailey--always a deadly combination. She has worked steadily at Belmont, including a four-furlong breeze (:50.22) Tuesday.

The 4-1 third choice, she and Bailey will start from the six hole.

Adding some intrigue to the affair is Martin Schwartz's Angara. The Patrick Biancone trainee was brilliant at Keeneland this spring, taking an allowance there with one of the meet's most impressive moves, then mirrored that with a driving win in the April 27 Bewitch Stakes (gr. IIIT).

The British-bred daughter of Alzao was second in the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. II) in May and, perhaps most importantly, was coming fast late with nowhere to go in the July 30 Diana Stakes (gr. I).

With four wins in eleven starts, earnings of $236,845, and Hall of Famer Gary Stevens aboard, this filly is not one to overlook. She'll break outside with only Wonder Again to her right.

Japanese-bred Sundrop, by Sunday Silence; Tarfah; Miss Terrible; Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier's British-bred Mona Lisa; and Halo Ola complete the field.

Beverly D. (gr. IT), Saturday, Aug. 13, fillies and mares, 3-year-olds and up, 1 3/16 miles, $750,000.

PP--Horse, Jockey, Odds

1--Sundrop, Mark Guidry, 8-1
2--Tarfah, Darryl Holland, 15-1
3--Miss Terrible, Patrick Valenzuela, 10-1
4--Megahertz, Alex Solis, 7-2
5--Mona Lisa, Kieren Fallon, 10-1
6--Wend, Jerry Bailey, 4-1
7--Melhor Ainda, John Velazquez, 3-1
8--Halo Ola, Jose Valdivia, 20-1
9--Angara, Gary Stevens, 8-1
10--Wonder Again, Edgar Prado, 8-1