Wonder Again Meets Tough Field in NY Handicap

Wonder Again, who ran quite well in her 2005 debut, should be tough to handle Saturday at Belmont Park in the track's New York Handicap (gr. IIT).

The 6-year-old Silver Hawk mare prefers more distance and the June 11 mile Just a Game (gr. IIT) should set her up perfectly for the race on Saturday, which is a quarter of a mile longer.

Wonder Again had a solid work since the Just a Game, the fastest of 16 going five furlongs in the turf at Belmont on June 26. She covered the distance in :59.84.

Owned by Phillips Racing Partnership and John Phillips of Darby Dan Farm, Wonder Again won the race last year when she stalked the pace and then blew out to a commanding five-length lead. She won by 3 ¼ lengths.

Edgar Prado will again ride Wonder Again, who also won the Diana Handicap (gr. IT) last year.

A winner of seven of 20 starts and $1.1 million, Wonder Again will break from the outside in the seven-horse field.

The race will not be easy for Wonder Again, with a solid field to line up against her. One of those who might prove tough is Wend, who is unbeaten in four starts on the grass but has not yet faced competition as fierce as she will meet Saturday.

By Pulpit out of the Topsider mare Thread, Wend has been impressive since trainer Bill Mott moved her to the grass after she ran poorly in her first start. In her first stakes start in her last start, she won the Hollywood Wildcat Breeders' Cup Handicap at Calder.

The Claiborne Farm homebred will be ridden by Jerry Bailey.

Like Wonder Again, a couple of regulars in these races return -- Film Maker and Riskaverse.

Film Maker, by Dynaformer, has made one start this year, winning the Galorette Handicap (gr. IIT) in a gutsy performance at Pimlico May 21 when she got up by a neck. Owned by Courtlandt Farms and trained by Graham Motion, she will be ridden by John Velazquez.

Film Maker finished her 2004 campaign by running second in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), in which Wonder Again was third.

Riskaverse, owned by Fox Ridge Farm and trained by Pat Kelly, ran eighth in the Just a Game but is another that should like more distance. She won the Flower Bowl (gr. IT) last fall at Belmont at the 1 ¼-mile distance. Javier Castellano will ride the 6-year-old Dynaformer mare.

The field, in post order, with jockey assignments:

1 Vallera, 118, Norberto Arroyo Jr.
2 Wend, 116, Jerry Bailey
3 Film Maker, 121, John Velazquez
4 Riskaverse, 118, Javier Castellano
5 Finery, 116, Pablo Fragoso
6 Muguet, 112, Eibar Coa
7 Wonder Again, 120, Edgar Prado