One of the toughest assignments in racing comes when a recent maiden winner tackles stakes company in her next start. Such was the case on Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park when Double S Stable's Minge Cove faced winners for the first time in the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. IIIT).Minge Cove was beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the Herecomesthebride after a troubled trip. The winner, Lucifer's Stone, had just taken an entry-level allowance and owned a decided experience edge. When the two meet again in Sunday's $100,000 Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on grass, Minge Cove might have a better shot than she did just over three months ago.Minge Cove raced in traffic down inside toward the rear of the field in the Herecomesthebride. Lucifer's Stone was also affected by the congestion, but she raced just in front of Minge Cove and got the jump on her down the stretch."She never got to run," trainer Allen Iwinski said of Minge Cove's fourth-place finish at Gulfstream. "Three jumps past the wire, our filly was blowing by everyone."So, before Minge Cove made her next start in the Via Borghese Stakes on March 21 at Gulfstream, Iwinski and jockey Chris DeCarlo discussed a change in strategy. "In the Herecomesthebride we wanted to get back and save ground," Iwinski said. "That's what get her on trouble, though. For the Via Borghese, we decided to let her go forward from the break and put her in a good position to avoid the situation she was in the race before."DeCarlo placed the daughter of Sandpit in the middle of the pack on the outside in the Via Borghese. Minge Cove kicked on strongly and got up to win by 1 3/4 lengths. However, since her first stakes win, things have not exactly gone according to plan."She missed a race with a lung infection and then she came back and worked slow," Iwinski said. "But the only reason why she went slow was because I was getting on one of my riders for working horses too fast. She's had some nice five- and six-furlong works, so I think she's ready to go."Team Solaris Stable's Lucifer's Stone seems like the filly to beat in the Sands Point. The Linda Rice-trained filly has won three straight, including the nine-furlong Herecomesthebride and her next start, the one-mile Appalachian at Keeneland.
-more-By no means has Lucifer's Stone's win streak come easy. The daughter of Horse Chestnut has had to work hard for every score."When she won at Gulfstream, she had to barrel through on the fence," Rice said. "I was a little concerned the Appalachian would be a little short for her, but she did get up after the rider of Western Ransom had whipped her in the face twice coming down the stretch. It looked like she was going past Western Ransom, then all of the sudden she kind of hesitated, but then she went on with it."Rice has intentionally kept the filly's races spaced out so she could be fresh for the grade I races later in the year."If things were to go very well in the Sands Point, we'd have to swing her back quickly to make the American Oaks," Rice said, eyeing Hollywood Park's grade I, $750,000 race at 1 1/4 miles on July 3.Frank Manganaro's Mambo Slew will make her first start on New York turf in the Sands Point. All five of her grass races have been at one mile in California. She won the Miesque (gr. IIIT) last fall and the Blue Norther in January before failing in her last two starts. Mambo Slew last raced April 11 at Santa Anita when she finished 10th in the Providencia after experiencing trouble."She was never able to get through inside," said Patrick Biancone, who trains the filly upstate in Saratoga. "The big issue on Sunday will be how well West Coast horses compare to East Coast horses."Mike Smith has ridden Mambo Slew in her last four starts and will fly in for the mount.Please Take Me Out is the stronger of two horses entered by owner Robert Perez and trainer Alfredo Callejas. Please Take Me Out has lost only once on turf, but has won her last three on the grass including a pacesetting victory in the Miss Grillo (gr. IIIT) here last fall. Cherry's Hunter, a filly who has never run on grass but is bred for it--by Jade Hunter out of a Strawberry Road dam--will join Please Take Me Out in the gate for Perez and Callejas.The top two finishers from the May 27 Terpsichorist Stakes, Delta Sensation and Savage Beauty, will try a graded stakes on turf for the first time in the Sands Point. Trainer Bobby Frankel has entered a pair in Gracefully and Miss Coronado, both of whom will be making their first starts in New York.Sands Point Stakes (gr. IIIT),3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 miles, turf, Belmont Park, Sunday, June 13
PP, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Wgt.
1, Savage Beauty, H. Allen Jerkens, Richard Migliore 115
2, Miss Coronado, Bobby Frankel, Jerry Bailey, 122
3, Minge Cove, Allen Iwinski, Chris DeCarlo, 119
4, Mambo Slew, Patrick Biancone, Mike Smith, 122
5, Lucifer's Stone, Linda Rice, Jose Santos, 122
6, Serendipitous, H. James Bond, Mike Luzzi, 115
7, Gracefully, Bobby Frankel, Javier Castellano, 115
8, Delta Sensation, Frank Alexander, Jorge Chavez, 119
9a, Cherry's Hunter, Alfredo Calleja,s Fernando Jara, 115
10a, Please Take Me Out, Alfredo Callejas, Aaron Gryder, 119
11, Vous, Timothy Hills. Victor Fernandez. 119
12, Fortunate Damsel. P.G. Johnson. Shaun Bridgmohan. 115