Ocean Drive Going Right Way for Sands Point

(from Belmont track report)
Ocean Drive, 4-for-5 in her career for trainer Todd Pletcher to be ridden by Jerry Bailey, will be a short price Sunday in the $100,000 Sands Point Handicap (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 mile on the Belmont Park turf.

Ocean Drive began her career perfect in three starts, breaking her maiden at Saratoga and prevailing in the Salem County at the Meadowlands and Keeneland's Green River. She suffered her first defeat when shipped to Hollywood Park in California for the Miesque Stakes (gr. IIIT), finishing fourth as the 4-5 favorite.

"For whatever reason, she didn't fire her best shot out there," Pletcher said. "The turf was very firm there. I don't know if it was that or the ship."

Pletcher opted to give the daughter of Belong to Me-Clever But Costly some down time during the winter, freshening her up at the Palm Meadows Training Center. When the half-sister to 1996 Futurity winner Traitor returned to the races in 2003, she got back in the win column with a gate-to-wire score in Keeneland's Appalachian. Ocean Drive showed a change in her stalking tactics in that race.

"That could have been a combination of being sharp off the layoff and Jerry (Bailey) wanting to maintain position from the inside post," Pletcher said. "I was concerned watching the race because that's usually not the best way to win at Keeneland, but her class prevailed."

Ocean Drive was purchased as a yearling by owners Sy and Bonnie Baskin in the 2001 Keeneland September sale for $160,000. She has already earned $207,736.

Just in case the Sands Point has to be run on the main track, Pletcher also entered Little Bonnet, a 7 ¾-length allowance winner over the slop here May 25.

"Ocean Drive trains well on the dirt and at some point we might try her on dirt, but the conditions would have to be right," Pletcher said.

H. James Bond another trainer having a big Belmont meet, will saddle William Clifton Jr.'s Fortuitous in the Sands Point. The filly suffered her first turf loss April 6 in Gulfstream's Via Borghese. The daughter of top grass sire Dynaformer experienced traffic problems while between horses and behind the leaders. When Edgar Prado got her clear, she came with a strong finish, but ran out ground one-half length behind the winner.

"The traffic cost her," Bond said. "She's a very nice filly and she's almost perfect on grass."

Even though Fortuitous holds a victory over an "off" turf course, Bond is not sure how she will handle the Belmont course Sunday.

"The course she won over at Saratoga will be nothing like what she'll see Sunday," Bond said. "It's like a bog out there."

Klaravich Stable's One And Twenty won a division of Woodbine's Natalma last year after breaking her maiden over a "yielding" course at Saratoga. In her only 2003 effort, she finished a close eighth in the Via Borghese. She also had some traffic trouble in the stretch and jockey Gary Boulanger wrapped up on her in deep stretch once obviously beaten.

"She's one-paced and I could have given better instructions for that race," trainer Richard Violette Jr. said. "The leaders went a half in :50 and when they uickened, that left her grinding behind them. Gary didn't beat her up. It wasn't a bad race."

One And Twenty's schedule has been altered somewhat by the wet spring weather.

"I would have liked to gotten another race into her," Violette said. "She handled soft turf at Saratoga, so I don't think she'll have much problem with the ground."

$100,000 Sands Point Handicap (gr. IIIT), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/8 mile on turf
1. Ocean Drive, Jerry Bailey, 122
2. Andover Lady, Jean-Luc Samyn, 115
3. Gal O Gal, Eibar Coa, 122
4. Positively Wild, Aaron Gryder, 115
5. A Queen's Smile, Javier Castellano, 117
6. Snowdrops, Edgar Prado, 115
7. One And Twenty, Richard Migliore, 119
8. Film Maker, John Velazquez, 115
9a.Fortuitous, Jorge Chavez, 119
10. Virgin Voyage, Jose Santos, 117
Main track only
11. Yell, no rider, 122
12. Commander's Lady, no rider, 115
13. Fircroft, no rider, 115
14a.Theology, Jorge Chavez, 115
15. Little Bonnet, John Velazquez, 115
16. Savebythelight, no rider, 115