Mariensky Loves Soft Belmont Turf...Again

One thing we know for sure, Mariensky likes the turf about as soft as it can get. Twice in a week, she has won graded stakes over a very soft Belmont Park turf course.

Mariensky won the Sheepshead Bay Handicap (gr. IIT) on May 31, and then returned today to take the Just a Game Breeders' Cup (gr. IIIT). The fractions were so slow in the Sheepshead Bay that it obviously took very little out of the 4-year-old daughter of Gulch.

Trainer Christophe Clement wheeled Mariensky right back in the Just a Game and she got the type of turf she likes again. She defeated Riskaverse by two lengths. Favored Wonder Again, with Edgar Prado riding, had to wait for racing room and was moving late, missing the second spot by a head.

"She got stopped cold," said James Toner, trainer of Wonder Again. "Edgar was staying inside, hoping for an opening, and it never opened up. He waited until the eighth-pole, and once he got out, they were gone and the other filly had taken off in front of her. But she made a good run in the last part of it. She ran a huge race."

Mariensky merely followed Riskaverse into the lane, then worked hard to get by her down the lane.

"We knew that she would handle the soft turf course fine from last week," Clement said. "That was a lot of fun. That horse is doing very well. I thought she came back in great shape from her last race. I called the owners on Tuesday and I said, `Listen, do you think I'm nuts just to have a look (at the Just A Game)?' That showed that if a horse likes soft ground, it doesn't really matter if it is a mile or a mile and three-eighths."

Mariensky was the third winner on the day for jockey Jose Santos, who will try to guide Funny Cide to a victory in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in an attempt to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.

"I saw her run the last time when Johnny Velazquez rode her," Santos said. "She was just riding on top of the ground, and the ground was just as soft now as it was last week. So, I was very confident riding her."

Mariensky, owned by Waterville Lake Stables, ran the mile in 1:43.28 after Repository and Love n' Kiss S. had set fractions of :24.33, :49.25, and 1:16.28. The final time was 1:43.28.

Mariensky, bred in Kentucky by Calumet Farm, is out of the Lomond mare Julie la Rousse. She was a $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling.

(Chart, Equibase)