Beautiful America has Edge in Maid of the Mist

Trainer Ramon "Mike" Hernandez could have the post-time favorite in Saturday's $100,000 Maid of the Mist for juvenile fillies in Beautiful America.

Eleven are entered in the one-mile fray. Beautiful America, carrying top weight of 123, spots the rest of the field nine pounds.

Owned by Chester Broman, Beautiful America enters the Maid of the Mist on the heels of a 2 ½-length victory in the Joseph A. Gimma. The Dixie Brass filly rated kindly that afternoon, and launched a strong outside rally under jockey Jose Santos.

A couple of the fillies she defeated will try to turn the tables in the Maid of the Mist.

"Things change from race to race, but we've already beaten a bunch of these horses and that gives me some confidence," Hernandez said. "She rates herself and I don't think a mile will bother her."

Beautiful America, a winner of two of three starts, suffered her only loss when facing colts in the New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes in early September.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a two-time winner of the Maid of the Mist, will saddle a pair of lightly raced but talented fillies - Blink Twice and Combanchera.

Blink Twice is a Dixieland Band filly owned by Padua Stable. She went gate-to-wire en route to winning her only start back in late July. Blink Twice will not only be making her first start in nearly three months, she's stretching from 5 ½ furlongs to a mile.

"We had hoped to run in the Gimma, but she had a bruised foot and she missed the race," Pletcher said. "She's over it and has been training well.

"We think she's got the quality of a New York-bred stakes horse, only I'm not sure how far she wants to run. The hurdles here are pretty significant, but she deserves a shot."

Blink Twice is a full sister to Jena Jena, a sprint winner of more than $272,000 in the late 1990s.

Anstu Stable's Combanchera was a good-looking winner in her only start and like stablemate Blink Twice, stretches out to a mile in the Maid of the Mist. Combanchera, however, could have an easier time negotiating the extra distance.

Combanchera is by 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, whose offspring tend to excel in longer races. Additionally, Combanchera has a recency edge over Blink Twice, having won her debut on Sept. 18.

"The stretchout should be an easier jump for her," Pletcher said. "She's got the breeding and has trained like she wants to run longer."

$100,000 Maid of the Mist, 1 mile, 2-year-old fillies
PP Horse, Rider. Wgt.
1 Scarlet Billows, Dale Whittaker, 114
2 Behrnik, Javier Castellano, 114
3 Manny's Gold Maker, Aaron Gryder, 114
5 Doc's Doll, Edgar Prado, 114
6 Shesasmokin, Jerry Bailey, 114
7 Combanchera, John Velazquez, 114
8 Blink Twice, Jorge Chavez, 114
9 Rockin Rachel Anne, Paul Toscano, 114
10 Beautiful America, Jose Santos, 123
11 Doubtful Diva, Pedro Castillo, 114