Comely Stakes winner Bella Bellucci faces You in the Acorn.

Comely Stakes winner Bella Bellucci faces You in the Acorn.

AP/ NYRA/ Adam Coglianese

High Profile Jocks, Fillies Vie in Acorn

Friday's 1-mile Acorn (gr. I), the first leg of the Triple Tiara at Belmont Park, boasts a showdown between star 3-year-old fillies Bella Bellucci and You. The Neil Drysdale-trained Bella Bellucci comes in off a sensational seven-length score in the 1-mile Comely (gr. III) at Aqueduct on April 14. You, from the barn of trainer Bobby Frankel, last finished a weakening 4th in the 1 1/8-mile Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) at Churchill Downs on May 3.

The race also features a duel between Hall of Fame riders. Gary Stevens will rein Michael Tabor's Bella Bellucci, a daughter of French Deputy. Jerry Bailey will be aboard Edmund A. Gann's You, a dark bay daughter of You and I.

"Her best quality is her stride, and her physical make up," said Stevens of Bella Bellucci. "She's very intimidating. She reminds me a lot of Winning Colors. She has the same temperament, and can be on the ornery side."

Correspondingly, Bailey is quite the fan of his own filly's attributes.

"She's easy to ride because she always puts herself in the race," said Bailey. "She's very consistent. She doesn't make any mistakes."

The Acorn will be the first time the pair have crossed paths since last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), also at Belmont Park. Bella Bellucci finished a promising third that October afternoon. Favored You checked in a disappointing fourth.

"She got caught down inside on a very biased racetrack," said Stevens of his filly's Breeders' Cup performance. "It was playing for outside speed, and she got caught down inside."

The 1 1/16 mile of the Breeders' Cup event may have been the first indication that You would prefer to race at shorter distances.

"At seven-eighths, she's as good as anybody. At a mile and up, she loses a little bit of her edge," concedes Bailey.

The Acorn's 1-mile distance appears to be the perfect middle- ground for the speedy You and the long striding Bella Bellucci to do battle.

Allen Jerkens will saddle Dust Me Off, winner of the 1 1/8-mile Bonnie Miss (gr. II) at Gulfstream earlier this year. Nonsuch Bay, who took the seven-furlong Nassau County (gr. II) earlier in the Belmont Meeting, will go out for trainer Frank Alexander. Rodney Jenkins sends out Willa On the Move, who will be visiting her fourth racetrack in as many starts. Proper Gamble, winner of the Beaumont (gr. II) at Keeneland in April, will race for trainer Todd Pletcher.