Stellar Jayne, aimed by her new owners toward the 2005 Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I), makes her first start in more than two months in the Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park Sunday.
The two-time grade I winner was one of six older fillies and mares entered in the 1 1/16-mile Ruffian, one of three stakes races on the day's 10-race card.
A daughter of Metropolitan Handicap winner Wild Rush, Stellar Jayne was one of the top 3-year-old fillies during the second half of 2004. She won the Mother Goose (gr. I) at Belmont in June and also took the Gazelle (gr. I) in September.
Other notable efforts from Stellar Jayne include a win in Churchill's Dogwood (gr. III), a second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), a placing in the Alabama (gr. I), and a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park. Stellar Jayne was voted a finalist for the 3-year-old filly Eclipse Award won by Ashado.
Weeks after the Breeders' Cup, Stellar Jayne went through the auction ring at Keeneland and brought a winning bid of $3.6 million by Godolphin Racing. Her training was transferred from D. Wayne Lukas to Saeed bin Suroor. Stellar Jayne spent the winter with bin Suroor in Dubai.
She returned to the United States this spring with Belmont's Breeders' Cup Distaff her main objective. And she was good in her first and only start of the season, winning Belmont's restricted Misty Gallore on July 2. Rick Mettee, who oversees bin Suroor's New York string, hoped to run Stellar Jayne in Saratoga's Go for Wand (gr. I) in late July, but kept her out of the race because of an unsatisfactory work.
"All of her recent workouts at Saratoga were very good," Mettee said. "I thought she was where she should be in all of her five-eighths breezes. I'm pretty comfortable with where she is for this race. A mile and a sixteenth at Belmont should be just about right for her.
"It would have been pushing it to make the Go for Wand and we said, 'You know what? She really likes Belmont, the Ruffian is a mile and a sixteenth and the timing of it is perfect.' We're all excited about seeing her run. I know there are some tough fillies in there but, if she runs what she's capable of with her natural speed, she should pull a good trip."
Jerry Bailey, a three-time Ruffian winner, has the mount aboard Stellar Jayne.
Society Selection is a two-time stakes winner at Belmont, having won the 2003 Frizette (gr. I) and 2005 Shuvee Handicap (gr. II). H. Allen Jerkens, who won this race in 1994 with the legendary Sky Beauty, trains her.
Society Selection, a multiple Grade 1 winner and earner of nearly $1.5 million, underwent throat surgery after finishing a lackluster fourth to Ashado in the Go for Wand at Saratoga July 31. $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I, Race 9, 5:12 p.m.), fillies & mares 3 & up, 1 1/6 miles
PP. HORSE, TRAINER, JOCKEY, WGT.
1. Capeside Lady, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 116
2. Society Selection, H. Allen Jerkens, Javier Castellano, 118
3. Bending Strings, Wallace Dollase, Gary Stevens, 114
4. Halory Leigh, Dale Romans, Craig Perret, 116
5. Stellar Jayne, Saeed bin Suroor, Jerry Bailey, 119
6. Taygete, Bobby Frankel, Edgar Prado, 113