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Strike the Moon Fits Well in Friday Allowance Dash
By Jack Will
R. Larry Johnson’s 4-year-old Kentucky homebred filly Strike the Moon ran very well to finish third behind Pomeroys Pistol in the Sugar Swirl Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 10, and comes back as one of the favorites in Friday’s 6 ½-furlong allowance feature with jockey Edgar Pardo in a field of seven fillies and mares.
“The timing is right for this race to get her to the ($150,000) Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) in just about four weeks (Feb. 19),” said trainer Michael Trombetta Monday morning. “The extra distance (Sugar Swirl at six furlongs) Friday gives her a little more room to work with.”
A daughter of Malibu Moon, Strike the Moon was tried around two turns twice last year with a very good effort to finish second by a head in the Delaware Oaks (G2) behind St. John’s River in July and fourth in the Monmouth Oaks (G3) in August before turning back to score in the rich Charles Town Oaks at seven furlongs in September.
“Our instincts are that under the right circumstances she can do well at two turns, but is probably best at sprint distances,” said Trombetta whose main base of operations is the mid-Atlantic region with a winter division at Palm Meadows. He got the South Florida winter season off to a strong start at Calder winning the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup with Bad Debt and the Fred Hooper Handicap (G3) with Jimanator in November.
Strike the Moon, beaten only two lengths in the Sugar Swirl, faces several others that appear to be using Friday’s race as a tune-up for the 6 ½ -furlong Hurricane Bertie, including Wesley Ward’s 4-year-old filly Final Mesa with jockey Jeffrey Sanchez. The daughter of Sky Mesa will be making her first start since finishing a close-up fourth behind Strike the Moon in the Ms Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 20 last spring.
A $72,000 Saratoga yearling purchase, Final Mesa won the first three starts of her career as a 2-year-old in 2010, including the Polly Drummond Stakes at Delaware Park and My Dear Stakes at Woodbine, before tiring to sixth in the Sorrento Stakes (G3) at Del Mar. In her only start after the Sorrento before the Ms Preakness, she won the Old Hat Stakes (G3) here early last January with Pomeroys Pistol second.
Completing the field for Friday’s feature are West Point Thoroughbreds’ Belle of the Hall, Elvis Trujillo; Platinum Equestrian Corp.’s Bessie M, Javier Castellano; Charles Dimino’s Catch a Thief, Rajiv Maragh; and Farnsworth Stable’s pair of Bronx City Girl and Wildcat Aly with Luis Saez named on both.