ELMONT, N.Y. – Jay Em Ess’ By the Moon dug in for a 1 ¾-length score over last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint winner Wavell Avenue to earn her first victory in more than 15 months in the Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Under current meet leading jockey Jose Ortiz, By the Moon broke from the inside post and settled in the middle of the tightly bunched pack two lengths off pacesetting West Coast Chick, who led through an opening quarter-mile in 23.26 seconds and the half in 46.10. As the field fanned out for home, the Indian Charlie filly seized the advantage and kicked on ahead of Wavell Avenue, the even-money favorite and field high weight at 123 pounds.
“She was 100 percent today,” said Ortiz. “She broke very alert, it was great. She put me in a great position behind the speed.”
Sent off as the 2-1 second choice, By the Moon returned $6.40 for a $2 win wager and completed the seven-furlong sprint in 1:21.98.
In her first start since finishing third in the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga last August, the Michelle Nevin trainee strived to match a formidable field in her 4-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap, finishing fourth to stablemate Paulassilverlining and fellow next-out stakes winners Cavorting and Bar of Gold.
By the Moon had finished second in the Grade 1 Spinaway at Saratoga and won the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont in her juvenile year. As a 3-year-old, she won the Caesars Wish and was second in the Parx Oaks and Grade 1 Acorn.
By the Moon improves her lifetime record to four wins, three seconds and a third from 11 starts and earnings of $790,440.
“She’s a hard working filly, and she’s come back this year in great form,” said Nevin. “Her first race back this year, it’s always tough off the bench in a stake [Distaff Handicap] but we didn’t have too many options. It was good to get a race under her and she showed back up today.
“I’m going to keep my options open for the next couple of weeks but I think she can go further,” she continued. “The way the race setup today, there was a lot of speed in the race and we were in the one-hole. We were either going to have to gun her or sit back. Jose gave her a great ride.”
Bar of Gold was third, followed by Mayla, Pangburn and West Coast Chick to complete the order of finish.