Bell's the One, a multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire from Lothenbach Stables, leads a talented field of nine in the Grade 2, $200,000 Honorable Miss Handicap , a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday, July 28.
Trained by Neil Pessin, Bell's the One, who boasts a record of 18-8-3-2, captured the 2020 Grade 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill Downs by a nose over Serengeti Empress. Her graded stakes ledger also includes scores in the 2019 Grade 2 Raven Run at Keeneland and last year's Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill.
The 5-year-old Majesticperfection bay enters from a three-quarter length score in the Roxelana under returning rider Corey Lanerie on June 19 at Churchill.
||Ain't No Elmers
||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
||Don't Call Me Mary
||Honey I'm Good
||Ricardo Santana, Jr.
||Bell's the One
"I'm really not scared of any sprint filly in the country right now, to be honest," Pessin said. "It's just a question of if she runs her race. If she does, she's going to be tough to beat no matter who shows up. I respect them all, but I don't fear any of them. I'm very confident in my filly's abilities."
Bell's the One rated closer to the pace last out in the 6 1/2-furlong Roxelana before popping outside rivals to secure the win.
"I'm trying to get her a little more that way, so we're not so pace dependent," Pessin said. "In her last race, they didn't go fast early but we weren't far off of it. She was stuck in between horses - there were three across the track - and Corey let her suck back a little bit so she could get to the outside. When she turned for home, she just kicked on. She won by three-quarters, but it was a handy three-quarters."
Bell's the One launched her current campaign with a narrow loss to Kimari in the Grade 1 Madison on April 3 at Keeneland ahead of a fourth-place finish in her title defense in the Grade 1 Derby City Distaff at Churchill in May.
"Kimari beat us at Keeneland and it was my mare's first out of the year," Pessin said. "We also got stuck on the inside and didn't get to bounce outside. If we'd got outside, I think we'd have beat her that day."
Bell's the One breezed a bullet half-mile in 47 flat on July 20 over the Arlington Park synthetic and will arrive in Saratoga on Sunday.
"It was an OK work. She went a little faster in the first part than what I wanted," Pessin said. "She finished good and did it fairly handily. It didn't take a lot out of her. Fitness wise, I don't have any issues. It's just a matter of if she handles the shipping and likes the track."
Lanerie retains the mount from the outermost post 9.
"He knows her well and rode her excellent last time," Pessin said.
Godolphin homebred Lake Avenue enters in search of her first graded stakes win since the 2019 Grade 2 Demoiselle in the final start of her 2-year-old campaign.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 4-year-old Tapit chestnut was winless in four starts last year but has enjoyed a resurgence in 2021, posting wins in an optional-claimer at Gulfstream in February ahead of a 6 3/4-length score in the Heavenly Prize Invitational in March at the Big A.
Last out, Lake Avenue made the lead at the stretch call of the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses but could not stave off Estilo Talentoso, who prevailed by a neck in the seven-furlong sprint on a sloppy Belmont main track on June 4.
Junior Alvarado will pilot Lake Avenue from post 4.
Dennis Narlinger's graded-stakes placed Sadie Lady, a 5-year-old New York-bred daughter of Freud, boasts a record of 20-8-1-3 with purse earnings of $406,322.
The speedy mare won the open-company Correction in her seasonal debut at Aqueduct in March ahead of a strong second in the Grade 3 Vagrancy on May 8 at Belmont. Last out, Sadie Lady went gate-to-wire in the six-furlong Dancin Renee for state-breds.
Trainer Rob Atras said Sadie Lady, who breezed a half-mile in 49.26 Friday on the Saratoga main track, may consider waiting for the state-bred Union Avenue Handicap on August 19.
"We breezed her this morning and she went really well. It was just an easy half with a nice little gallop out," Atras said. "We're probable to run but there's also a New York-bred stake in just over three weeks, so we'll talk it over with the owner."
Atras said Sadie Lady is at her best on the engine.
"She runs her top race when she can get out front and dictate it a little bit," Atras said.
Jose Ortiz retains the mount from post 3.
Almost Heaven Stables' Honey I'm Good enters from a neck win in the six-furlong Regret, contested at six furlongs over a muddy Monmouth Park main track on July 3.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the 5-year-old Shackleford mare was a gate-to-wire winner of the six-furlong Harmony Lodge over muddy going at Belmont last June.
Honey I'm Good will emerge from post 7 under Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Truth Hurts, trained and co-owned by Chad Summers with J Stables, added blinkers and romped to a 5 3/4-length score last out under Luis Saez in the off-the-turf Perfect Sting at one mile over a sloppy and sealed Belmont main track on July 3.
The 4-year-old Ontario-bred daughter of Tonalist tried her luck at longer distances last season, including a third in the 1 1/16-mile Bison City at Woodbine.
Truth Hurts breezed a half-mile in 48.54 on July 20 on the Saratoga main track under Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Summers said he is cautiously optimistic after her last-out win.
"I think it was good for her. The first time with blinkers on she was more aggressive," Summers said. "She came out of the gate good, and sat a perfect trip. I'm proud of how she finished up and she galloped out strong. She came out of the race like nothing. I know we'll be a big price on the board, but she's doing so well. Irad came out and breezed her the other day. He liked her and it gives me a lot of confidence going into Wednesday."
Truth Hurts, who graduated at first asking sprinting 6 1/2-furlongs in December 2019 at the Big A, will shorten up to six furlongs for the first time.
"I think seven [furlongs] is probably her game, but she can go six," Summers said. "With Sadie Lady and a few of the others with speed in there, I'm hoping we can work out a good trip."
Rounding out a competitive field are Ain't No Elmers [post 1, Adam Beschizza], Reagan's Edge [post 2, Jose Lezcano], Don't Call Me Mary [post 6, Saez], and Miss Mosaic [post 8, Manny Franco].
The Honorable Miss is slated as Race 9 on Wednesday's 10-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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