02/29/2012 4:57PM

Aqueduct: Maple Forest well drawn for Bold Brat Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Maple Forest ships in from Florida for Friday’s $75,000 Bold Brat Stakes at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Three Florida shippers and one from Southern California helped fill Friday’s $75,000 Bold Brat Stakes for fillies and mares going six furlongs at Aqueduct.

Maple Forest, trained by Todd Pletcher, and Final Mesa, from Wesley Ward’s barn, arrived from south Florida on Wednesday and look to be not only the speed of the race but the two top contenders in the seven-horse field.

Maple Forest makes her first start in five months, or since she finished second to Roman Treasure in the Positive Gal Stakes at Belmont Park. In that race and in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga where she finished second, Maple Forest dueled through hot early fractions. She broke from the rail in both races and had little choice but to go to the lead.

On Friday, Maple Forest drew the outside under Ramon Dominguez. Three starts back, when breaking from the outside, Maple Forest won the Dearly Precious Stakes at Monmouth.

“She’s training well, she acts like she’s ready to go off the layoff,” Pletcher said Wednesday. “Great post. With that post, it gives Ramon options to survey what’s going on. She’s certainly fast enough to be on the lead.”

If Maple Forest isn’t on the lead, then she’ll be tracking Final Mesa. Final Mesa won the Grade 3 Old Hat Stakes at Gulfstream 14 months ago, but has only run twice since. Ward said Final Mesa bled when she finished fourth in the Miss Preakness last May and was turned out for the remainder of 2011.

Ward brought Final Mesa back in an optional claiming race Jan. 20 at Gulfstream, where she finished fifth in a seven-horse field.

“In her works before that race, she didn’t show a lot of life to her, she lost her sizzle,” Ward said. “She ran like she worked, just kind of blah. Her works since the race have been eye-catching. She’s been lighting it up.”

Ward said if the old Final Mesa shows up, he isn’t worried about the rest of the field.

“If she fires her race, she’s one of the fastest fillies in the country,” Ward said. “If she doesn’t show up, she doesn’t show up, but if she does I’m not concerned with any of the horses in the race.”

Streaker, trained by Shug McGaughey, finished a dull fifth in the Correction here Feb. 4. She shipped back to Florida and has returned for another shot at a stakes victory.

Dontbeshy I’ll Buy comes in from Southern California, where she finished second in an optional claimer, her first start on dirt.

Honchis ’n Ponchis, Golden Mystery, and Love That Dance, the second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers from the Correction are back in this spot.