10/21/2010 3:13PM

Bandbox, Never Right Joey head Sleepy Hollow Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Never Right Joey, John Velazquez up, wins the High Rock Springs at Saratoga.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The absence of multiple stakes winner Bug Juice from the field has appeared to make Saturday’s $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes a wide-open affair.

Stakes winners Bandbox and Never Right Joey head the field of 11 set to contest seven furlongs over Belmont Park’s main track. Bandbox, a son of Tapit, has already handled seven furlongs, but that was around two turns in the Charles Town Juvenile on Sept. 18.

Despite breaking a step slowly, Bandbox roared to a 9 1/2-length victory in the Charles Town Juvenile, running seven furlongs in 1:25.60 while being geared down late by jockey Eric Camacho. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 86. That win came after he won his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Trainer Rodney Jenkins said He ran Bandbox on the turf because that was the race that was available when he had Bandbox ready to run. Bandbox had six weeks between that win and the Charles Town race and five weeks from that race to this one.

“This was a spot I picked out for him a month ago,” Jenkins said from Maryland. ‘He ran a very nice race in West Virginia on dirt. Hopefully, he can carry that over to the big track. He’s a big colt, he should cherish a mile track.”

Jenkins said his only concern regarding Bandbox is that the horse has a tendency to break a step slowly. “But he’s got tactical speed,” Jenkins said. “He’ll be just fine I think.”

Bandbox will break from post 6 under Ramon Dominguez.

Todd Pletcher entered three in the Sleepy Hollow led by Never Right Joey, who won his debut going 5 1/2 furlongs in the mud at Saratoga on July 24 and the High Rock Springs over a fast Saratoga track in late August.

“He’s done everything right so far, seems to be improving based his training,” Pletcher said. “He might be a horse that can step up into some open company spots here this winter.”

Hysterical Cat was beaten twice by Bug Juice in stakes at Finger Lakes after winning his debut impressively at Saratoga. Crea’s Law, Pletcher’s third starter, finished second to Hysterical Cat in that Aug. 8 race before coming back to win a maiden race by a neck on Sept. 5.

Bambi Bound, a stablemate of Bug Juice, won a maiden race in his second start after having Lasix and blinkers added. Pin Number, a son of Langfuhr, is a half-brother to Empire Showcase Stakes winners Dr. V’s Magic and Organizer.

Saltamontes heads Maid of the Mist field

Saltamontes, winner of the Friendly Beauty Stakes here on Sept. 23, is the horse to beat in Saturday’s $100,000 Maid of the Mist Stakes for New York-bred juvenile fillies going seven furlongs.

A daughter of Wheelaway, Saltamontes has won both of her first two starts going six furlongs in front-running fashion. Trainer Rudy Rodriguez believes she could handle seven furlongs and could sit behind horses if need be.

“I’ve been schooling her a lot, getting dirt in her face,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think that will be a problem for her.”

Ramon Dominguez rides Saltamontes from post 7.

Hessonite came from well off the pace to win a one-mile maiden race by 8 1/4 lengths on dirt on Sept. 18. She would most likely benefit from an expected strong early pace on Saturday. Sentimental Lass, a 10 1/2-length maiden winner on Sept. 26, is likely the main speed in this field.

“The family is all European and all grass,” trainer David Donk said. “I ran her first time out on grass and she was real green.” Noting that Hessonite is a daughter of Freud, Donk said, “they seem to run on anything. It’s a good spot to test her.”

Floating Alone won a maiden race on dirt in her second start, after finishing fourth in her debut on dirt at Saratoga. After acting up in the gate, she broke slowly that day and didn’t change leads in the stretch.

Upper East Sider was a sharp eight-length winner of a maiden turf race on Sept. 18 at Belmont after finishing fifth against open company in the slop on Aug. 5. If she can handle a fast dirt track, she could be dangerous at a price for trainer Pat Kelly and jockey Jean-Luc Samyn.