06/01/2011 2:25PM

Belmont: Ava K. may be cut above rest in Wandering Cloud


ELMONT, N.Y. – In a match-up likely to separate contenders from pretenders among 3-year-old New York-bred filly sprinters, Ava K., Miss Valentine, Sentimental Lass, and Yawkey Way clash in Friday’s $60,000 Wandering Cloud overnight stakes at Belmont Park.

Those four are stakes winners who carry 122 pounds under the allowance conditions of the 6 1/2-furlong race, giving four pounds to Fortheloveof Anna and Hot Danger.

Until someone proves otherwise, Ava K. is the leader of the group. She has been odds-on in three starts against New York-breds and has won them all by open lengths, the latest a three-length score over Hot Danger in the Proud Puppy overnight stakes at a mile and 70 yards.
Ava K. will look to get back in the win column after a pair of third-place finishes against open company in the Grade 3 Comely and the Wanda overnight stakes for trainer Mike Hushion.

After winning the Swirlaway last fall, and running second at odds-on in the East View Stakes at Aqueduct, Miss Valentine wintered at Payson Park with Christophe Clement. Making her first start of the year in the Wanda, she rallied mildly to finish fourth behind Ava K.

Sentimental Lass will be a handful, based on her form at Belmont last fall, when she beat maidens by better than 10 lengths and came right back to take the Maid of the Mist on New York Showcase Day for trainer David Duggan.

Although Sentimental Lass went wire to wire in both of those victories, Duggan said he doesn’t believe the daughter of Freud is a speed-crazy individual.

“She doesn’t seem to be one-dimensional based on the way she’s training,” he said. “Her last three or four works have been very strong, and this is a great spot to bring her back in, where she doesn’t have to face the older fillies.”

Yawkey Way, who won the Ann Clare overnight stakes at Saratoga, makes her 3-year-old debut for Chad Brown, and has turned in several sharp works over the main track.

Todd Pletcher sends out two of the five 2-year-olds in race 2, a $60,000 maiden dash at five furlongs, as Behemoth breaks from the rail and Algorithms breaks outside.

Algorithms is a half-brother to the speedy sprint stakes winner Keyed Entry, but is “laid back and relaxed,” said assistant trainer Jonathan Thomas.

Nonno’s Boy, Demon’s Deputy, and Pure Grit also entered.