10/24/2013 4:41PM

Belmont: Galloping Giraffe proves good sub for My Miss Aurelia in Punkin Pie

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Galloping Giraffe rallies from last under Rajiv Maragh to win the Punkin Pie Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Even though he had to scratch probable odds-on favorite My Miss Aurelia from the race, trainer Todd Pletcher was still able to win Thursday’s $100,000 Punkin Pie Stakes at Belmont Park.

Galloping Giraffe, who was entered primarily to help the race fill for My Miss Aurelia, rallied from last, about a dozen lengths back, to run down pacesetting Classic Point to win the Punkin Pie by a neck. It was 4 1/4 lengths back to Crespano in third. Promise Me a Cat was eased.

My Miss Aurelia, the champion filly of 2011 had to scratch after sustaining a foot injury known as a shed frog, according to Pletcher. My Miss Aurelia, who hasn’t started since March, will now likely train up to the Grade 2, $300,000 Go for Wand Handicap at Aqueduct on Nov. 29.

Galloping Giraffe could very well join My Miss Aurelia in that spot as she once again demonstrated a strong late kick under Rajiv Maragh to get the victory. Though it appears as though she will run all day, Galloping Giraffe may prove more effective in one-turn races.

“One of the things we talked about is she might be better shorter because you get a little more pace to run at,” said Pletcher, who trains Galloping Giraffe for owner Mike Repole. “She loves Belmont, with the sweeping turns. It’s a good setup for her.”

Galloping Giraffe, a daughter of Tapit, covered seven furlongs in 1:24.07 and returned $7.50 to win.

The Punkin Pie was one of three stakes on Thursday’s card.

While Maragh came from last to win the Punkin Pie, he guided Joha to a front-running nose victory over the troubled-trip North Slope in the $100,000 Basket Weave Stakes for 3-year-olds on the turf.

Joha ($11.80), who hadn’t won since taking the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in 2012, set fractions of 24.43 seconds, 48.78, 1:12.99, and 1:35.63, and covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.28. He benefited from traffic encountered by North Slope, under Luis Saez in upper stretch. Once he found room, North Slope closed swiftly but fell just short.

Joha is a son of Johar owned by Wade Wacker and trained by Tom Albertrani.

In the $100,000 Island Sun for New York-bred 2-year-old fillies, May Shares, under Cornelio Velasquez, took control in upper stretch and drew off to win by 4 1/2 lengths over I Got Id.

May Shares, a daughter of Stonesider trained by Linda Rice for A Shares Stables, covered the mile on turf in 1:35.83 and returned $7.60.