05/23/2012 4:27PM

Belmont notes: Jackson Bend ready for Met Mile

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Jackson Bend
Jackson Bend is one of five Grade 1 winners headed to the Met Mile.

While trainer Nick Zito won’t be participating in the Belmont Stakes, he will have a major player for Monday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in Jackson Bend.
Jackson Bend is one of five Grade 1 winners pointing to the Met Mile, which is expected to draw a six-horse field when entries are taken and post positions assigned on Friday.

Jackson Bend is coming off a nose victory over Caleb’s Posse in last month’s Grade 1 Carter at seven furlongs. Caleb’s Posse is also pointing to the Met.

Jackson Bend won the Grade 3 Hal’s Hope at a mile in January before finishing third behind Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 10.

The last time Jackson Bend raced at a mile at Belmont, he finished second to Uncle Mo in the Grade 2 Kelso last October. Jackson Bend earned a career-best 112 Beyer Speed Figure for that effort.

“If he can come back to the Uncle Mo race we have a shot,” Zito said.

Principal Role gets right distance

When trainer Bill Mott ran Principal Role in the Grade 3 Beaugay here on May 5, he knew the 1 1/16 miles was going to be short for the mare, a 5-year-old daughter of Empire Maker.

Sure enough, she finished third, beaten 2 1/4 lengths by Winter Memories.

Saturday, Principal Role will stretch out to 1 3/8 miles in the Grade 2, $200,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes for fillies and mares.

Principal Role drew post 6 in a field of 10 entered for the turf. There are also four entered in the event the race is transferred to the main track.

“I think the added distance should help her,” Mott said. “She’s been quite effective 10 furlongs over there.”

Principal Role, a half-brother to the Grade 1 winner Midships, made the first 13 starts of her career in Great Britain where she was a listed stakes winner at 1 1/4 miles.

Mott noted that Principal Role can be “temperamental,” and he’s happy that she has spent the last month at Belmont Park and gets to run out of her own stall without having a recent ship.

The Sheepshead Bay drew a solid field, including the uncoupled entry of Aruna and Hasay from trainer Graham Motion. Also entered are Aqsaam, Distorted Legacy, Hit it Rich, Magical Cat, Mystical Star, Senada and Woodford Belle.

Nicks eyes N.Y. success

Trainer Ralph Nicks has made New York his home for the time being, bringing an 18-horse string to Saratoga.

He has gotten off to a nice start at the Belmont meet, with 2 wins from 5 starters and had a contender in Button Girl entered in a second-level allowance on Thursday.

Monday, he will send out intriguing Aubby K in the Grade 1, $300,000 Acorn Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Aubby K, a daughter of Street Sense, won her debut here by 15 1/2 lengths. Coming back in seven weeks, Aubby K ran in the Grade 2 Pocahontas at Churchill Downs, where she finished fourth, beaten 2 3-4 lengths.

In her first start in five months, Aubby K won a first-level allowance by nearly 10 lengths going 6 1-2 furlongs at Gulfstream.

“We were 2 3/4 lengths behind On Fire Baby at the Pocahontas and we were hooked every step of the way,” Nicks said. “She put away two or three challenges that day and just got tired the last sixteenth. Talent-wise she fits. Will she run the distance? We’ll see on Monday.”

Others pointing to the Acorn include Contested, Hard Mystery, and Zo Impressive. Funny Proposition and Lady Cohiba are possible.