09/23/2013 2:38PM

Belmont Park: Baffle Me escapes rival's shadow in Jazzy Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Baffle Me (above) has run second to Grade 1 winner Samitar in two of her last three starts.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The distance may not be ideal, but the competition could be just right for Baffle Me when she heads a field of six entered in Wednesday’s $100,000 Jazzy Stakes at Belmont Park.

After running into the Grade 1 winner Samitar in two of her last three starts, Baffle Me meets no such accomplished rival in the Jazzy, carded at seven furlongs over the Widener turf course. Baffle Me is one of two stakes winners in the field, the other being My Jopia, who won a New York Stallion Stakes race 13 months ago at Saratoga.

Baffle Me, whose speed makes her dangerous at any distance, has won at as short as a mile. Her stakes win came last October at Belmont in the Banner Gala at 1 1/8 miles.

“I thought it was a pretty good spot other than there are a couple of more sprint specialists in there, but seven-eighths is a tricky distance for them, too,” said Mark Hennig, trainer of Baffle Me and of Jazzy, the Argentine-bred stakes-winning mare for whom this race is named. “We’re kind of meeting them in the middle is the way I’m looking at it. Some of them might not want to go seven-eighths; we might not want to back up to seven-eighths.”

Baffle Me twice finished second to Samitar in overnight stakes. In between, she finished fifth in a one-mile overnight stakes at Saratoga, where she dueled on the lead through very hot fractions. Hennig said Baffle Me also might have been compromised by poor behavior in the paddock.

“She really came undone that day in the paddock,” Hennig said. “She was already keyed up, and we schooled her a lot and she was great the next time she ran. She has a tendency to want to be in front no matter how fast they go.”

My Jopia has won her last two turf sprints at Belmont, but hasn’t been out since July 14, closing day at the Belmont summer meet.

Corsage, trained by Christophe Clement, cuts back to seven furlongs after a good effort when beaten a half-length in a third-level allowance race at Saratoga, her first start off a-seven-month layoff.

Moment in Dixie, trained by Jimmy Toner, makes her turf debut after running the first nine races of her career on dirt. Toner said he felt this was a good time to experiment, adding that Moment in Dixie has galloped on the grass and her mother, Ellie’s Moment, won on turf.

“I had her on the grass gallops, but it didn’t work out to where I had her breeze on it,” Toner said. “She seemed to handle it. Her mother did win on the grass, then I got excited and ran her in the Garden City, caught soft ground, and she didn’t run well. This is something we want to try.”

Free as a Bird, who won her maiden going seven furlongs on the turf here last fall, and Sounds of the City, whose specialty seems to be 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, complete the field.