06/21/2012 2:46PM

Belmont Park: Believe You Can, Contested set for a duel in Mother Goose Stakes

Barbara D. Livingston
Contested, shown training under Javier Castellano, enters the Mother Goose off a five-length win in the Acorn.

ELMONT, N.Y. – They are clearly the two best horses in the field. They have similar running styles, and they will be lined up right next to each other in the starting gate.

So, from start to finish it figures to be quite a duel when Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can and Acorn winner Contested square off against each other in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.

Believe You Can is coming off a three-quarter-length victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, a race in which she was within a length of pacesetter Broadway’s Alibi early before outfinishing that rival in the final sixteenth.

Contested is coming off a five-length victory in the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont, a race in which she jumped to the front from the outset, ran six furlongs in 1:09.32, and still finished in 23.29 seconds while running a mile in 1:34.61.

It was the fourth consecutive victory for Contested, who was stretching out from seven furlongs to a mile. Saturday, she will attempt to carry her speed 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

“She has brilliant speed, her races have been pretty impressive,” said Bob Baffert, who trains Contested for his wife, Jill. “She’s getting better and better. Every time she runs, she shows more brilliance.”

Contested, under Javier Castellano, will break from post 2. Believe You Can, under Rosie Napravnik, will break from the rail.

Believe You can demonstrated in the Fair Grounds Oaks that a speed duel may not be a problem for her. In that 1 1/16-mile race run around two turns, Believe You can battled Colonial Empress through a half-mile in 46.47, put that one away, and then held off a late run from Summer Applause.

“We can use ours a little harder,” said Larry Jones, who trains Believe You Can for owner/breeder Brereton Jones. “Mine never has acted like she’s ever been a short horse. By all rights, that race should have been suicidal for her, and she hung on.”

Like Contested, Believe You Can has shown an affinity for Belmont, having won the Grade 3 Tempted here last fall. She also worked a solid five furlongs here in 59.75 seconds Monday.

Three other horses were entered for the Mother Goose, but barring a change of heart, Wildcat’s Smile is likely to scratch and run in Sunday’s $125,000 Bouwerie Stakes here.

That would leave Zo Impressive and Disposablepleasure to try and run down the top two.

Zo Impressive was second to Contested in the Acorn, but she was no serious threat. Trainer Tom Albertrani indicated that Zo Impressive would likely sit a little closer than she did in the Acorn.

Displosablepleasure won the Grade 2 Demoiselle at Aqueduct as a 2-year-old and finished second to stablemate In Lingerie in the Black-Eyed Susan last month at Pimlico. Ramon Dominguez rides for Todd Pletcher.

The Mother Goose will be shown live on MSG-Plus in a one-hour telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern. It is race 10 on an 11-race program and is the third leg of a pick-four wager that has a guaranteed pool of $350,000.

Mother Goose S. (G1), Post Time: 5:47 ET Saturday

Purse: $300,000; 1 1/16 miles





ML Odds


Believe You Can

L. Jones

R. Napravnik




B. Baffert

J. Castellano




T. Pletcher

R. Dominguez



Wildcat's Smile

D. Galluscio

J. Lezcano



Zo Impressive

T. Albertrani

R. Maragh