06/29/2012 12:10PM

Belmont Park: C C's Pal avoids heavyheads in Bed o' Roses Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
C C's Pal (right) outduels Nicole H to win the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After C C’s Pal earned her first graded stakes victory in the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap last month, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. had a flexible plan to get the 5-year-old mare another one.

“We’ll just wing it, see where the good fillies are going, and try to duck them until we have to hit them,” he said.

Mission accomplished, for the most part. In the absence of Awesome Maria and It’s Tricky, who were each weighted at 125 pounds but will await richer spots, C C’s Pal will be the starting highweight in Sunday’s 56th running of the Grade 3, $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Handicap.

The seven-furlong race attracted six other fillies and mares, with C C’s Pal breaking from the outside. She will carry 122 pounds and concede 4 to 9 pounds to Catch a Thief, Catinatree, Derwin’s Star, Honchis’n Ponchis, Island Bound, and Twice the Lady.

After getting an easy lead in the Vagrancy, C C’s Pal faced a stiff challenge in the stretch from favored Nicole H and briefly lost the lead between calls before battling back on the rail to prevail by a short neck.

“At the sixteenth pole, I thought we were going to get beat, but we showed up,” Dutrow said.

Derwin’s Star and Island Bound are the most logical threats.

The rags-to-riches Derwin’s Star was claimed by Steve Klesaris for $10,000 as a 2-year-old. She improved steadily thereafter, to the point where she was second choice in last year’s Grade 1 Princess Rooney. Racing over a muddy track at Aqueduct in April, she toted 129 pounds to win a starter handicap by nearly 14 lengths.

Based at Parx Racing, Derwin’s Star comes off a good third in the My Juliet, a nose behind runner-up C C’s Pal.

On the same day C C’s Pal won the Vagrancy, Island Bound notched her first graded stakes tally as well, coming from next to last to take the Grade 3 Winning Colors at Churchill Downs.

“She certainly has gotten good . . . this year she’s matured,” trainer Ian Wilkes said.

Catinatree, an easy front-end allowance winner at Parx in her first start for Mike Hushion, is in with a feathery 113 pounds and may be the one to catch.

Twice the Lady, a Tony Dutrow claim for $62,500, tries tougher after an allowance win at Penn National.

“We know that she’s not going to be one of the favorites, but we have a very, very happy horse right now who thinks she’s the best thing that’s happened to horse racing,” Dutrow explained. “We’d like to take advantage of that frame of mind, and we’re hoping something good will happen.”