Updated on 06/22/2011 5:47PM

Belmont Park: Joyful Victory inherits role as favorite in Mother Goose

Barbara D. Livingston
Joyful Victory has inherited the role of favorite for Saturday’s Grade 1 Mother Goose.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Larry Jones knows eventually his 3-year-old filly Joyful Victory will have to face Plum Pretty again. But Jones is not fretting the fact that the rematch will not take place in Saturday’s Grade 1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park.

Plum Pretty beat Joyful Victory by 3 1/4 lengths in the Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs and was expected to ship here from Southern California for the Mother Goose. But she developed a temperature that kept her home. Her defection as well as that of Black-Eyed Susan winner Royal Delta (bruised foot) leaves Joyful Victory a solid favorite against six rivals in Saturday’s Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles.

“Somewhere down the line, we’re going to have to hook Plum Pretty in order to take the title away from her,” said Jones, referring to the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading 3-year-old filly. “But as far as trying to go into this race, I’m not sorry she’s not in there. I’m not saying we’re glad they’re not in there, but if that’s in their best interests, then I’m glad they’re not there.”

Plum Pretty was entered in Saturday's Hollywood Oaks at Hollywood Park.

Joyful Victory began the year as the star of the 3-year-old filly division, with blow-out victories in the Grade 3 Honeybee and Grade 2 Fantasy at Oaklawn Park. Jones felt his filly may have been compromised by aninside trip in the Kentucky Oaks, in which she finished fourth as the 2-1 favorite in a field of 13.

Joyful Victory returned to Delaware Park following the Oaks and has breezed three times, including a five-furlong move in 1:00.40, a best of 17 over what Jones described as a “really dull” track.

The only other stakes winners in the Mother Goose field are Salty Strike, who won the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 4, and Victoria’s Wildcat, who won the Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs last month. If she runs, Victoria’s Wildcat would be wheeling back two weeks after finishing fourth to It’s Tricky in the Acorn.

Trainer Ken McPeek had the Mother Goose on Salty Strike’s itinerary since she won the Dogwood at Churchill by 3 3/4 lengths. Salty Strike was beaten 15 lengths by Joyful Victory in the Honeybee, but that 1 1/16-mile race was run around two turns.

“I don’t think she liked the two turns,” McPeek said. “We backed her down to one turn. This might be a stretch for her, too. We may find ourselves going back to sprinting.”

The defection of Plum Pretty prompted trainer Tom Albertrani to enter maiden winner My Assets in the field.

Buster’s Ready “is coming off a big race and [Joyful Victory] looks like she’s definitely the horse to beat,” Albertrani said. “For us, it’s a big step up, but we’re trying to be optimistic that we can hopefully pick up a little black type.”

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Black-Eyed Susan runner-up Buster’s Ready, also entered recent maiden winner R Holiday Mood.

Shared Account to miss New York

NYRA’s bad luck was not relegated to the Mother Goose.

Shared Account, the defending Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf winner, was withdrawn from consideration for Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 New York Stakes by trainer Graham Motion.

“She’s just not 100 percent, and I wouldn’t feel good about running her on Saturday,” Motion said. “I’m disappointed we can’t run. Seems to be the story of my life.”

Last week, Animal Kingdom, the Kentucky Derby winner trained by Motion, was diagnosed with a slight fissure, or small crack, at the tip of the cannon bone and is out of training. Motion said that Animal Kingdom is grazing and stands in a saltwater spa every day. Motion said that the spa has the same effect as standing in a tub of ice, which helps keeps any inflammation down. Motion said Animal Kingdom is due to get more X-rays next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, without Shared Account, Sheepshead Bay winner Hibaayeb heads the field of seven entered in the New York at 1 1/4 miles over the inner turf. Last year, Hibaayeb won the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at 1 1/4 miles.

Hibaayeb, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable, drew post 7 and will carry high weight of 123 pounds under John Velazquez. She will be conceding seven pounds to a field that includes Sheepshead Bay runner-up Giants Play, Lo Cloche, Prize Catch, Trix in the City, Freedom Rings, and Zagora.

Jersey Town nearing return to races

Jersey Town, upset winner of the Grade 1 Cigar Mile last fall, could be ready to return to the races by the beginning of Saratoga, her connections said Wednesday.

Jersey Town underwent ankle surgery during the winter, but has recently returned to the work tab, breezing three times in the last two weeks. That included a half-mile move in 47.65 seconds Monday morning over the Belmont main track.

In that move, Jersey Town went his first quarter in 22.88 seconds as he broke off about six lengths behind an Albertrani-trained horse that was breezing, and he caught that horse before the quarter pole.

Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg, said that she is hopeful there could be a race for Jersey Town early in the Saratoga meet as a prep for the Grade 1 Forego at the end of the meet. She said Jersey Town would not be pointed to the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt on Aug. 7.

Smullen said races such as the Forego, Kelso at Belmont, and Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill in November are goals that she, Tagg, and owner Charles Fipke have for Jersey Town.

“Right now, he’s on schedule,” Smullen said.

Jones considers options for Payton d’Oro

Jones said that Payton d’Oro came out of her runner-up finish to Awesome Maria in last Saturday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps in good shape and that there are several options for the filly’s next start, including the Grade 2, $750,000 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park on July 16 or the Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap at Saratoga on July 31.

Jones is already planning to run Havre de Grace in the DelCap, but said he would run Payton d’Oro if the size of the field isn’t large.

“Second in this race is as much as winning the race in New York,” Jones said.