05/04/2011 2:09PM

Belmont: Pletcher filly one to catch in sprint


ELMONT, N.Y. – A pair of $54,000 optional claimers at six furlongs highlight Friday’s program.

Seven fillies and mares entered race 3, including the Sunny Meadow Farm entry of Kissa Melissa and Spina, a Mitch Friedman-trained duo that has combined for 73 starts long-familiar duo trained by Mitch Friedman that have combined for 73 starts.

The Todd Pletcher-trained Stormandaprayer, who wired maidens and set a fast pace in the Prioress in two starts at Belmont’s 2010 spring-summer meet for former trainer Jimmy Toner, will be the one to catch under Cornelio Velasquez, who won the brief spring meet title at Aqueduct and led the standings heading into the first full week of racing here.

Does It Every Time finished three lengths behind Stormandaprayer in their March 25 clash but returned four weeks later to beat an easier group in a career-best performance. She runs first time off a $25,000 claim by David Jacobson and has been entered for the optional $50,000 claim price, as were 13-time winner Kissa Melissa and Speckledbird.

After winning back-to-back allowance races at Tampa Bay Downs at the turn of the year for Bill Mott, Speckledbird was fourth in a starter handicap and most recently ran third in an off-the-turf dash at Gulfstream Park.

Erin Rose and Beauty Is a Beast come off first-level allowance victories at Gulfstream and Parx Racing, respectively.

Eight older sprinters entered race 8, with the uncoupled pair of Starforaday and Ricoriatoa book-ending the field from the rail and the outside post for Gary Contessa.

Starforaday was established as the slight 7-2 morning-line choice, but his 8-year-old debut will have to wait for another day.

“He’s been stymied in his attempt at a comeback once again,” said Contessa, who has won six races from 26 starts with the deep-closing Starforaday since taking over his training in 2008.

Ricoriatoa flattened out when run back on short rest first time off a claim by Contessa on St. Patrick’s Day, but he figures to go well off a seven-week freshening; he won off a two-month break to begin the year.

“It’s a tough race, but I like the outside post, and he should run well fresh,” Contessa said.

Who’s the Cowboy, a 9-year-old trained by Chris Englehart, makes his 62nd start and would surpass the $1 million earnings plateau should he win for the 18th time.

Hewitts, Hillswick, Jack On the Rocks, Masala, and Saint Daimon also entered.