05/06/2011 4:46PM

Belmont's New York Stallion features return of Saltamontes


ELMONT, N.Y. – Fillies and mares are in the spotlight early and often on Sunday’s card at Belmont Park in seven races that include a trio of stakes on the main track – the $100,000 Park Avenue division of the New York Stallion at 6 1/2 furlongs, as well as a pair of $60,000 overnight stakes.

A field of seven 3-year-olds entered the New York Stallion race, won last year by Franny Freud, who went on to win the Grade 1 Prioress en route to being voted top New York-bred filly of 2010. While none among the sextet has shown that kind of ability thus far, Saltamontes showed promise in five starts as a 2-year-old, beginning with a debut win at Saratoga, followed by an overnight stakes win and a runner-up finish in the Maid of the Mist at Belmont’s fall meet.

Saltamontes will be making her first start since a third in the East View Stakes on Dec. 5 for Rudy Rodriguez.

“It looks like she’s grown over the winter,” Rodriguez said. “The distance should be fine. She’s fresh, and she ran well in her first race at Saratoga.”

Saltamontes will break from post six under Ramon Dominguez, outside of her two main rivals, Good Habits and Freuds On Holidays.

After running second in her debut against open maidens at 61-1 first out for John Hertler, Good Habits was a three-length maiden winner over Jackie Mo, who has subsequently won her maiden and first-level allowance conditions. In her first start against winners, the homebred daughter of Freud pressed the early pace and finished fourth in an overnight stakes on Aqueduct’s main track five weeks ago.

“We hope she’ll relax in the first part of the race,” Hertler said. “She wants to go fast. If you want her to go slow, you really have to work at it.”

David Cohen will ride Good Habits, who turned in a bullet half-mile workout for this.

Freuds On Holidays needed four tries on the inner dirt at Aqueduct to win her first-level allowance condition, but figures close if she merely maintains that form for Rick Dutrow Jr.

Kocher Girl, Lady On the Run, and Silky Me round out the field.

In the one-mile Wanda overnight stakes, Dance Quietly and Dixie City, a pair of homebreds from the estate of Edward P. Evans, have been established as slight 9-5 morning-line favorites over Ava K. in a six-horse field with five betting interests.

Dance Quietly, a half-sister to Saint Liam trained by Todd Pletcher, comes off the fastest race of her brief career, a third against older allowance rivals out of the Big A chute.

Dixie City, who captured the Grade 2 Demoiselle for Tony Dutrow last fall, makes her third start of the season after a pair of third-place finishes at Oaklawn Park in the Honeybee and the Instant Racing Stakes.

Ava K., who suffered her first loss when third as the favorite in the Comely Stakes, breaks from the rail.

In the six-furlong Nany overnight stakes, the multiple stakes winner Tar Heel Mom will be favored over six rivals.

Tar Heel Mom, who won the Grade 2 Distaff last year, has won two of her first three starts as a 6-year-old for Stanley Hough.

Worstcasescenario, the 2009 Adironack winner, comes off a sharp allowance score at Gulfstream Park for Rick Violette Jr. in her only start of the year.