06/09/2016 4:40PM

Bode's Dream leads all the way in Astoria

Barbara D. Livingston
Bode's Dream set the pace en route to a win in Thursday's Astoria Stakes at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – On an afternoon during which a stiff headwind down the backstretch hindered front-runners, Bode’s Dream was good enough to lead throughout and draw away to a convincing 2 3/4- length victory over an unlucky China Grove in Thursday’s $200,000 Astoria for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.

The 5 1/2-furlong Astoria did lose one of its key players when Olive Branch fell into the rail in the saddling enclosure and was scratched just prior to the post parade. She was not seriously injured.

Bode’s Dream broke alertly under John Velazquez and set the pace from outside Harland’s Thunder, posting early splits of 22.36 seconds into the wind for her opening quarter and 45.56 for the half. Bode’s Dream shook free into the stretch, repulsed a mild try from Golden Mischief nearing the furlong grounds, and was not seriously threatened thereafter.

China Grove stumbled badly immediately after the break, raced wide throughout, and rallied mildly to be second-best. Anna’s Bandit dropped to the rear of the field, trailed into the stretch, and then finished willingly while never switching off her left lead down the stretch.

Bode’s Dream, a son of Bodemeister, won for the second time in as many starts, having won her maiden as the prohibitive favorite while making her debut four weeks earlier at Gulfstream Park. She completed the distance in 1:03.66 and paid $6.30 as the tepid choice in the scratched-reduced field of seven fillies.

“In these type of races, everyone is sort of in the same boat,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Each horse ran one time, won, and most of the horses that have won have been on the pace. So things have to shake out and see who the fastest of the fast is.”

Pletcher said he was aware that speed had not been very effective to that point in the card.

“I was kind of concerned the way the track was playing,” he said. “It didn’t seem like speed was holding up very well with the very strong headwind down the backside.

“But I just told Johnny, in the paddock, let’s not overthink it, because we’re only going 5 1/2 [furlongs] and you’re not running that far into the wind. She just caught a flyer at the start, was on the lead right away, and Johnny did a smart thing and took advantage of it.”

Pletcher said Bode’s Dream, who is owned by St. Elias Stable, would  likely make her next start in the Schuylerville on opening day at Saratoga.