05/29/2010 12:00AM

Check the Label exits win in key race


ELMONT, N.Y. - As a 2-year-old, Check the Label did not give her trainer, Graham Motion, the impression she would turn into a graded stakes winner. But since learning to relax, Check the Label has surpassed Motion's expectations and on Monday she will seek her second consecutive graded victory in the $150,000 Sands Point Stakes at Belmont Park.

The Grade 2 Sands Point, run at 1 1/8 miles over the inner turf, drew a competitive field of eight, including Grade 1 winner Negligee.

Check the Label settled in fourth behind a quick pack and then stormed home a solid winner in the Grade 3 Appalachian at Keeneland on April 15. Three of the seven horses she beat came out of the race to win listed stakes elsewhere.

Her victory in the Appalachian came after a fourth-place finish in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream, where Motion said his filly didn't settle.

Motion said training in the serene atmosphere of the Fair Hill Training Center has done wonders for Check the Label.

"She seems very settled to me," Motion said. "I could never imagine last year she'd be this type of filly."

Check the Label ran fourth to Khancord Kid in the Herecomesthebride, and she faces Khancord Kid again on Monday. Khancord Kid trained so well on dirt that trainer John Kimmel wanted to give her a try on that surface and ran her in the May 15 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, where she set the pace and finished fifth. Kimmel said jockey Rajiv Maragh told him things got tight on his filly along the rail around the turn and she "folded shop."

Though Khancord Kid won the Herecomesthebride on the lead, Kimmel is hoping for an off-the-pace trip on Monday.

"I think she's a filly that can track,'' Kimmel said.

More Is Better won a maiden race pressing fast fractions and is likely to be part of the pace. Negligee, who won the Grade 1 Alcibiades at 2, is another who is likely to be forwardly placed. Last month, in her turf debut, Negligee finished second to Dynazaper in the Edgewood Stakes at Churchill. Negligee was a bit rank early on, perhaps fighting the restraint of her jockey, Javier Castellano.

Trainer John Terranova took the blinkers off Negligee for the Edgewood, but is putting them back on for the Sands Point.

"She's trained really well with and without," said Terranova. "We decided to go back to what she had always been in before." Terranova also has made a rider switch to John Velazquez.

Terranova said that Negligee's seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland could be attributed the fact the filly was in season the day of the race and cramped up badly.

Hit It Rich tries turf for the first time after winning a maiden race on synthetic and an allowance race in the slop. Strike It Rich, Crescenda, and Ultimate Class are also all coming off first-level allowance wins.