Updated on 09/16/2011 7:02AM

Clement's switch opens the Orchid


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Up until entries closed for the $200,000 Orchid Handicap early Friday afternoon the Grade 2 race appeared to be a one-sided affair with Moon Queen appearing almost unbeatable coming off her easy victory in The Very One Handicap five weeks earlier.

But when trainer Christophe Clement made a last minute decision to hold Moon Queen out of the 1 1/2-mile Orchid, the race suddenly became wide open and one of the better betting events on Sunday's 10-race card at Gulfstream Park.

Clement, who has won the last three editions of the Orchid and four overall, will now be represented in the race by Julie Jalouse, a 4-year-old Kris S. filly who will be making her first start in this country and first since late October in Ireland. Although she is a listed stakes winner in Europe and training well for her U.S. debut, even Clement admits she faces a tough assignment trying to stay 12 furlongs against graded stakes company coming off a five-month layoff.

Clement's Payson Park neighbor and rival Bill Mott will send down a key contender for the Orchid, the steadily improving Refugee, who enters the race off a pair of allowance victories over the course. While she has never tried the distance, Refugee did hold her own going 11 furlongs on a couple of occasions last summer at Saratoga. Jorge Chavez will fill in for regular rider Jerry Bailey, who was to ride on Saturday's Dubai World Cup card.

A third Payson Park resident, Sweetest Thing, may be the slight favorite in Moon Queen's absence. Trained by Roger Attfield, Sweetest Thing finished second in her two previous starts, the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap at Calder and Grade 2 Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct. She is already a stakes winner at 1 1/2 miles and has the tactical speed for force the pace throughout under Mike Guidry.

The remainder of the field consists of Ready, Jennasietta, Bail Money, Ruff, Guillotine, and Tap Dance.

Ready is from the barn of giant killer Allen Jerkens, who upset last week's Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes with Dust Me Off. Ready is an improving filly who comes off a troubled second under second-level allowance conditions but has yet to win beyond nine furlongs.

Jennasietta outfinished Sweetest Thing for second money in The Very One but was a disappointing fifth when she turned back to a mile in the One Dreamer Stakes last weekend.

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