10/26/2007 11:00PM

Coco Belle cruises in Miss Woodford

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - It would be fair to say that the early pace in the $200,000 Miss Woodford Stakes was snappy. It might even be fair to say that the early pace in the Miss Woodford was insane. But even after knocking out an opening quarter-mile in a mind-bending 20.97 seconds and whistling through a half-mile in 43.36, Coco Belle had no trouble holding off all comers in the stretch of the six-furlong race.

In fact, there really were no comers, with the field shape remaining mainly unchanged in the final furlong. Coco Belle won by two lengths over longshot Intentional Fever, who had pressed the blistering pace but easily held second. Control System rallied moderately for third.

Coco Belle paid $13.40 to win and made pretty good sense in the Miss Woodford. Based in California with trainer John Sadler, Coco Belle had made her last five starts either on a synthetic main track or a turf course, and it could be argued that she is a better horse on dirt - especially after the Miss Woodford. Over the winter, she won two Santa Anita dirt starts by more than 13 lengths combined and she had even broken through last out on the Santa Anita Cushion Track, winning a second-level allowance race by more than two lengths.

Saturday, jockey Garrett Gomez put her right on the hip of early leader Maria Ballerina, took over when that filly backed up on the turn, and ran alone through the stretch. Coco Belle slowed down slightly in the stretch, getting her six furlongs in 1:09.15.

Mild favorite Sheets never got involved and finished eighth. Same deal with second-choice Sindy with an S, who checked in a well-beaten fifth.