04/09/2009 11:00PM

Distance key for Clement's filly in feature


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Anybody hoping to watch and wager on the feature event on Sunday's nine-race Easter program at Gulfstream Park had better plan on arriving early because the afternoon's main event is the opening race of the day.

Sunday's $46,000 headliner will be decided under optional claiming and allowance conditions for fillies and mares at 1 1/8 miles on the turf. The contest lured a field of seven, topped by trainer Christophe Clement's Shake the Moon. Shake the Moon will be making her first start since finishing sixth in her U.S. debut in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Long Island Handicap on Nov. 1.

Shake the Moon, a German-bred daughter of Loup Solitaire, is a long-distance specialist whose best races have come at 1 1/2 miles. Her ability to get up at 1 1/8 miles could be the key to handicapping Sunday's opener.

"She was a nice filly in France, she ran in the Long Island, wintered very well here, and we're just looking for a race to bring her back," said Nicholas Bachalard, who has been overseeing Clement's Payson Park operation while his boss was in France this past week. "A mile and one-half is her best distance, but I think she's trained well enough to handle the shorter distance."

Shake the Moon may have to catch Encanto Park, who makes the third start of her form cycle for trainer George Weaver. Encanto Park is rarely outrun early when sent two turns on the turf. The 4-year-old Exchange Rate filly led into the stretch before finishing third a year ago in the Calder Oaks and was also the pacesetter in both the Grade 3 Boiling Springs and Grade 2 Lake Placid last summer.

Encanto Park was transferred to Weaver's barn following the Lake Placid and has made two starts here this winter. She got a much-needed five-furlong prep to open the campaign before stretching out to 1 1/16 miles and finishing sixth after controlling the pace to midstretch against second-level allowance opposition.

Princess Haya, Bahia Girl, and Yippety Yip all enter the race off a victory.

Princess Haya rallied from far back to post a hard-fought nose decision over entry-level allowance types Jan. 29. Bahia Girl beat similar opposition by a more comfortable 2 1/2 lengths in mid-February, while Yippety Yip was claimed for $35,000 after defeating conditioned claimers March 8.