09/30/2008 11:00PM

Elusive Bluff begins to pay dividends


ELMONT, N.Y. - Michael Moreno purchased Elusive Bluff for $600,000 after the colt won his debut, and the California-based owner began collecting on his investment Wednesday when Elusive Bluff got up in the final two strides to beat Show Me the Cash in the Grade 3, $159,300 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park.

The victory secured Elusive Bluff a spot in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, to be run Oct. 25 at Santa Anita. The Pilgrim, a Win and You're In race, was postponed from Sunday to Wednesday due to wet weather.

Elusive Bluff ($8.90) was fifth of six and racing behind a dawdling pace set by longshot Show Me the Cash. Michael Baze, who came in from California to ride, had Elusive Bluff behind a wall of horses in the stretch. When he finally found room at the eighth pole, Elusive Bluff began to pick it up and really kicked in at the sixteenth pole to get up. He covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.91 over yielding turf.

"Once it opened up and he had a hole to go through he shot right through,'' Baze said.

Elusive Bluff, a son of Elusive Quality, was sold shortly after his debut win in a deal brokered by bloodstock agent Steve Young. The horse remained in New York with his initial trainer, Bill Badgett, but he ran under the name of his new trainer, Eric Guillot. Moreno said the horse would shortly be shipped to Guillot in California.

Though the horse earned a spot in the Juvenile Turf, Moreno did not rule out running in the $2 million Juvenile over the Pro-Ride surface.

"He'll go out to Santa Anita, we'll get him over the Polytrack, see if he likes it, and we'll talk about if we run him in the Juvenile or the Juvenile Turf,'' said Moreno, who last year purchased the mare of Elusive Bluff, Megans Bluff, at auction.

Maram wins Miss Grillo

When Melhor Ainda won the Miss Grillo in 2004, Chad Brown was working as an assistant to that filly's trainer, Bobby Frankel.

When Brown, now out on his own, received Maram to train from owner Karen Woods, his initial thought was that she reminded him of Melhor Ainda. On Wednesday, the similarities continued as Maram rallied five wide to win Grade 3, $164,200 Miss Grillo by a neck over Freedom Rings. It was a head back to My Magic Moment in third and another neck back to Persistently, the 6-5 favorite.

The Miss Grillo was a Win and You're In race, meaning Maram earned a berth in the $1omillion Juvenile Fillies Turf on Oct. 24.

Her final time of 1:46.12 over the yielding Widener turf was 1.79 seconds faster than Elusive Bluff's time winning in the Pilgrim over the inner turf.

Brown said Maram reminded him of Melhor Ainda in that she "wouldn't impress you on dirt but you could tell she was turfy and she was wiry and she doesn't get tired.''

Maram ($15.20), under Jose Lezcano, launched a five-wide bid around the far turn and was able to outkick Freedom Rings, who had slipped through on the rail.