01/21/2012 5:25PM

Fair Grounds: Believe You Can finds herself on lead in Silverbulletday

Hodges Photography / Lou Hodges Jr.
Believe You Can (left) leads Summer Appaluse home in the $120,000 Silverbulletday.

NEW ORLEANS – When trainer Larry Jones woke up Saturday morning, his mental picture of the Silverbulletday Stakes showed Believe You Can racing in behind the speedy Applauding. But when Applauding had to be scratched, coming down with a stomachache at just the wrong moment, it changed the whole complexion of the Silverbulletday. Believe You Can became the race’s controlling speed, and she led from start to finish in the $120,000 race for 3-year-old fillies, beating Summer Applause by 1 1/2 lengths.

“There was no reason to take her out of what she likes to do,” said Jones. “We’ve had her behind horses, and if Applauding had been in the race, she’d have been tucked in behind her.”

Believe You Can ($7), racing for the first time at age 3, set splits of 23.82 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 47.98 for her opening half while holding a clear edge on Summer Applause, the even-money favorite. Jockey Rosie Napravnik said Believe You Can was aggressive in the early part of the race, but the filly settled enough to maintain her pace in the homestretch. Believe You Can went six furlongs in 1:12.97, a mile in 1:38.23, and one mile and 70 yards in a solid 1:42.34 while Summer Applause and Inny Minnie gave futile chase, the former finishing a nose in front of the latter. Always Here Too was fourth, Yvete Sangalo fifth.

Believe You Can, a Proud Citizen filly bred and owned by Brereton Jones, won the Grade 3 Tempted Stakes at six furlongs before finishing her 2-year-old season with a sixth-place finish in the one-mile Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, but Jones was convinced Believe You Can would handle two-turn racing this spring.

“She’s got a world of talent,” Jones said. “We think this filly’s got a lot of upturn to her.”

Jones said he planned to point Believe You Can to the Rachel Alexandra Stakes here Feb. 25.

Summer Applause, a sharp last-out maiden winner, could make no dent in Believe You Can’s lead, and might have gotten intimidated when Inny Minnie put her in tight quarters at the top of the stretch, jockey Robby Albarado told trainer Bret Calhoun.

“She got in a new situation today,” said Calhoun.