04/18/2010 11:00PM

Filling the Withers a challenge


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The racing office could be scrambling up until entry time Wednesday to fill Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct.

As of Monday, the only confirmed starters for the Withers were Swale Stakes one-two finishers D' Funnybone and Ibboyee. The racing office was hoping to get trainer Gary Contessa to run the speedy New York-bred Castaneda, who has won three straight races at six furlongs including the Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes. The Withers is a one-turn mile.

Over the weekend, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said the intriguing Trappe Shot would not make the Withers due to an ankle issue that forced him to miss a Sunday workout. Triple A. Rating and Rule by Night, two smart-looking maiden winners, landed in the same first-level allowance race at Aqueduct on Thursday. Nick Zito said none of the six horses he has nominated to the Withers would run.

Under Edgar Prado, D' Funnybone beat Ibboyee by 1 1/4 lengths in the Swale after beating him by two lengths in the Hutcheson. Both are Grade 2 races at seven furlongs. Ibboyee was being targeted for Saturday's Derby Trial at Churchill Downs, but was redirected to the Withers by trainer Todd Pletcher due, in part, to the small field. John Velazquez will ride Ibboyee.

Horses can be supplemented to the Withers for a fee of $1,500.

Tar Heel Mom targeting Ballerina

Tar Heel Mom captured the first graded stakes win of her career when she took Saturday's Grade 2 Distaff. She will remain in training for the remainder of 2010, with the hopes of capturing a Grade 1 sprint before she is done racing.

The major goal of the summer is likely the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 28. Last year, Tar Heel Mom finished last in the Ballerina but bled in the race, according to trainer Stanley Hough.

Hough said Tar Heel Mom would remain at Belmont until next week when she ships to Saratoga to join the rest of Hough's stable, which will ship there from south Florida. Hough said Tar Heel Mom could make her next start in either the Grade 2 Vagrancy at Belmont on May 29 or the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses, also at Belmont, on July 5.

Tar Heel Mom had run well from off the pace in a couple of second-place finishes in graded events at Gulfstream, but she appears to do her best running when on the pace as she was under Ramon Dominguez on Saturday.

"That might be her best style," Hough said.

Tar Heel Mom earned a 93 Beyer Speed Figure for her 2 1/2-length Distaff victory.

Interpatation possible for Fort Marcy

Interpatation, who upset Gio Ponti in last October's Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, could make his 8-year-old debut in the Grade 3, $100,000 Fort Marcy at Belmont on May 1, trainer Bob Barbara said. Interpatation finished fourth in last year's Fort Marcy, run at 1 1/16 miles

On Monday, Interpatation worked a sharp five furlongs in 1:00.50 in company with the 3-year-old maiden Artie's Chapter at Belmont Park. The two were head and head throughout the move.

"He's ready to go, he worked this morning," Barbara said. "He dug in, saying 'I'm here, I'm ready, let's fight.' "

Following his victory in the Joe Hirsch, Interpatation ran in the Japan Cup in Tokyo, where he finished 14th. After being turned out in Ocala for a few months, he's come back "better this year than any other year," Barbara said. "You figure it out."

My Princess Jess eyes Beaugay

Last year, My Princess Jess kicked off her 4-year-old campaign with a victory in the Grade 3 Beaugay Handicap. She will seek a repeat of that when she makes her 5-year-old debut in the same spot here May 1.

My Princess Jess worked four furlongs in 49.67 seconds Monday morning over Belmont Park's main track. It was the eighth work of the year for My Princess Jess, who has not run since finishing fifth in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland on Oct. 10.

Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg, said My Princess Jess was given the winter off following her disappointing race in the First Lady. She spent a couple of months in Ocala before joining Tagg's stable at Gulfstream where she was training very strongly over the main track.

"She likes Gulfstream, she worked 59-and-change one morning," Smullen said. "I don't think she likes the sandy surface here."

Even though My Princess Jess won last year's Beaugay, Smullen feels she will be fitter for the race this year.

Smullen said the goal for My Princess Jess is "to get that elusive Grade 1" victory. The Beaugay is a prep for the Just a Game, a Grade 1 race on Belmont Stakes Day in which My Princess Jess finished third last year.

* Seeking to capitalize on his success here during the winter, jockey David Cohen plans to ride at Belmont Park this spring. Cohen will ride Mondays and Tuesdays at Delaware, but hopes to spend the rest of the week in New York.

Cohen was the second-leading rider during the Aqueduct inner-track meet and also is second in the main-track standings.