07/19/2012 2:37PM

Finger Lakes: New York Derby has filly as major contender

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A filly who has been facing Grade 1 and Grade 2 females in her two most recent starts may be the most formidable threat to obvious favorite Willy Beamin in Saturday’s New York Derby at Finger Lakes.

Wildcat’s Smile, who proved she could compete with males when she won last fall’s $260,000 New York Breeders’ Futurity, looks like a viable alternative to Willy Beamin, who brings a four-race winning streak into the 1 1/16-mile derby. As a filly, Wildcat’s Smile will get in with 10 pounds fewer than Willy Beamin, the co-highweight at 124 pounds.

Based at Belmont Park with trainer Dominic Galluscio, Wildcat’s Smile closed out her 2-year-old campaign losing by a nose in the Grade 2 Demoiselle, a 1 1/8-mile stakes at Aqueduct. This season, she won a seven-furlong sprint for New York-breds, finished third in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, and was a distant fourth of five in the Grade 1 Mother Goose.

First run in 1969, the New York Derby has never been won by a filly.

The $150,000 derby, restricted to New York-bred 3-year-olds, is the second leg of the Big Apple Triple. In a new twist this year, points will be awarded to the top three finishers in each race. The owners of the horses who accumulate the most points after racing in all three legs will receive $25,000 for first, $15,000 for second, and $10,000 for third. The series concludes with the Albany next month at Saratoga.

Previously, a horse had to sweep all three legs of the series to win a $250,000 bonus. Tin Cup Chalice in 2008 was the only horse to accomplish the feat.

Willy Bleamin cruised to a four-length victory in the first leg of the series, the seven-furlong Mike Lee. He has gone 3 for 3 since trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. claimed him out of a win for $25,000 in March. Since joining Dutrow’s barn, Willy Bleamin’s Beyer Speed Figures have soared from 64 to 95. His last-race Beyer gives him at least a 16-point advantage over any of his six rivals on Saturday.

The best of the rest may be Sundae On Sunday, who stretches out beyond six furlongs for the first time after winning the Ontario County three weeks ago, and Fox Rules, who returns to dirt for the first time since finishing far back in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March.

◗ Karma Police, winner of the July 4 Niagara, and Pretty Cozzy, two-length winner as the even-money favorite in last month’s Susan B. Anthony, clash in the $50,000 Arctic Queen, a six-furlong race for New York-bred fillies and mares. The eight-horse field also includes Lady On the Run, a two-time stakes winner in 2011.