01/18/2012 1:22PM

Gulfstream: Strike the Moon, Catch a Thief catch a break

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Barbara D. Livingston
Strike the Moon won last year’s Charles Town Oaks and was second in the Delaware Oaks.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Pomeroys Pistol is not running in Friday’s third race at Gulfstream Park. That’s good news for the connections of two talented fillies who are Strike the Moon and Catch a Thief, both of whom futilely chased the multiple graded stakes winner Pomeroys Pistol to the wire earlier this meet in the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl.

Strike the Moon and Catch a Thief are two of the leading contenders in Friday’s $60,000 main event, a 6 1/2-furlong dash that drew a field of seven fillies and mares.

Strike the Moon finished third, two lengths behind Pomeroys Pistol, in the six-furlong Sugar Swirl. The outing ended a very successful 3-year-old campaign for Strike the Moon highlighted by her victory in the rich Charles Town Oaks on Sept. 17. A daughter of Malibu Moon, she also finished second, beaten just a head by St Johns River, after setting all the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Delaware Oaks.

“The timing is right for this race to get her to the Hurricane Bertie Stakes in just about four weeks,” said trainer Michael Trombetta about that Grade 3, $150,000 stakes here on Feb. 19. “The extra distance Friday gives her a little more room to work with.”

Catch a Thief checked home fourth, less than a length behind Strike the Moon, in the Sugar Swirl. Catch a Thief registered her lone victory in 2011 at Gulfstream, leading throughout to capture a high-priced optional claiming race going a mile in her seasonal debut. She finished a distant third behind Awesome Maria in the Grade 3 Sabin five weeks later.

Trainer Tim Hills said he too is considering using this race as a prep for the Hurricane Bertie for Catch a Thief.

“This is a better distance for her than six furlongs,” said Hills, “and a one-turn race at seven furlongs is probably ideal for her because she has tactical speed but she’s not super-speedy. She and Strike the Moon are similar horses, and the better trip may decide the outcome. My filly can be on the pace or stalk. Stalking is better for her and there seems to be enough speed in this race to spread the field a little, which would be good.”

The speed of Friday’s main event figures to be provided by Final Mesa, a Grade 3 winner here last year for trainer Wesley Ward, and Wildcat Aly, one of two horses trainer Marty Wolfson entered in the race.

Final Mesa has not started since finishing fourth as the 4-5 favorite after contesting the pace in the Ms Preakness at Pimlico on May 20. She has shown flashes of her old speed on occasion during her six recorded workouts here dating back to Nov. 30.

Wildcat Aly makes her first start for Wolfson. A former claimer, she won 4 of her 7 tries in 2011. Wolfson also sends out Bronx City Girl for her first appearance since finishing far back in the Grade 1 Ballerina last summer at Saratoga.

Belle of the Hall was winless last season after banking over $245,000 as a 3-year-old but did turn in several strong efforts against stakes competition in New York.