10/15/2009 12:00AM

Joanie's Catch a new filly

Jim Lisa
Joanie's Catch wins the Brave Raj after having blinkers removed.

MIAMI - Joanie's Catch ascended to the top of the local 2-year-old filly division last month with her easy victory in the Brave Raj Stakes. Now that Rose Family homebred must prove she belongs there when she starts against six other juvenile fillies in Saturday's $400,000 My Dear Girl Stakes at Calder, the finale of the filly division of the Florida Stallion series.

Joanie's Catch had always shown promise but was continuously hampered by gate issues earlier in her career. That problem came to a head when she dwelt badly at the start of the seven-furlong Susan's Girl Stakes on Aug. 29. But after doing some exhaustive gate work and having her blinkers removed, Joanie's Catch was like a new horse for the one-mile and 70-yard Brave Raj, not only breaking alertly but showing an unexpected turn of foot that had her with the pace from the outset before drawing away to a decisive 4 1/2-length triumph. The Beyer Speed Figure of 84 she earned that day was 18 points better than any number she had received in eight previous tries.

"She hasn't been back to the gate again, since she did fine last time, and we don't want to push our luck," said owner-trainer Barry Rose. "We'll just do everything the same, keep the blinkers off, and she should be fine. There is some speed in this field, so we won't press her to make the lead, although we'll try to keep her out of trouble going into the first turn."

Rose said even though Joanie's Catch will likely be favored on Saturday, he feels there was more pressure before her last start.

"The pressure was higher before the last one, because of all the changes we made, removing her blinkers and working at the gate, and not knowing how she'd react," said Rose. "I feel a lot better going into this race, because she appears to be okay getting out of the gate now."

Sweetlalabye and Tillie the Tigress, who finished a well-beaten fourth and sixth in the Brave Raj, will try Joanie's Catch again Saturday. New York invader Australis Princess, Suffolk Downs shipper Primal Baby, and local maiden winners Sweet Enticement and Winsockie complete the field.

Sweetlalabye defeated Joanie's Catch by three-quarters of a length in capturing the six-furlong Desert Vixen Stakes on Aug. 8 and finished second, beaten a neck by Rosebuds Ridge, in the seven-furlong Susan's Girl. She rallied from near the rear of the field while forced to alter course through the stretch as the 8-5 favorite in the Brave Raj.

Tillie the Tigress broke slowly, trailed early, and was never a factor in the Brave Raj. She will add blinkers and shows a bullet 48-second half-mile work earlier this week in preparation for her rematch with Joanie's Catch in the My Dear Girl.