10/28/2015 11:14AM

Lady Sabelia ends long layoff in Belmont's Pumpkin Pie

Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Lady Sabelia, winner of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie in February, will make her first start in 5 1/2 months in Sunday's Pumpkin Pie at Belmont Park.

Lady Sabelia, the winner of the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie last February at Laurel Park, will return from a layoff of more than five months in the $100,000 Pumpkin Pie Stakes at Belmont Park on Sunday.

Maryland-based trainer Robin Graham has had Lady Sabelia ready for some time and entered her in the Oct. 3 Roamin Rachel Stakes at Parx. Lady Sabelia skipped that $150,000 race, however, when a horse at Parx tested positive for the equine herpesvirus the day before the race, resulting in a backstretch quarantine.

“The cancellation didn’t really hurt us, except for whatever we might have earned,” Graham said. “I had her ready, but it hasn’t been a problem. She’s really easy that way.”

Lady Sabelia, a 5-year-old daughter of Majestic Warrior, has won 6 of 9 starts over the last two seasons. She emerged from the Fritchie with a four-race winning streak and in the best form of her career. But in her next start, the Grade 1 Madison at Keeneland, she ran off on the lead before tiring to finish last of six.

In her most recent race, she looked home free on the lead as an odds-on favorite in the Skipat Stakes on Black-Eyed Susan Day at Pimlico but was outfinished by eight-time stakes winner Galiana and ended up second.

“We gave her some time after that,” Graham said. “There was really nowhere to run, and I wanted her ready for the fall. She’s been at my barn the whole time, just going easy.”

Lady Sabelia has won following layoffs in the past and should come out running Sunday. She is likely to race next on Dec. 5 at Laurel Park in the $100,000 Willa On the Move Stakes, which, like the Pumpkin Pie, is at six furlongs. Lady Sabelia, a winner of 8 of 16 starts and $545,000, won the Willa On the Move last year by 7 3/4 lengths for Frank P. and Ginny Wright, who own and bred her.

Graham is 3 for 13 in stakes at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga. She won the Grade 2 Futurity at Belmont with Jack’s in the Deck in 2011, the Grade 3 Cicada at Aqueduct with Dixie Talking in 2005, and the Grade 2 Kelso at Belmont with Mr O’Brien in 2004.