Updated on 09/15/2011 12:27PM

Long-lost Princess reappears


ELMONT, N.Y. - Prairie Princess, away from the races since winning the Grade 3 Miesque Stakes in 1999, returns to the races Friday in a third-level allowance on turf at one mile at Belmont Park. First post for the nine-race card is 3:05 p.m. Eastern.

Prairie Princess, a daughter of Rocky Mountain, did all her racing in a seven-week span in the fall of 1999. After finishing last in a maiden special weight in the slop, Prairie Princess came back 12 days later to win a maiden claiming race by 3 3/4 lengths.

From there, trainer Linda Rice moved Prairie Princess to the turf, where she won a preliminary allowance at Aqueduct. Rice then shipped Prairie Princess cross-country where she upset five rivals in the Grade 3 $200,000 Miesque Stakes at Hollywood Park.

According to Rice, Prairie Princess came out of that race with a small tear in a tendon sheath. Just as Rice was getting Prairie Princess ready to return last summer at Saratoga, she incurred another problem that required additional time.

Last November, Clyde Rice, Linda's father, who bred and owned Prairie Princess, put her through the sales ring ,where she was purchased by John Hettinger's Akindale Farm. This spring, Hettinger contacted Linda Rice about training the filly and she was all too happy to accept.

During her time off, Prairie Princess injured her shoulder and needed "quite a few stitches" to get it to heal, according to Rice. John Velazquez, who has a meet-leading 40 victories, has the call on Prairie Princess from post 3.

Prairie Princess has been training steadily since mid-April and Rice did enter her in the Just a Game Breeders'Cup Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day. But, Rice scratched in hopes of finding a softer spot.

"I think she's very ready," Rice said. "My biggest concern is the weather. She won't run if it comes off the turf."

Turf or dirt may not make a difference for the Christophe Clement-trained Step With Style. A 4-year-old daughter of Gulch, Step With Style is 2 for 2 for Clement, winning the My Fair Lady Stakes on turf at Rockingham in May before taking a second-level allowance race on a muddy main track on June 2. Shaun Bridgmohan rides from post 2.

Trainer Scotty Schulhofer has a contender on either surface with Chaste, if the race remains on turf, or Pearly White, if the race is run over a wet main track.