10/12/2009 12:00AM

Maram facing difficult task

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Miss Catalyst (above) must beat Maram if she is to gain her first stakes win in the Pebbles.

ELMONT, N.Y. - As an undefeated filly who has won a Breeders' Cup race, Maram certainly deserves respect entering Monday's $100,000 Pebbles Stakes. But with just one race in 50 weeks and having had some foot problems a month ago, Maram could be at her most vulnerable in the one-mile Columbus Day feature, scheduled for Belmont Park's Widener turf course.


Trainer Chad Brown certainly had Maram - last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner - ready to run in the John Hettinger Stakes at Saratoga off a 10-month layoff when she rallied to beat Bluegrass Princess by a half-length. Brown planned to run Maram back in the Grade 1 Garden City here last month, but the filly shed the frogs - the bottom part of a horse's foot - on both of her front feet. Maram had trained well enough in aluminum pads to be entered in the Garden City, but was scratched when Brown elected not to run her in such equipment over soft ground.

The pads have since come off, and Brown has been pleased with the way Maram has trained entering the Pebbles. He feels he has got her fit enough to go the mile.

"I seemed to have been able to breeze her when I wanted, so fitness-wise I'm where I want to be," Brown said. "I really looked at my options, and distance-wise I wanted to run here regardless who went into the race. It fits for what I'm looking to do."

Maram will break from the rail under Jose Lezcano.

Among the major threats to Maram are Miss Catalyst, Denomination, and Dynaslew. Miss Catalyst, trained by Todd Pletcher, has won two of her last three starts. Most recently, she finished second to a loose-on-the-lead Silver Reunion in the Riskaverse Stakes at Saratoga.

"I think she finally found her rhythm, settling and then finishing up well," Pletcher said. "I thought she ran a very good race at Saratoga."

Denomination won a Group 3 in France in April before finishing sixth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in the Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 8. She remained in this country and was transferred to Christophe Clement, who puts her on Lasix and shortens her up from 1 3/16 miles to a mile.

"I thought she ran okay in the Beverly D., " Clement said. "She made a big, sweeping move then she flattened out. She trains with quite a bit of speed, so a mile should be good."

Dynaslew was beaten a neck by Miss Catalyst in an Aug. 2 allowance race at Saratoga before coming back to clear the first-level allowance condition by two lengths in her next start.

Completing the field are Legally Blanca, Miss Blakely, My Magic Moment, Pull Dancer, and Blushing Dixie.