10/25/2007 11:00PM

Maryfield rallies to win F&M Sprint

EmailOCEANPORT, N.J. - Getting into the winner's circle to have his picture taken was a far more difficult proposition for trainer Doug O'Neill on Friday than winning the inaugural Filly and Mare Breeders' Cup Sprint with Maryfield at a soggy Monmouth Park.

O'Neill was repeatedly stopped by an overzealous New Jersey state trooper who questioned his credentials while Maryfield and her raucous band of supporters celebrated in the winner's circle. The 6-year-old mare rallied to a half-length triumph over the 43-1 Miraculous Miss in the $1 million Filly and Mare Sprint.

Maryfield, haltered by O'Neill for $50,000 in January 2006, gave the California-based O'Neill his third Breeders' Cup victory. He also won the 2005 Juvenile with Stevie Wonderboy and the 2006 Sprint with Thor's Echo. Maryfield was ridden by the Calder-based jockey Elvis Trujillo, who was participating in his first Breeders' Cup event.

Maryfield is owned by the partnership of Mark Gorman, Nick Mestrandrea, Jim Perry, and Mark Verge. A daughter of Elusive Quality, she paid $18 after covering six furlongs in 1:09.85 over a sloppy track.

Trujillo allowed Maryfield to settle in midpack behind the early pace of Dream Rush, who set fractions of 21.29 seconds and 44.19 for the opening quarter and half-mile. Dream Rush was still clear entering the stretch as Maryfield commenced her rally while fanning five wide. Dream Rush was headed by the rail-skimming Miraculous Miss, who gained a brief lead between calls near the sixteenth pole. But Miraculous Miss could not hold off Maryfield, who surged to victory nearing the wire.

Miss Macy Sue, who broke slowly from the rail, rallied mildly from between horses to finish third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Miraculous Miss. Dream Rush faded to finish fifth, two lengths in front of the 2-1 favorite, the previously undefeated La Traviata.

"The key was getting her to relax, which happened pretty much by accident after she broke slow in the Distaff Breeders' Cup Handicap, and for that I give a lot of credit to jockey Jorge Chavez," said O'Neill. "I just wish we'd figured it out sooner. I also have to give Elvis a lot of credit for giving her such a great ride with all the pressure on him in his first Breeders' Cup."

Maryfield's win in the Filly and Mare Sprint, coming on the heels of her Grade 1 victory in the Ballerina, also makes her a prime candidate to win the newly created Eclipse Award for filly and mare sprinters.

Rick Violette, who trains the two-time Grade 1 winner Dream Rush, said the torrid pace, not the wet track, was most responsible for his filly's disappointing performance.

"She handled the surface well enough, but going 44 flat was just too fast," said Violette.