06/02/2016 4:05PM

Meadowlands: Blue Moon Stride is a standout in NJSS Final

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Blue Moon Stride has dominated in New Jersey Sire Stakes action this year.

A lot can change between a horse’s 2 and 3-year-old campaign. In the case of Blue Moon Stride, the likely odds-on favorite in Saturday’s $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final at The Meadowlands, the difference in one year could find her a major player on the national scene and not just in the Garden State.

“She was a big filly last year and a bit immature,” said Mark Harder, Blue Moon Stride’s trainer. “She’s grown up from then.”

Indeed, anyone that has witnessed the performance of the daughter of the late Rocknroll Hanover in the last few weeks at The Meadowlands has to be impressed with her ability to carry her high speed and the ease at which she has put away her rivals.

“I think she’s the best of this group,” said Harder in a bit of an understatement since only six will be on hand to give the filly a try on Saturday night.

Owners Emilio and Maria Rosati have been known to spend heavily at yearling auctions with middling results but in Blue Moon Stride they found a filly with an incredible pedigree at what now appears to be a bargain price.

Blue Moon Stride’s dam, Classic Star, a full sister herself to super sire Bettor’s Delight, was being sold and the Rosati’s had the opportunity to look at both her yearling filly and the weanling now known as Blue Moon Stride.

“I really didn’t like the yearling,” said Harder, “But I did like this filly.”

For but $27,000 Blue Moon Stride was purchased and heading into this Saturday’s contest she’s already earned $314,362, with plenty on the table during a well-staked 3-year-old season.

Before venturing away from The Meadowlands, Blue Moon Stride will start from post six on Saturday in the fourth race, one of four New Jersey Sire Stakes finals. All seven fillies in the field are from the next-to-last crop of Rocknroll Hanover, but it appears at this point that Blue Moon Stride has the most potential going forward. Last week she set a personal best clocking, marching home in 1:50 2/5 and leaving her rivals gasping at the wire. While the filly seems as comfortable racing from off the pace, as she did for much of her first NJSS victory on May 21, Harder knows what she will need to do going forward.

“You have to be able to make two moves and race in front these days and I think she’s prepared for that,” said Harder.

Blue Moon Stride ended her 2-year-old season on a high note, finishing second in the Three Diamonds at The Meadowlands, but the results were not the same in the rich Breeders Crown where she finished last in the field to eventual champion Pure Country.

“She got caught behind a horse that was stopping and lost all chance,” said Harder. “I’m not saying she was going to win, but she would have been closer.”

Speaking of closer, Blue Moon Stride’s connections have decided that they are going to keep her closer to home this year. “We didn’t stake her in Canada. She has allergies and that was an issue,” said Harder.

Harder most definitely believes he has a filly that will compete at the highest level in 2016.

“There are some really nice fillies out there and I think she can race with any of them,” said Harder, with an eye towards meeting up with Pure Country and Darlinonthebeach. Those two have been campaigned in Pennsylvania. Harder suggested the James Lynch eliminations at Pocono on June 25 as the likely next stop on the stakes calendar for his filly.

Saturday’s Meadowlands program will also feature the current Hambletonian favorite in Southwind Frank. Making just his second start in 2016, Southwind Frank landed post eight on the outside in his $100,000 NJSS Final. The son of Muscle Hill will meet up with Mavens Way (post 3), a surprising and impressive colt that posted a 1:51 4/5 personal best in last week’s second NJSS leg.

The other two Sire Stakes Finals are led by morning line favorites Boston Red Rocks (3-5) in the sophomore colt pace and All The Time (4-5) in the 3-year-old filly trot.

Meadowlands will offer 13 races on its Saturday night card with first post listed at 7:15 p.m.