10/11/2009 11:00PM

Miss Catalyst by a neck in Pebbles; Maram third


Miss Catalyst, a steadily improving 3-year-old filly, kept Todd Pletcher on a major roll with a hard-fought neck victory over Pull Dancer and the previously unbeaten Maram in Monday's $110,000 Pebbles Stakes at Belmont Park.

Coming off a runner-up finish in an overnight stakes at Saratoga, Miss Catalyst stalked three wide under Javier Castellano as Miss Blakely and Blushing Dixie dueled for the lead, surged to a clear lead approaching the eighth pole, and held on to win the one-mile race in 1:34.18 over a firm Widener turf course. She paid $17.40 to win as the fifth choice in a field of nine.

"She set up beautifully today and put herself in a good spot," said Castellano. "At the sixteenth pole, I knew they were coming on, and I knew it was going to be Maram."

Maram, who had won all four of her previous starts including the inaugural Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, was off slowest from the inside post, had only one horse beaten through the opening six furlongs and was forced to rally five wide approaching the stretch. She finished gamely once straightened away by Jose Lezcano, but ran out of ground and was nosed for the runner-up spot by Pull Dancer in a blanket finish.

"I didn't want to be that far back," said Maram's trainer, Chad Brown. "She broke bad, she was too wide. There was nothing I liked about that."

Denomination, the second choice at 5-2, lacked room through the stretch and finished last.