06/01/2012 5:58PM

Monmouth Park: Miss Tallahassee her barn's only shot


OCEANPORT, N.J. 0 The Don Bielak barn lays it all on the line Sunday with Miss Tallahassee in the $60,000 Open Mind Handicap for New Jersey-bred fillies and mares at Monmouth Park.

It's all you can do when you only train one horse.

"The intention has always been to have more than one," Bielak said. "We haven't had it yet."

The six-furlong Open Mind attracted seven runners with Miss Tallahassee and Kendrick Carmouche breaking from post 2.

Claimed for $7,500 on May 30, 2011 by Bielak and partner Kevin Callinan, Miss Tallahassee went on to win three races and over $100,000 for the new connections, including statebred bonuses.

That run made her the best horse ever for Bielak, who has spent a lifetime at racetracks as a groom, trainer, morning-line maker, and publicist.

"I've been a racing guy my whole life," Bielak said. "It's pretty tough to make it with one horse. You're always one bad horse from being out of business. You pray you make a decent claim, so you can keep going."

The first decision after the claim proved crucial, giving Miss Tallahassee time off. She didn't return until Aug. 5, winning first time out for the new barn at 29-1.

"The rest did her some good," Bielak said. "We spent a lot time shuttling her back and forth to a nearby farm, giving her time between races."

That ability to run well following a freshening gives Bielak hope for Miss Tallahassee in the Open Mind, the 6-year-old's season debut.

"She's training good," Bielak said. "We gave her the whole winter off. She was ready to run before now, but I didn't like the conditions at Atlantic City. We entered a couple of times here, but the races didn't fill. I would have preferred to have a race in her before now, but sometimes it's just the way it works out."

Emily Allstar returns to Monmouth to debut for trainer David Jacobson, who claimed her for $30,000 out of a win at Belmont Park.

Little Stitch, Salad Girl, Ima Jersey Girl, and Cee the Country, the first four finishers in a Jersey-bred turf sprint stakes at the Meadowlands last month, clash again in the Open Mind.

Little Stitch dominated over the "good" turf, holding a commanding lead all the way around in a 4 3/4-length win.

Lil Kiara and My Lil' Red Rodeo complete the field.