08/05/2011 1:58PM

Monmouth Park: Say a Novena heads Colleen

Barbara D. Livingston
Say a Novena preps for the Sorority in the Colleen.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Say a Novena, battled-tested in the Grade 2 Matron at Belmont Park, tops the field for the $70,000 Colleen Stakes on Sunday at Monmouth Park.

The 5 1/2-furlong Colleen is the prep for $100,000 Sorority, the meet’s top event for 2-year-old fillies on Sept. 5.

The Colleen will be the fourth start for Say a Novena, who debuted here back in May with a fourth-place finish for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. A daughter of Songandaprayer, Say a Novena promptly won her next race before heading to the Matron on July 3. Stretching out from 4 1/2 furlongs to three-quarters of a mile, Say a Novena set the pace with Mike Luzzi aboard, yielding only to the sweeping rally from Millionreasonswhy. Say a Novena was clearly second-best, 2 1/4 lengths better than the third-place finisher.

“It was a good experience for her,” Plesa said. “She had to ship to another racetrack, totally different surroundings. She came out of that race better than she went into it.”

Say a Novena looks very tough in this spot with the drop from graded company, the cutback in distance and a return to her home track. Toss in a bullet work since then – a half mile in 47 seconds, the best of 71 at the distance here on July 24 – and you have the makings of a short-priced favorite.

“She worked excellent,” Plesa said. “I think she’ll go forward, and I think she likes this racetrack.”

Unlike the Matron, where she had an inside draw, Say a Novena has post 8 in the 10-horse field with Luzzi back aboard.

“It’s not going to matter, Plesa said. “She’s got speed, so she should be all right.”

Greatful Heir, a first-out winner for trainer Ben Perkins, Jr., breaks one spot further out. A daughter of Wildcat Heir, she drew off to win by 3 3/4 lengths on June 26, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 72, the best last-race number in the field.

“I think she put a little weight on and got a little stronger since she ran,” Perkins said. “The break since then didn’t hurt her.”

Elvis Trujillo has the return call.

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