06/23/2009 11:00PM

One Tough Belle thriving with Volk


OCEANPORT, N.J. - One Tough Belle turned into one tough mare since a barn change to Scott Volk at Aqueduct over the winter.

Following a second-place finish in her debut for the new trainer, One Tough Belle reeled off consecutive wins - the first a starter allowance at Aqueduct followed by a first-level victory on the opening weekend at Monmouth Park.

She takes the next step Friday at Monmouth in $42,000 second-level allowance/$32,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

"She coming up to this on a bit of a roll," Volk said. "She's doing well. I've had very good luck with her. She's a nice horse running to her potential. This is a pretty good jump. If we were in New York, it would be like night and day. Here, it doesn't look that bad."

More time between races appears to be a key to the 5-year-old's turnaround. Volk has given her more than a month between each start, and the mare has responded positively.

One Tough Belle remains sharp, with a solid work on Saturday at Monmouth, a half-mile in 48.40.

Volk is consistently one of the top percentage trainers. Overall, he is 22 for 80 this year. At Monmouth, Volk's ledger is 9-10-9 from only 35 starters, for an in-the-money percentage of 80 percent. His horses usually come ready to run and are usually in the right spots.

Channing Hill will be aboard.

While One Tough Belle is a seasoned runner making her 26th start, Sky Haven heads to the gate for only the sixth time. A 3-year-old Pennsylvania bred, she will be making her season debut for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Four of her previous starts came in her native state, including a victory in the Presque Isle Debutante. Her other appearance was at Monmouth, where she ran second in the Colleen Stakes. Leading rider Elvis Trujillo has the mount.

Trainer Linda Rice and jockey Joe Bravo are an unbeaten combination this year at 2 for 2. They look to keep going with Trix in the City, a winner of her last two races at Tampa Bay Downs.

Ambling Rose also won last time out, a $30,000 claimer here for trainer Bruce Levine. Chuckie Lopez has the return call.

Cal Lynch sends up an entry from Philadelphia Park: Fancy Diamond and Rare Nugget. They are the only runners in the race carrying the $32,000 claiming price.

Pissarro completes the field.