05/18/2011 4:59PM

Pimlico: Strike the Moon steps up in Miss Preakness

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Bob Coglianese
Final Mesa figures to be the horse to catch in Friday's Miss Preakness Stakes.

BALTIMORE – Mike Trombetta took Strike the Moon to south Florida this winter because he thought she was a stakes-caliber filly. A physical issue delayed her return to the races, so now Trombetta will find out if he’s correct when Strike the Moon runs in Friday’s $75,000 Miss Preakness Stakes at six furlongs.

After getting beat a nose in her debut, Strike the Moon won a maiden race by 2 1/4 lengths at Aqueduct last November. In Florida, she suffered inflammation in a hock, known as a popped curb, which forced Trombetta to stop on her. Strike the Moon made her seasonal debut in a first-level allowance race here April 15 which she won by six lengths. She earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 88.

“I thought it was really good; number-wise it came up well,” Trombetta said. “We put some pressure on her, but we didn’t squeeze her too hard to get her ready. Obviously, this race we put a bit more pressure on her. She’s training really good.”

The horse to catch and beat is Final Mesa, a three-time stakes winner including a 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Old Hat at Gulfstream on Jan. 5. Trainer Wesley Ward said Final Mesa had some bleeding problems since then, but he believes he has them resolved for this race. Jeffrey Sanchez rides.

Bold Affair, who is 2 for 2 for trainer Howard Wolfendale, and R Holiday Mood, a stakes winner going long for trainer Todd Pletcher, are other contenders in this field.