09/17/2009 11:00PM

Roxyana steps up to stakes ranks

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OCEANPORT, N.J. - The $70,000 Politely Stakes for fillies and mares is the next logical step for Roxyana, following a pair of dominant allowance wins at Monmouth Park.

A 3-year-old trained by Mark Hennig, Roxyana faces six rivals going 1 1/16 miles.

The gameplan for jockey Joe Bravo is straightforward: get the filly away from the starting gate in good order and let her take it from there.

Roxyana doesn't appreciate early restraint. She will find a comfortable groove on her own, without assistance.

"She's a little difficult, in that you cannot grab hold of her," assistant trainer Rob Rader said. "Yet, she will rate herself."

She did that to perfection last time out. After setting a modest pace, 49.09 seconds for the opening half, Roxyana sprinted away from the pack on the final turn. Ahead by seven lengths at one point, Roxyana cruised to a four-length win over Talkin About Love, who came back last weekend to capture the off-the-turf Revidere Stakes.

"She just destroyed that field," Rader said. "She was pretty darned impressive. I'm not too crazy about running 3-year-olds against older horses, but she beat that group of older horses like she owned them. From here on out, she's going to have to face older horses, so we may as well do it here, where she likes it."

Now 4 for 10 in her career, Roxyana served notice in her last two races that she is ready for a bigger challenge. Perhaps it was a matter of maturity and experience. It could have been finding the light-handed approach that suited the filly.

"She always tried in all her races," Rader said. "Why she stepped it up the way she did, we can't really tell you."

The New Jersey-bred Way With Words bids for her third stakes win of the meet, following statebred victories in the Spruce Fir and the Eleven North handicaps for trainer Mary Eppler.

Haven's Honey, trained by Larry Jones for his wife Cindy, makes her first start since a dominant third-level victory at Penn National in July.

All Night Labor makes her second Monmouth appearance, having missed by only a head to Maren's Meadow back in May in the Monmouth Beach Stakes. Most recently, All Night Labor cruised to a pacesetting win in the slop in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park.

Annabill and Ask the Moon return on short rest from the Revidere. Southoftheborder completes the field.