Updated on 09/16/2011 7:20AM

Step With Style back with her friends


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Step With Style, 2001 New England Horse of the Year, defends her title in Saturday's $30,000 My Fair Lady Stakes.

Many of her competitors in the My Fair Lady, for fillies and mares going a mile and 70 yards on the turf, amassed impressive records over the mild winter. But Step With Style appears to have a class edge, despite going winless in eight starts since winning the Rockingham Breeders' Cup Handicap last summer.

Owned by Moyglare Stud Farm, Step With Style wintered with trainer Christophe Clement at Payson Park and took on the best filly-mare turf runners in Florida, including Krisada, Snow Dance, and Platinum Tiara. She finished third in the Grade 3 Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland in her last race April 11.

Sunlit Ridge, Step With Style's main rival for the region's top award last year, will attempt to build on a 6-for-7 career turf record, including a win in the Highland Happening Stakes over the Suffolk course last fall.

Sunlit Ridge also won the Massachusetts Oaks for statebred fillies on dirt in December, and has two thirds and a second in her three starts this year, all on dirt.

New York-bred Longingtobeme ships north after a third-place finish in an Aqueduct allowance in her first start of the year.

Buzzing B's finished eighth over a sloppy track in her return to New England April 29, but she won the 2001 Helena Stakes here last year and was second to Step With Style in last year's My Fair Lady and second to Sunlit Ridge in the Rockingham Oaks.

Rodeo Springs is in search of her fifth straight victory. The last time she raced in a turf stakes, she finished second to Sunlit Ridge in the Highland Happening.

Tip the Scale has won three straight at Suffolk, and is expected to contest the pace.

Rock's last gasp?

The Rockingham Park barn area opened Thursday, and the track's dirt course is set to open for training May 15 for what might be a final summer season at the Salem, N.H., oval.

About a dozen new trainers will race at the meet, including several from the recently completed Tampa Bay Downs meeting. New England regulars to race at the meet include Ron Dandy and George Handy.

Rockingham management has said the meeting, set to start June 9 and run through Sept. 22, would be the last after the state legislature failed to provide any financial aid or relief in the form of alternative gaming this winter.

Can't keep him down

Jockey Vernon Bush drew one of the biggest ovations of the meet on Kentucky Derby Day when he got back aboard Wild and Striking after the horse spilled him at the gate just prior to the 10th race.

After lying on the ground for several minutes and walking toward the ambulance with assistance, Bush caught his breath, then returned aboard the horse while the large crowd of railbirds applauded. He went on to finish fourth and complained of knee and ankle pain after the race. He rode the rest of his mounts on the card.