06/16/2005 12:00AM

Thistledown: Just Michel to be tested


Just Michel will attempt to stretch her stakes-winning streak to four when she faces nine other Ohio-breds in the $45,000 Merry Times stakes at Thistledown.

Owned by M.Y. Stables Inc., Just Michel will be facing her stiffest test of the season as the 1 1/16-mile Merry Times is loaded with talent, including five other stakes winners.

Just Michel, a 5-year-old Pacific Waves mare, has been highly consistent throughout her 25-race career, with a 12-5-2 record and earnings of $253,553.

This year she has won 5 of her 6 starts, the last three all being stakes at six furlongs. She will stretch out for the first time in nine months on Saturday. Her regular jockey, Scott Spieth, will once again ride for trainer Michael W. Nance.

Oh So Easy is a proven router and is the mare to beat.

She has made two starts this year, both on the grass. Most recently she was a close-up fifth in the Decoration Day Handicap going a mile at Mountaineer Park.

Oh So Easy likes to run on or near the lead and may well be the pacesetter. Trainer Tim Hamm has engaged the riding services of Irwin J. Rosendo.

Imahoneytoo won the Bobby Briker Handicap at Beulah Park at this distance in her last start in 2004.

Imahoneytoo has started twice this year, finishing third in her last start behind Just Michel in the six-furlong Brent's Princess Stakes.

She checked hard on the turn that day, giving up ground and position, then came on strongly when clear. With better racing luck today she will be heard from during the latter stages of this race.

Julio Felix will handle the Richard Zielinski trainee.