05/31/2009 11:00PM

Well Monied a prime investment


PHOENIX - So is the Honeymoon over?

Well, I may be getting a bit ahead of myself, but if you saw the way 3-year-old filly Well Monied won her last two turf races, you'd have to think she holds a strong hand in Hollywood's Grade 2 Honeymoon at 1 1/8 miles on the turf on Sunday.

It gets better, too. Surely trainer Howard Zucker, who knows how to handle a good horse (remember Crafty C. T.?) had a smile on his face when he saw the entries. He likely expected Grade 3 Senorita winner Mrs Kipling to be his main obstacle, but she didn't show, leaving Well Monied the likely favorite.

A daughter of Maria's Mon (who produced turf champion Wait a While), Well Monied has blossomed. She ran fourth in her first turf try, which came in a maiden race at Santa Anita Feb. 27. She showed up again there March 28, and blasted home to win the 1 1/8-mile turf race going away under Joel Rosario.

Of course, that was over maidens. Her May 2 start going a mile here against winners told us more. With Rosario aboard again she was well back early and began a steady advance to the far turn. She pitched out extremely wide into the lane and looked a bit like Zenyatta in the final furlong, blowing past her rivals. She won by 1 3/4 lengths geared down.

The Honeymoon is surely a tougher spot, but not as much without Mrs Kipling involved. Well Monied's main opponents are Acting Lady, who won Grade 2 Providencia, and Candilejas and Pride Dancer, second and third to Mrs Kipling in the Senorita. But the way Well Monied won her last two indicates there's plenty more, and that's cause for a smile on the face of Zucker and those who back her.

Barbaro's bro shows his stuff

Barbaro's little brother Nicanor, who had shown talent on the dirt to start his career, moved to turf at Delaware Park last week and took to the surface like a duck to water. He bounced out to the lead and powered away, reporting home more than 15 lengths in front.

Obviously he relishes the grass, but the addition of blinkers may also have helped him turn the corner. Trainer Michael Matz said an allowance might be next, but there's every reason to believe grass stakes is in this boy's future. Are you already getting excited at the prospect of a Giant Oak-Nicanor clash in something like the Grade 1 Secretariat? Yeah, me too.

Throwing that word around again

Rachel Alexandra is obviously a very special filly, but can we simmer down a bit on the hyperbole? It's as if there's a race to be the first to call her the greatest since Ruffian.

Two years ago we saw another remarkable filly in Rags to Riches earn such raves. Like Rachel she romped in the Kentucky Oaks and then she beat the boys in the Belmont - over a horse who would end up as 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year. Last year Eight Belles caught the imagination with her wins over fillies and then her ill-fated second in the Kentucky Derby. And just a few months ago there were those clamoring for champion filly Stardom Bound to go in against the boys because she'd been so dominating.

Let's just take a breath, order some decaf and let things play out. My good friend and colleague, HRTV racing commentator Jon White, ranked Rachel's Preakness win at No. 5 among the 11 filly Triple Crown victories (behind Regret's Derby, Rags to Riches's Belmont, Winning Colors's Derby and Genuine Risk's Derby) and I see no reason to disagree.

Wonderful as she is, there's the very real notion she isn't the best female runner in the country. That girl ran at Hollywood last week . . .

Zenyatta: She's ba-ack!

And speaking of Zenyatta, her comeback win in the Grade 2 Milady was breathtaking. She actually seemed in a bit of hot water going to the far turn when she moved inside, had to steady and backed up, leaving her double-digit lengths behind the leaders at a point when she's usually rolling up on their heels. No matter. In just a few monstrous strides she was abreast of them and blew on by with rider Mike Smith just holding on to make sure he didn't fall off.

It was like Dustin Hoffman and Katherine Ross in the final scene of "The Graduate" - they were gone before the congregation knew what it them.