Believe You Can faces short field in Mother Goose

Believe You Can faces short field in Mother Goose

Believe You Can will face only four rivals on Saturday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park as she seeks to build upon her last-out victory in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. The Larry Jones-trained daughter of Proud Citizen is following the same path as former Jones pupil Proud Spell, and will try to go one better than that fellow Proud Citizen filly who ran second, before being disqualified to third, in the 2008 Mother Goose.

Like Proud Spell, who was honored as the 2008 champion three-year-old filly, Believe You Can captured the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks prior to her Kentucky Oaks score. The dark bay lass also recorded a win in the Silverbulletday Stakes to start her sophomore season and boasts a triumph in last year's Grade 3 Tempted Stakes over Belmont's track.

Jockey Rosie Napravnik took over riding duties on Believe You Can this year and the pair will have to be at the top of their game to hold off Grade 1 Acorn Stakes winner Contested and Grade 2 victress Disposablepleasure.

"She worked well the other day (five furlongs in :59 3/5 at Belmont on Monday), Rosie was happy with her, and this morning she was feeling really good," Jones said Wednesday. "She's put on weight since the Oaks and I'm very, very pleased with the way she's continued to grow."

Contested is riding a four-race winning skein that began last October when she broke her maiden by 6 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita. The Ghostzapper miss opened her three-year-old campaign at that California venue, taking an allowance by 5 3/4 lengths, and continued her domination when making her stakes bow in the Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. Following that 4 3/4 length romp, Contested shipped to Belmont to add a five-length wire job in the Acorn to her resume.

"We're excited to have a horse competing at that level," said Bob Baffert, who trains Contested for his wife, Jill. "It's less nerve-wracking because if she gets beat, I don't have to explain it to anyone. I saw her train (when in town for the Belmont Stakes) and she seems like she's doing really well. She deserves a chance to run there, and we'll find out where we stand. Hopefully they don't go too fast early."

Javier Castellano was aboard for Contested's Acorn run and retains the mount on Saturday as the filly tries 1 1/16 miles for the first time.

"Well, the speed is all right next to each other," Baffert remarked after the draw. "It all depends on how she breaks, but she's just very fast. The first time she ran, she didn't break, but every time since she just gets out there and lays it down. We've been moving her up in increments to find out how far she wants to go."

Trainer Todd Pletcher opted to skip the Kentucky Oaks with Disposablepleasure and instead entered the gray daughter of Giacomo in the grassy Edgewood Stakes on the undercard. However, he scratched her from that race and she showed up two weeks later to be a rallying second in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes behind stablemate In Lingerie.

"She was unlucky," Michael McCarthy, Pletcher's assistant, said of Disposablepleasure's Black-Eyed Susan effort. "I think she could have made it a lot closer with a cleaner trip, and obviously we're looking for a cleaner trip this weekend. She's come out of the Black-Eyed Susan in great order and has trained forwardly. She fits here, and she's improving."

Disposablepleasure hasn't won since taking the Grade 2 Demoiselle Stakes at Aqueduct in late November, but will get Ramon Dominguez back in the irons for the first time since the Demoiselle.

The remaining two entrants in the Mother Goose dropped their past starts to re-opposing rivals. Wildcat's Smile posted a nice optional claiming win at Aqueduct to earn a shot in the Black-Eyed Susan and wound up third in that nine-furlong contest. The Dominic Galluscio-trained daughter of Forest Wildcat is familiar with running behind Disposablepleasure, having just missed by a nose in the Demoiselle.

The lightly raced Zo Impressive romped in her initial two starts, but her past two have seen the Hard Spun lass a well-beaten second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks and Acorn. The Tom Albertrani pupil will have regular rider Rajiv Maragh in the saddle while trying to get back to the winner's circle.

"In the Acorn nobody really went with Contested," Albertrani said. "I was thinking (Aubby K) might go with her, but we found ourselves up close. We wanted to take back a little. A different scenario might help us where there might be a little more pressure on the front runners."