by Anthony Affrunti
Jay Em Ess' By the Moon returned to Belmont Park to win her third career Grade 3 in the $250,000 Bed o' Roses Invitational, besting Mia Torri by three-quarters of a length in a final time of 1:23.46 for seven furlongs over a fast track to wrap up the stakes action on Day 2 of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival presented by NYRA Bets.
By the Moon owns back-to-back victories in the race after winning the race in similar stalking style last year. The 5-year-old mare by Indian Charlie made her third start of the year, and first since edging clear in the slop in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap for trainer Michelle Nevin.
"She showed up again as usual," Nevin said. "She always tries and it was another great effort. A ride by Rajiv and it was all good. She looked so comfortable and he had her in a perfect spot. When he asked her to pick up her gears he was right there for him. She looked awesome today coming into the race. I just felt so confident with her today. I loved Rajiv's attitude when he came out to the paddock. It all felt good."
By the Moon sat second under a patient Rajiv Maragh while pacesetter Mia Torri took the field of nine fillies and mares through the first quarter-mile in 23.58 seconds and 47.37 for the half under Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, while Wheatfield sat a rail trip to the inside. Maragh stalked through six furlongs in 1:11.03, then swung By the Moon four wide into the stretch, and let his horse do the rest.
Lightstream, the second betting choice in the race, came charging after a five-wide trip turning for home, but couldn't sustain the kick needed through the stretch and settled for third under Javier Castellano.
"On paper it looked like there wasn't much speed other than Mia Torri, so I was hoping for a good break," said Maragh, who picked up his second win on the day's 11-race card. "I had a great post on the outside to kind of see how the race was unfolding. She broke really well from the gate and she always was running strong into the bridle. I was pretty confident the way she was running that she was going to finish up good. Once we got to the lane I gave her a little [cue] and she did the rest from there.
"It doesn't hurt to win," he added. "Every race is very important. It feels good to have a little momentum going into the Belmont Stakes, that's for sure. This filly is special in her own right. I was really excited about this race. I'm looking forward to riding her all the time and I feel very good about this filly going forward, as well, that she can really step up and maybe take the top of the division, because she seems to have something left every time."
By the Moon notched her sixth victory from 17 starts, and has now earned $1,257,940 in her career after the $137,500 winner's share in the Bed o' Roses. Sent off by the betting public as the 6-5 favorite, By the Moon returned $4.50 to win.
Behind the top three finishers were Flora Dora, Wheatfield, Quezon, High Ridge Road, Indulgent and Tale for Ruby.
149th Belmont Stakes Race Replay