Juddmonte Farms' Chiselling, the lone Grade I winner among the $200,000 Jamaica Handicap's (gr. IIT) cast of nine, will tote 121 pounds as the high weight for Sunday's 1 1/8-mile feature for 3-year-olds on the Belmont Park inner turf course.Racing for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, the son of Woodman is undefeated in stakes company. Earlier this summer, the colt rallied stoutly to win Belmont's Lexington (gr. IIIT) and Arlington's Secretariat (gr. IT). Like most of Frankel's horses theses days, Chiselling has found himself on the winning side of a tight photo finishes. His win margin in both the Lexington and Secretariat was a nose.
"The Lexington was strong, but the Secretariat wasn't that strong of a race," Frankel said. "But Chiselling is going to be a nice four-year-old. He's improving and he's always there. When I got him, he was one of the horses they didn't expect much from. But his mare (Toussaud) has dropped some great horses. He's still coming around."
Jockey Kent Desormeaux will be in from California to ride Chiselling, who is related to Grade 1 winners Honest Lady and Chester House.Horses exiting some of the nation's premier three-year-old turf races from the East, Midwest and even Europe will converge on the 53rd Jamaica.Expectations on Ibn Al Haitham were always high. As a maiden he ran in the Norfolk (gr. II), Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I), Group II UAE Derby and the Peter Pan (gr. II). He exited those races as a maiden as well.
Turf racing, however, has brought out the best in the British-bred. Entering the Jamaica, Ibn Al Haitham has won consecutive races on the turf, including Saratoga's Saranac (gr. IIIT).
"His pedigree says turf, but it's been a pleasant surprise how good he's gotten," said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who won the Jamaica in 1996 with Allied Forces. "He's trained well since the race and is coming up to the Jamaica the same way he was going into the Saranac."
Though McLaughlin admits Ibn Al Haitham was determined in his half-length win over Jamaica rival Finality in the Saranac, he said he isn't thrilled his colt will have to tackle Chiselling and Jazz Beat, the 1-2 finishers in the Secretariat.
"We beat a good field in the Saranac, but there are some new shooters in here," McLaughlin said. "The Secretariat was a strong race. I've got a lot of respect for those horses."
Jockey Richard Migliore, aboard for Ibn Al Haitham's Saranac victory, has the mount. Ibn Al Haitham gets four pounds from Chiselling at 117.
Macaw, one of two European horses making their U.S. debuts in the Jamaica, won consecutive handicap races in Great Britain prior to being purchased by trainer Barclay Tagg and owner Blue Water Line Stables. On Thursday morning, Macaw got acquainted with Belmont Park's inner turf course, breezing four furlongs around the 'dogs' in :48 4/5.
"His breeze was good and he seems happy," Tagg said. "Newmarket and Goodwood are nice places. I'm not sure how those fields stack up against our horses here, but I've watched tapes of all his races and he's a resolute
horse. Horses that try make stakes horses."
Macaw, an Irish-bred, has never raced at nine furlongs, but he has run well at eight and 10 furlongs. Tagg said he didn't think his colt would mind the condition of the turf course, whether it was firm or soft. As of Friday morning, scattered thunderstorms were forecast for Sunday.
"He's done some nice things on good and yielding courses," Tagg said. "I think a lot will have to do with the way the race plays out. You need some luck in turf races. Belmont is a little kinder to turf horses because of its sweeping turns. This horse seems pretty tractable and he's game. He was collared at the eighth-pole in most of the races I saw and he kept going and going. I was waiting for him to quit, but he didn't."
Jockey Jose Santos has the mount on Macaw, a three-time winner in 12 starts.
Trainer Todd Pletcher was looking forward to Finality's return to the Belmont Park turf, a surface the New York-bred colt has compiled a 3-1-0 record from four starts. Finality's lone loss on the Belmont grass came out the hands of Chiselling in the Lexington. In that race, Finality had the lead in deep stretch, but was nipped right on the line.
"He runs hard every time," Pletcher said. "He's been solid all spring and summer. Getting back to Belmont will only help him and I think he's still improving. We've got to take on Chiselling again, but I think there's more to it. Horses like Ibn Al Haitham and Miesque's Approval are very good. It's a solid group."
Finality, a game second in the Saranac behind Ibn Al Haitham, figures near the lead in the Jamaica. Jockey John Velazquez has the mount.
Moyglare Stud's Jazz Beat was three lengths clear in midstretch of the Secretariat, but was run down by Chiselling, losing by a nose. The Darshaan colt is an obvious threat for trainer Dermot Weld.
Trainer Andre Fabre, one of Europe's top trainers, has shipped Devious Indian over from France for the Jamaica. Devious Indian recently won Deauville's Group 3 Prix de Quincey by a nose, his third win in seven starts. Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens is in for the ride.The Jamaica will be televised on ESPN2 starting at 5:30 p.m. Eastern. A replay of Saturday's Grade 1 Vosburgh will also be shown during the telecast.
$200,000 Jamaica (gr. IIT), 1 1/8 Mile on Inner Turf, 3-Year-olds
PP HORSE, JOCKEY, WGT.
1 Union Place, Edgar Prado, 115
2 Macaw, Jose Santos, 116
3 Chiselling, Kent Desormeaux, 121
4 Jazz Beat, Pat Smullen, 117
5 Devious Indian, Gary Stevens, 118
6 Ibn Al Haitham, Richard Migliore, 117
7 Van Minister, Mike Luzzi, 116
8 Miesque's Approval, Jerry Bailey, 119
9 Finality, John Velazquez, 116
10 Dr. Rockett, No Rider, 112
11 Volkonsky, No Rider, 111