Belmont Park’s 38-day Fall Championship meeting begins on Sept. 5 with with first-race post at 1 p.m. General admission on opening day is free and there will be $2 off clubhouse admission as well.
Two grade I stakes featuring fillies and mares highlight the first Saturday card on Sept. 6.
The standout on the day will be Hal J. Earnhardt’s Indian Blessing, the 2007 Juvenile Filly of the Year who figures to be a heavy favorite in the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) at 1 1/16 miles. While she has been a speed-burner in the past, Indian Blessing demonstrated the ability to rate in her last two races, winning the Prioress (gr. I) in the mud at Belmont Park on July 5 and taking Saratoga’s Test (gr. I) on Aug. 7. She has won seven of nine career starts for trainer Bob Baffert with two seconds, and has won two of three starts at Belmont Park.
Expected to challenge her are Phipps’ Stable’s 2007 Test runner-up Boca Grande, Millennium Farms’ Copper State, who ran second to Ginger Punch in the Go for Wand (gr. I) at Saratoga, Stronach Stable’s grade II winner Spring Waltz, Darley Stable’s Stage Luck, winner of Aqueduct’s Affectionately Handicap, and another Baffert charge, Karl Watson’s grade I winner Tough Tiz’s Sis, who was second to Zenyatta in the Vanity Handicap (gr. I) at Hollywood Park.
Also on the Sept. 6 at Belmont Park will be the $250,000 Garden City (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the inner turf course.
Likely here are Shadwell Stable’s Alwajeeha, the IEAH Stables’ Ariege and Pure Clan, Lael Stable’s My Princess Jess, Darley Stable’s Raw Silk and Gary A. Tanaka’s Shaker (IRE).
Ariege won the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I) for trainer Bobby Frankel to begin a three-race winning streak, with her latest triumph coming in the Madame Jumel at Saratoga on Aug. 9.
My Princess Jess is also riding a three-race win streak. Trained by Barclay Tagg, she is coming off a three-quarter length victory over Alwajeeha in Saratoga’s Lake George (gr. IIT) on July 25.
Pure Clan has back-to-back wins for trainer Robert Holthus and got captured Hollywood Park’s rich American Oaks (gr. IT) on July 5.
Raw Silk won the Sands Point (gr. II) at Belmont Park on May 31. Shaker will be making her United States debut in the Garden City after racing in her native Ireland and in Great Britain for trainer Michael Bell.