From Belmont press office:
Trainer Bobby Barbara's summer in Saratoga Springs was almost perfect. "I was happy with our record," he said. "We won six races, but I'd give a few of them back to get her up. I really wanted to win that race."
Barbara was talking about the Aug. 17 Lake Placid Handicap, a race Indy Five Hundred finished second in after enduring a disastrous start.
Indy Five Hundred has a chance to capture an even bigger prize at Belmont Park Sunday in the grade I, $250,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap.
The Garden City BC attracted 11 runners led by Europeans Dimitrova and Acago. Alchemist is entered as main track only.
Indy Five Hundred drew post eight under Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day and figures a big price on the board. A daughter of A.P. Indy, she is out to turn the tables on Lake Placid winner and Garden City foe Sand Springs. With a better trip, she has a shot to do it.
"This filly still gets antsy in the gate and she was playing around when they opened the doors (in the Lake Placid)" Barbara said. "She was off slow and got knocked around between Brusque and Broad Hope. It was enough to get her out of the mix."
Indy Five Hundred had always used her early speed to her advantage, but after breaking awkwardly in the Lake Placid, fell as many as 16 lengths off pacesetting Sand Springs. It was an adversity-filled trip, but she still managed to launch a strong late rally that carried her within three quarters of a length of upsetting favored Sand Springs.
"You can say all you want, but I think she gets up if she had gotten off a little better," Barbara said. "This filly has been a work in progress. We've worked hard at getting her to relax, but I didn't want her back that far."
Barbara's major goal is getting a grade I victory into Indy Five Hundred. "She's already got some value, but a grade I win would take her to another level," Barbara said.
Indy Five Hundred carries 113 pounds.
The horse to beat is Dimitrova, an Irish filly who has won three of six starts for $550,000. Back in July, she shipped across the Atlantic to score a visually impressive win over 13 horses, including Sand Springs, in Hollywood Park's rich American Oaks.
Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who has won the Garden City twice, has picked up the call on Dimitrova. She is the highweight at 122 pounds and spots her foes two to eight pounds.
Willmott Stables' Sand Springs, another top 3-year-old turf horse, must avoid getting caught in a speed duel with Acago. A daughter of Dynaformer, Sand Springs has won four of her last five starts. Her lone defeat came at the hands of Garden City favorite Dimitrova.
"She's (Dimitrova) is a top filly," said Sand Springs' trainer, Tony Reinstedler. "The Garden City is a grade I and you've got to take on all comers."
Sand Springs has raced just once since the July 5th American Oaks, winning Saratoga's grade II Lake Placid by a diminishing three-quarters of a length over Indy Five Hundred. Sand Springs might have been able to win by more, but she opened up six lengths on the field on the backstretch run.
Sand Springs, assigned 120 pounds, will be ridden by jockey Mark Guidry.
The field, in post order:
Ocean Drive, John Velazquez, 118
Andover Lady, Edgar Prado, 114
Sand Springs, Mark Guidry, 120
Spoken Fur, Javier Castellano, 115
Dimitrova, Jerry Bailey, 122
Acago, Oliver Peslier, 120
Petionville Indeed, Jeremy Beasley, 116
Indy Five Hundred, Pat Day, 113
Sarie Marais, Cornelio Velasquez, 114
Baie, Jose Santos, 119
Campsie Fells, David Flores, 116
Alchemist (main track only), no rider, 117