Gold Cup Contender Moon Ballad Gets First Feel of Belmont Track
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 9/22/2003 10:58:24 AM
Last Updated: 9/23/2003 9:33:32 PM

Dubai World Cup winner Moon Ballad
Photo: Trevor Jones
Godolphin's Moon Ballad cleared quarantine Sunday afternoon and was out on the Belmont main track Monday morning, where he jogged a mile and galloped a mile for trainer Tom Albertrani, who is overseeing the colt's training.

"He looks well; as good as last time I saw him in Dubai," Albertrani said. "We might give him a little blowout on Wednesday or Thursday."

Moon Ballad, impressive winner of the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), will take on Mineshaft and Empire Maker in Saturday's Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the son of Singspiel will be ridden by John Velazquez if Empire Maker enters. Jerry Bailey has first call on Moon Ballad, but will be released from the mount in order to ride the Belmont (gr. I) winner, whom he has ridden in all his career starts.

Two possibilities for the Gold Cup are Evening Attire, who won the race last year, and Puzzlement, winner of the Saratoga Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at the same 1 1/4-mile distance as the Gold Cup. The other options for both horses are the Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II) the same day as the Gold Cup and the Meadowlands Cup (gr. II) on Oct. 3.

Definitely pointing for the Meadowlands Cup is Volponi, who used the race as a springboard to victory in last year's Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I).

Godolphin's other big starter next Saturday will be Sulamani, who could square off against Storming Home again in the Turf Classic (gr. IT). The last time they met, Sulamani was placed first in the Arlington Million (gr. I) after Storming Home was disqualified. Albertrani said Sulamani is "doing super."

Two possible invaders from Europe for the Turf Classic are Juddmonte Farms' Polish Summer, winner of the Grand Prix de Deauville (Fr-II) in his last start for trainer Andre Fabre, and Sabiango, a two-time group I winner in his native Germany.

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