Air Embargo Keeps Ward Duo Out of Belmont Races

Air Embargo Keeps Ward Duo Out of Belmont Races
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Trainer John Ward, whose weekend plans have been altered by airport shutdowns.
The shutdown of New York airports will keep Beautiful Pleasure and Hero's Tribute out of important graded stakes races at Belmont Park on Saturday.

"We're dead in the water," said trainer John T. Ward Jr. Friday morning. "Everything was set going into last night, then they shut down the airports again."

Ward had hoped to run Beautiful Pleasure, owned by John and Debby Oxley, in the Ruffian Handicap (gr. I) and race Hero's Tribute, also owned by the Oxleys, in the Jerome Handicap (gr. II).

He said Beautiful Pleasure will now be aimed for either the Beldame (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 6 or the Overbrook Spinister Stakes (gr. I) at Keeneland Oct. 7.

As for Hero's Tribute, Ward said: "We'll have to go back to the drawing board."

The restrictions on United States air traffic caused by Tuesday's terrorist attack on the World Trade Center has almost completely shut down the movement of horses in and out of New York. Horses can be shipped by van out of Belmont Park, but not many owners and trainers will risk it because there is no guarantee the bridges will be open, according to Joe Kosciuk, a New York agent for H.E. "Tex" Sutton Forwarding.

Gail Cox, in Tex Sutton's Lexington office, also said the company is having trouble shipping out of New York horses that are scheduled to run in the Kentucky Cup races at Turfway Park on Sept. 22 and in the Super Derby XXII (gr. I) at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 23.

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