When the familiar sound of "Call to Post" echoes through Belmont Park Saturday, it will be music to the ears of horsemen and racing fans that are much in need of a diversion from the effects of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Tuesday morning. Racing was suspended Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday following the attack on America.
Although it will be far from business as usual, the business of New York racing will resume Saturday afternoon with Breeders' Cup Preview Day. The 11-race card is highlighted by the grade I Ruffian Handicap, the grade II Jerome Handicap, and the grade II Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap.
Travel restrictions following Tuesday's events have taken a toll on the Ruffian, which will be contested at 1 1/16 miles. California-based Gourmet Girl will not ship to New York and multiple grade I winner Beautiful Pleasure is scheduled to ship from Kentucky Friday morning, but trainer John T. Ward Jr., said he is awaiting word from the shipping company to see if the flight will go.
If Beautiful Pleasure, who is trying to recapture her championship form, makes it to the starting gate 10 rivals are likely to meet her. One of those rivals, March Magic has been in great form throughout the year not finishing off the board with the exception of the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. March Magic made a bid in the Go For Wand (gr. I) and stayed on well against Serra Lake and Pompeii, the latter won the Personal Ensign (gr. I).
The field for Saturday's $300,000 Ruffian Handicap includes: March Magic(Richard Migliore, 114); Beautiful Pleasure (Jorge Chavez, 117); Spain (Victor Espinoza, 119); Secret Status (Pat Day, 117); Miss Linda (Edgar Prado, 114); Country Hideaway (John Velazquez, 116); Rochelle's Terms (Robbie Davis, 113); Shine Again (Jean-Luc Samyn, 115); Pentatonic (Noberto Arroyo, Jr., 113); Critical Eye (Jerry Bailey, 115); and Printemps (Chris McCarron, 117).