Turf Stakes Highlight Belmont Derby Day Card

Turf Stakes Highlight Belmont Derby Day Card
Photo: Alyssa Spakowski/EQUI-PHOTO
Maram makes her first start of 2011 in the Beaugay Stakes.

A pair of grade III turf races worth $100,000 apiece highlight the Belmont Park card May 7. Six fillies and mares will line up in the Beaugay Stakes and the same number of males are expected to square off in the Fort Marcy Stakes.

The field for the 1 1/16-mile Beaugay, which will be run on the inner turf as race 6 on Belmont’s 10-race card, is headed by Karen Woods and Saud bin Khaled’s Maram, who will make her first start since finishing seventh behind Dynaslew in the Ballston Spa Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 28.

“We picked this spot out a couple of months ago and worked backwards,” said trainer Chad Brown. “She’s run well at Belmont, she’s training well now, and we think this is a good spot to start her out and see where she is.”

Winner of the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, the 5-year-old daughter of Sahm was beaten narrowly in her 2010 season debut before going on to win the Miss Liberty Stakes at Monmouth July 4. She finished fifth in the Diana (gr. IT) at Saratoga later that month. Maram has five wins, one second, and one third from 10 career starts and will have the services of regular rider Jose Lezcano in the Beaugay. Tabbed as the 8-5 morning line favorite, she will break from post 2.

Also returning from a layoff is Team Valor International’s Daveron, a German-bred daughter of Black Sam Bellamy who is trained by Graham Motion. Daveron has not raced since a second-place effort behind Mekong Melody in the Long Island Handicap (gr. IIIT) over the Aqueduct turf course in November, but the mare’s connections have high expectations for Saturday’s race.

“She’s been a lot more relaxed coming up to this race,” said Adrian Rolls, Motion’s assistant. “She’s really grown up and matured since last year and she’s very fit and working well, so we’re looking for a big effort from her.”

The 6-year-old mare has registered one win and two seconds since being transferred to Motion’s barn last summer, with the victory coming in an overnight stakes at Belmont Oct. 20. Last spring, she captured a turf allowance at Belmont and was fourth in the New York Stakes (gr. II) while in the care of Christophe Clement.

The 4-1 morning-line third choice, Daveron will leave from post 6 with Eddie Castro.

In the 1 1/16-mile Fort Marcy, race 9 on the card, Roger Weiss’ lightly-raced Hudson Steele is likely to face five others including Beau Choix   and Riviera Cocktail.

The gelded son of Johannesburg, 5-2 on the morning line for trainer Todd Pletcher, won his 2011 debut in an optional claimer at Gulfstream by 1 ¼ lengths.

“I know everyone in Florida was excited about him and they sent him up here in great shape,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to Pletcher. “He had a very nice work preparing for the race and we’re all looking forward to it.”

Jose Lezcano, who has piloted Hudson Steele to his two most recent victories, has the return call from post 1.

Second choice in the field is Riviera Cocktail, a 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway   who was beaten just a length by Little Mike in the Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream April 3.

“He ran very well in Florida last time out coming off a layoff and he’s training very well,” said Artie Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. “[Little Mike] was a horse for the course down there and we came from well back that day on a speed-favoring course. We couldn’t be happier with the way he ran.”

Although Riviera Cocktail is on the also-eligible list for the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs, Magnuson said the horse was likely to start in the Fort Marcy, where he will get the services of Eddie Castro from post 3.

Exiting a winning 2011 debut is Belle Meadows Farm’s Beau Choix, who captured a Keeneland allowance on April 15. While trainer Barclay Tagg is somewhat hesitant to run the colt back on just three weeks' rest, Beau Choix turned in a sharp half-mile breeze (:46.47) over the main track at Belmont May 1.

“It’s a little quick back for him,” said Tagg. “I don’t like running them back that quick especially after a hard race and a ship, too.”

Alex Solis has the call aboard the 4-1 morning-line third choice from post 2.

$100,000 Beaugay Stakes (gr. IIIT, Race 6, 3:40 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer, ML Odds
1. Comic Marvel (KY), C H Velasquez, 115, W I Mott, 6/1
2. Maram (KY), J Lezcano, 117, C C Brown, 8/5
3. Gitchee Goomie (NY), A O Solis, 115, R A Violette Jr., 3/1
4. Bet On the Blue (KY), C Hill, 115, H A Jerkens, 6/1
5. Ainamaa (KY), D Cohen, 115, G A Griffith, 12/1
6. Daveron (GER), E Castro, 115, H G Motion, 4/1
Main Track Only
7. R Betty Graybull (NY), E Castro, 122, L A White, 2/1
8. Happy Week (KY), 117, no rider, T A Pletcher, 3/1
9. Streaker (KY), no rider, 117, C R McGaughey III, 7/2

$100,000 Fort Marcy Stakes (Race 9, 5:17 p.m.), 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Hudson Steele (KY), J Lezcano, 118, T A Pletcher, 5/2
2. Beau Choix (KY), A O Solis, 116, B Tagg, 4/1
3. Riviera Cocktail (KY), E Castro, 116, K P McLaughlin, 3/1
4. Sal the Barber (KY), C H Velasquez, 116, C Clement, 4/1
5. Mikoshi (KY), D Cohen, 116, M R Matz, 8/1
6. Straight Story (NY), C H Marquez Jr., 118, A E Goldberg, 5/1
Main Track Only
7. Arson Squad (PA), no rider, 123, R E Dutrow, Jr., 6/5
8. Hymn Book (KY), no rider, 118, C R McGaughey III, 2/1
 

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