BELMONT NOTEBOOK

SEPTEMBER 20, 2012

by John Mucciolo

A pair graded tilts on the lawn headlined the second weekend of racing during the fall meeting at Belmont Park.

Garden City H. (G1): Martin Schwartz's SAMITAR (Rock of Gibraltar) made a nice run turning for home while wide to take the lead and held off a game rally from the runner-up to win by a head for trainer Chad Brown. The accomplished three-year-old filly stopped the teletimer in 1:48 3/5 for nine panels beneath Ramon Dominguez.

Noble Damsel S. (G3): Edward A. Cox's NAPLES BAY (Giant's Causeway) tracked in third early behind a fast pace, inched closer approaching the turn for home and finished best in posting a 1 1/2-length win under Jose Lezcano. The Christophe Clement charge endured one mile on the firm lawn in 1:33 4/5.

Track Stats

A total of 47 races were held at the Elmont, New York, venue, with favorites winning at a 26 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 47 percent of the wins during the week. From 20 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (35 percent), while eight of the 27 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (30 percent).

Speed was good for most of the week on both turf ovals but especially the outer, with six of the eight wire jobs coming on that oval (two in sprints, four in route runs).

The main strip played mostly fairly all week in our estimation. Saturday yielded the best results for speed on the dirt surface, with three wire-to-wire winners coming through from just four races.

We saw a handful of odds-on favorites fail to fire this week, for reasons we're not sure of.

Meet Totals

RACES:   67
DIRT:   39
TURF:   28
FAVORITES:   18 (27percent)
2ND CHOICES:   14 (21 percent)
TURF WIRE:   10 (36 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   10 (26 percent)

HORSES TO WATCH

Wednesday (9/12)

4TH -- The Cam Gambolati-trained MADAME GIRY (Castledale) made fairly short work of this field in the lane to win again in sharp fashion. The Maryland-bred flew home to complete this six panels in a wicked 1:07 4/5 under Eddie Castro.

Thursday (9/13)

1ST -- The much anticipated return of FIRE ON ICE (Unbridled's Song), a dynamic maiden winner on the undercard of the 2011 Travers, didn't go as planned as the sophomore was never involved while trailing the field from start to finish. The John Kimmel trainee clearly needed this race in his first try in more than a year, but we had hoped to see better today.

Friday (9/14)

4TH -- SATURDAY APPEAL (Any Given Saturday) didn't have much of a chance with the winner who kept him at bay throughout the stretch, but this juvenile was tons clear of third and should graduate soon for conditioner Ken McPeek.

5TH -- SUNNY DESERT (Wild Desert) was easily best of this field of fillies, as the sophomore lass never gave this field a chance under Ramon Dominguez. The Empire State-bred came home in a solid final time without being scrubbed on much, and should have another forward move in her for conditioner John Parisella.

6TH -- FREE AS A BIRD (Hard Spun) was a good-looking winner in this turf fray for trainer Ian Wilkes, taking over with relative ease and pouring it on late in a sharp victory. The well-bred filly could be a nice one.

Saturday (9/15)

5TH -- NEVADA (Tapit) didn't follow up her fine second at first asking in this one as she was green and a bit hard to handle, but the Todd Pletcher pupil still clearly has a lot of ability and will get the job done soon.

7TH -- SARATOGA SNACKS (Tale of the Cat) proved that he is good enough for open company and to stretch out in trip with this dominating win for conditioner Gary Sciacca. The multi-talented sophomore will be stakes bound for sure next time after coming home in a swift :24.

9TH -- TANNERY (Dylan Thomas) was last early after a slow start, but finished with great interest to be third in this one in her U.S. debut. The Irish import should be real tough next time facing easier with one under her belt here for Alan Goldberg.

A Look Ahead

Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap, the lone graded race carded this weekend at Belmont, is shaping up to be a terrific test for female sprinters in advance of the Breeders' Cup.

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