Bold Ruler, Turnback the Alarm highlight Belmont's closing weekend
Closing weekend at Belmont Park is highlighted by a pair of Grade 3 races, with both the $150,000 Bold Ruler Handicap and the $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap for fillies and mares set for Saturday, the penultimate day of racing.
The 5-2 morning-line favorite in the seven-furlong Bold Ruler is Mike Repole's popular veteran Caixa Eletronica, who gets some class relief after competing in three straight Grade 1 events.
Most recently second to The Lumber Guy in the Vosburgh on September 29, the seven-year-old son of Arromanches will be seeking his fourth win of 2012 to go along with victories in the Grade 2 True North Handicap, Grade 2 Charles Town Classic and Rise Jim overnight stakes.
"He ran a very credible race last time out in the Vosburgh," said Whit Beckman, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "He's one of those horses who is so versatile, no matter what distance, he seems to show up every time."
Returning as well from the Vosburgh is Little Drama, who finished fourth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, after prompting the early pace. The four-year-old Burning Roma gelding, a half-brother to 2010 champion sprinter Big Drama, has one victory in five starts this year, taking an optional claimer at the Bold Ruler distance this past summer at Saratoga.
Spring to the Sky, a three-year-old Langfuhr colt, faces older stakes horses for the first time as he makes a return to the main track. Victorious on turf in the six-furlong Groovy overnight stakes on September 13, the dark bay colt was a front-running maiden winner over a muddy Belmont track last year and his connections are hoping a good performance Saturday will open more options for the sophomore.
"If he runs big on the dirt, there are more opportunities," trianer Bruce Brown said. "Or, he can go to grass full time."
The Turnback the Alarm drew a field of eight fillies and mares, with Hall of Famer Bill Mott's Arena Elvira the 5-2 morning-line favorite under highweight of 120 pounds as she seeks to defend her title in the 1 1/16-mile race.
The five-year-old mare will be making her first start since a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap in April at Hawthorne. Her only other outing of 2012 was a head victory in the Wayward Lass in March at Tampa Bay Downs. Last year, the dark bay daughter of Ghostzapper won six of eight starts, including the Grade 2 Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs and a pair of overnight stakes at Saratoga Race Course in addition to the Turnback the Alarm, run at 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct.
Afleeting Lady has captured half of her eight starts at 1 1/16 miles, most recently taking the Lady's Secret on September 3 at Monmouth Park. Trained by Dale Romans, the Afleet Alex mare has been competing in the Midwest and will return to Belmont for the first time since a fourth-place finish in a one-mile maiden event in May 2010.
Pletcher will have two representatives in the Turnback the Alarm with Maristar and R Gypsy Gold, both coming out of Grade 1 races. In her first start for Pletcher, Maristar was fourth in the Beldame Invitational on September 29 at Belmont, while R Gypsy Gold was sixth in the Personal Ensign Handicap on August 26 at Saratoga.
"Maristar didn't run a bad race last time out; she was just a little overmatched," Beckman said of the Giant's Causeway mare. "Like Maristar, the (Personal Ensign) was probably just a little bit out of (R Gypsy Gold's) league. She's doing really, really well right now, and 1 1/16 miles should suit her just fine."
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens skipped a start on New York Showcase Day for Go Unbridled to await the Turnback the Alarm, in which she was third last year. A 6 1/2-length winner of the Saratoga Dew in August -- Jerkens' second stakes win at the Spa this year -- the Unbridled five-year-old mare most recently was third in the Beldame.
"I thought she might have taken third against the boys in the Empire Classic," Jerkens said. "She's doing fine heading into this race."
Saturday's card at Belmont will also feature the $85,000 Banner Gala sending three-year-old fillies 8 1/2-furlongs on the inner turf. Regalo Mia hasn't competed since a nose second in the Grade 2 Sands Point on May 28 and the Sligo Bay miss will be seeking just her second career win in this spot.
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