OCTOBER 31, 2012
by John Mucciolo
A pair of Grade 3 races headlined the closing week of racing at Belmont Park.
Turnback the Alarm H. (G3): Alpha Delta Stables et al's Afleeting Lady (Afleet Alex) tracked the pacesetter to the top of the lane and inched clear to a 3 1/2-length score under Joel Rosario. The well-bred five-year-old went 1 1/16 miles on the fast main oval in a solid 1:42 for conditioner Dale Romans.
Bold Ruler H. (G3): Darley homebred BUFFUM (Bernardini) sped to the front soon after the start and never looked back in posting his first graded triumph. The four-year-old colt got seven panels on the fast main oval in 1:21 3/5 to win by 1 1/4 lengths for trainer Tom Albertrani and jockey Eddie Castro.
A total of 48 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 27 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 50 percent of the wins during the week. From 19 races on the main oval, seven animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (37 percent), while five of the 29 races on the lawn were taken all the way on the front (17 percent).
Of the five turf runners that lead at every call, four were done in route races and a total of four were accomplished on the inner oval (3 routes, 1 sprint).
The main track, we thought, was pretty kind to early speed during closing week here.
HORSES TO WATCH
3RD -- BOOK REVIEW (Giant's Causeway) was supposed to win this race at short odds, but the way that this Chad Brown trainee spurted clear in the stretch once clear really caught the eye. The ultra-talented sophomore is a superb one-turn runner that might be able to get even more ground.
4TH -- JOKING (Bernardini) was very professional in this one and impressed us a great deal in this six-furlong maiden tally. The Albertrani pupil took back around the turn and then surged clear and held off a game runner-up who was more than eight lengths ahead of third. We might be overstating this race, but have a hunch this gelding could be heard from quite a bit into his sophomore campaign
5TH -- FUTURE GENERATION (Hurricane Run) proved tons the best in this affair, dominating in the lane once clear under steady handling from Ramon Dominguez. The Christophe Clement-trained four-year-old looks to be of graded quality following this decisive score.
6TH -- AVENGING SPIRIT (Tapit) went wire-to-wire over a very strong allowance group in this one for Todd Pletcher. The gelding came home in a solid closing time and will likely be a major player in his return if properly placed.
7TH -- HOBBS (Put it Back) fell just short of a nice tally in his first run off the claim, his fourth straight good race in succession. The sophomore gelding seems like he's spotted in the right spot, but would be a likely winner on a class drop moving forward.
7TH -- FLORAL ROMANCE (After Market) closed with excellent energy to get up at first asking at a tricky distance for trainer Bill Mott, and the sophomore filly will likely be a player right back with winners in her subsequent outing. She was professional in here.
10TH -- HEART OF NEW YORK (Kitten's Joy) was a most impressive debut winner in this finale under Dominguez. The Chad Brown first time starter broke last and stayed there for the opening half-mile, but when given her cue, the filly exploded in the lane to win by 4 1/4 widening lengths. Wow!
9TH -- We always saw the promise of Buffum and were glad to see him put it all together in here. The colt always had talent, and he might just be putting it all together and staying healthy.
4TH -- LITTLE DISTORTED (Distorted Humor) took command at the half-mile mark and held off a stern test from an odds-on favorite to post a fine debut tally under Rajiv Maragh. The two-year-old colt stopped the teletimer in a swift 1:09 3/5 and looks to have a lot of quality for Michael Mareina.
7TH -- HORSIN' AROUND (Proud Citizen) showed big improvement following an average debut for trainer Michael Hushion, leading throughout and coming home in a strong :24 1/5. We thought this filly beat a potentially good field in this affair.
A Look Ahead
The action shifts to Aqueduct on Friday, with the Grade 2 Red Smith Stakes highlighting Saturday's card and a pair of graded stakes for two-year-olds -- the Grade 2 Nashua and Grade 3 Tempted -- scheduled for Sunday.
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