A single-day on-track Belmont Stakes day wagering record was established Saturday at Belmont Park before the second largest crowd in the track's history, 101,864, and steady rainfall for the 135th running of the Test of the Champion.
Thanks to a well-timed ride from Tyler Baze, Old Friends Inc.'s Quero Quero hit the front at just the correct moment to upset favored Atlantic Ocean by a neck in Saturday's $215,950 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) for 3-year-old fillies on the Hollywood Park turf.
Juddmonte Farms' Toussaud, the 14-year-old daughter of El Gran Senor who produced Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker, was honored as Broodmare of the Year by the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association earlier this year.
Senor Swinger rallied for a 5 1/2 -length victory over Remind in Saturday's featured $220,600 Jefferson Cup (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at Churchill Downs.
Empire Maker and Dynever, two of the leading candidates for the June 7 Belmont Stakes, were on the track at Belmont Park Saturday morning, May 31, with each working to the satisfaction of their respective trainers.
Martin Schwartz's Bowman's Band, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, out dueled the 7-to-5 favorite Private Lap, with Anthony Black astride, in the $100,000 Brandywine Handicap at Delaware Park Saturday.
A cheery Bobby Frankel said Friday morning that Empire Maker covered his usual mile and quarter gallop and went to the starting gate for schooling as the son of Unbridled moved one day closer to Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
El Dorado Shooter gunned from his outside post position in Saturday's $142,500 Bay Meadows Breeders' Cup Sprint Handicap (gr. III) with jockey Chad Schvaneveldt and the 6-year-old speedster was never threatened in an easy victory.
History was set at Belmont Park Saturday but it was not Funny Cide becoming a Triple Crown winner. Instead, it was trainer Bobby Frankel winning his first Triple Crown race when his Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Ten Most Wanted was second and Funny Cide third.
Stronach Stables' Winning Chance kept her race record perfect this year with a dominating performance at Woodbine in Saturday's featured $189,375 Ontario Matron Stakes, for fillies and mares over 1 1/6 miles.
Bobby Frankel ran one-two in the $400,000 Manhattan Handicap (gr. I) Saturday at Belmont Park, with Denon holding off Requete in the 10-furlong turf race. Frankel sends out Empire Maker in the following race, the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Posse, closing ground with every stride, got by odds-on favorite Midas Eyes at the wire to take the Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup (gr. II) at Belmont Park Saturday. The 3-year-old Silver Deputy colt covered the seven furlongs over a sloppy track in a good 1:22.03.
Jockey Alfredo Juarez Jr. suffered an undetermined injury to his right foot and abrasions and bruises to his right shoulder after being thrown to the Arlington Park turf course when his mount, Naskramoon, broke down in the vicinity of the sixteenth pole in the fifth race Saturday.
One thing we know for sure, Mariensky likes the turf about as soft as it can get. Twice in a week, she has won graded stakes over a very soft Belmont Park turf course.
Perfect Drift, the third place finisher in the 2002 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), breezed an easy half-mile Saturday at Churchill Downs' Trackside Louisville training center and trainer Murray Johnson said the Dynaformer gelding appears ready for a likely run in next Saturday's $750,000-added Stephen Foster Handicap (gr. I).
Shake You Down continued to show an affinity for an off track, running fast fractions over a sloppy surface at Belmont Park to win the $190,000 True North Breeders' Cup (gr. II). It was the fourth straight win for Shake You Down since being claimed by trainer Scott Lake, the last two graded stakes victories.
Funny Cide, who won the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) impressively on an off track, will get his chance to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner on a similar surface. The precipitation moved from a drizzle to a steady light rain at about 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Then it picked up intensity. The track is now rated sloppy. The sealed surface has considerable water standing on it.
With less than an hour until post time for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Funny Cide is the 4-5 favorite of the wagering public. It goes without saying New Yorkers want to see the New York-bred gelding become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
A massive public gamble was landed Saturday at Britain's Epsom Downs when Kris Kin came late to secure a decisive victory in the Vodafone Epsom Derby (Eng-I). Owner Saeed Suhail had paid £90,000 to supplement Kris Kin for the race, even though he had been entered originally as a yearling at a cost of only £310 and subsequently scratched last autumn.
Four yellow school busses carrying Funny Cide's owners (who comprise Sackatoga Stable) and their friends arrived at Belmont Park at 11:30 a.m. today after a short but eventful journey from the Sheraton Hotel near John F. Kennedy Airport.
What more could you ask for. The first race on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) Day was a runaway winner ridden by none other than Jose Santos. The New York-based jockey is the regular rider of Funny Cide, who later today will try to become racing's 12th Triple Crown winner.
The first order of business in New York on Belmont Stakes (gr. I) Day -- complain about the weather. The first raindrops began falling at 9 a.m., only about nine hours before forecasters predicted. Well, nothing new.
Selected stories from newspapers and Web sites about the Belmont Stakes and Funny Cide's Triple Crown run.
Sure, there is not much in the pool, but the early word is obvious--New Yorkers want New York-bred Funny Cide to become a Triple Crown winner. They are wagering on him to take Saturday's Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
- By Ron Mitchell
When Sackatoga Stables Funny Cide seeks to etch his name in the history books as a Triple Crown winner in today's Belmont Stakes, there is a good possibility the 6:38 p.m. (EDT) race will be run in the rain.
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