It is a cold fall day in New York Saturday morning as the horses are heading to the retention barns for the first time for a Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
Eugene and Laura Melynk, who campaign NetJet Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) contender, Host, used Breeders' Cup week to garner continued support for Anna House, a childcare center for working families at Belmont Race Track.
If races were being run on the turf at Belmont Park today, track superintendent John Passero said the courses would be listed as yielding.
One of the groups paying particular attention at the rail the past few mornings at Belmont Park are those who will have some of the participants in their next careers – the farm owners and stallion managers.
With the wind whipping through Belmont Park Monday morning, trainer John Sadler had a quick thought. "This is not Del Mar," the Southern California-based trainer said.
The battle lines have been drawn for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and it is now time to plot strategy and assess the competition. And nowhere will that place with more intensity than in the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
The top three choices for the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) drew tough assignments when the post positions were drawn Wednesday morning for Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
The head-to-head match-ups for the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship races were announced at the post-position draw Wednesday morning. The Breeders' Cup is Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.
Keeneland Kat became the latest casualty of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, being declared out of the Alberto Culver VO5 Juvenile Fillies (gr. I) Wednesday morning.
Several hours before final entries were taken and post positions were drawn for Saturday's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Pomeroy was withdrawn from the TVG Sprint (gr. I).
Everyone knows Lost in the Fog is unbeaten in 10 starts and will be the favorite in the TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I). And that Shakespeare has won all five of his races and will be one of the top choices in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT).
On a morning in which very few horses left their barns, there was plenty of activity over at the quarantine barn, as several new arrivals from Europe took to the track despite the rainy, blustery conditions.
Greg Norman's Miss Norman, pre-entered in the Alberto VO5 Juvenile Fillies (gr. I), was withdrawn Tuesday after swelling was detected in her right suspensory.
On a morning not fit for man nor beast, it was hard to find any of either outside a shedrow Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. A huge storm hit the area with steady rain and blowing winds.
Saint Liam, the probable favorite for Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I), had his final work before the $4 million race Monday morning at Aqueduct.
With a narrow window of opportunity between the rain that fell over the weekend and a forecast for another deluge within the next 24 hours, trainers of nearly two dozen horses pre-entered in the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships put their charges through their final paces at Belmont Park Monday.
There was quite a thunderstorm on Long Island Saturday night. The site of the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships was hit with loud thunder and bolts of lightning accompanied by an inch of rain.
Doug O'Neill stood in the Belmont trainer's stand Sunday morning trying to figure out when to work his 2-year-olds Stevie Wonderboy and Jealous Profit for their final tuneup for the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I).
The horse that more people are talking about than any other in the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships races arrived safely at Belmont Park Saturday night.
High Fly was injured at Belmont Park Saturday morning and will miss the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. He was to have started in the TVG Sprint (gr. I).
- By Tom Precious
New York Racing Association officials are cautiously backing away from comments attributed to NYRA President Charles Hayward concerning the possible closure of Aqueduct if the state grants NYRA another racing franchise after 2007.
The biggest change for this year's Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships is that the order of the races will be different from past years.
West Point Thoroughbreds' 3-year-old filly Yolanda B. Too, who lost a narrow decision to unbeaten Nothing But Fun in the Cotillion Handicap Oct. 1, was proclaimed to be on target for the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) by trainer Rick Violette Jr. after a workout Monday morning at Aqueduct.
William and Suzanne Warren's Saint Liam, winner of the Woodward Stakes (gr. I) in his last start, worked six furlongs in 1:13 at Aqueduct Monday, in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) Oct. 29.
Afleet Alex took a tremendous step forward in his comeback bid Friday morning by working a half-mile in :46 flat over the main track at Belmont Park.
Tim Ritchey still has designs on making a run at the Breeders' Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge (gr. I) with his dual classic winner Afleet Alex, and he plans on working the 3-year-old colt after the break Friday morning at Belmont Park.
Saturday's $750,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) will be the moment of truth for several fillies looking ahead to the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I). Most importantly, the 1 1/8-mile race should tell us if last year's Distaff winner and 3-year-old filly champ Ashado is heading back in the right direction after her sound defeat in the Personal Ensign (gr. I).
- By Steve Haskin
With Saint Liam pretty much established as the early favorite for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I), a competitive field of eight will line up for Saturday's $1-million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) to determine who will pose the most serious challenge to the Woodward (gr. I) and Stephen Foster (gr. I) winner.
Shakespeare, an easy winner while setting a course mark in the nine-furlong Belmont Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIT) Sept. 11, steps up and stretches out Saturday in the 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Belmont Park.
With his disappointing fourth-place finish in Saturday's Hawthorne Gold Cup (gr. II), Perfect Drift has now become a longshot special for the Breeders' Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I). And that makes him even more enticing, as he tries to emulate Volponi, another versatile, hard-knocking warrior who saved his best performance for the Classic.
Master of Disaster, owned by Puglisi Stables and trained by Steve Klesaris, returns to action Saturday for the first time since a runner-up effort to Henny Hughes in the Saratoga Special (gr. II) in Belmont's Futurity Stakes (gr. II). The seven-furlong Futurity carries a purse of $300,000 and has drawn a field of seven 2-year-olds.
Saturday's $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park managed to pry four horses out of the comfort of their stalls for the dubious task of taking on the race's two brilliant stars, Commentator and Saint Liam, the one-two finishers in the Whitney Handicap (gr. I).
Saturday's $500,000 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT) will feature last year's John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) winner Better Talk Now and Beverly D (gr. IT) winner Angara, whom trainer Patrick Biancone will send out against the boys in the 1 3/8-mile test.
Afleet Alex, the Preakness (gr. I) and Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, will pay a visit to Saratoga Race Course on Saturday afternoon, parading on the main track after the second race.
The firm Getnick & Getnick, the federal monitor overseeing the operating procedures of the New York Racing Association (NYRA), has delayed submitting a report of their findings to the United States Attorney's office, which will turn over the report to Judge Arthur Spatt, the federal judge overseeing the matter.
- By Steve Haskin
Trainer Tim Ritchey said Tuesday that Preakness and Belmont (both gr. I) winner Afleet Alex's fracture is healing nicely, but with an extra week of walking prescribed, there is a question whether the colt can make the Oct. 29 Breeders' Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I).
Attendance fell by more than 15% and handle declined by 11.2% at the recently concluded 60-day Belmont Park spring/summer meet.
Trainer Tim Ritchey confirmed Thursday that Preakness and Belmont, both grade I, winner Afleet Alex was expected leave Belmont Park early this afternoon en route to Barn 24 on the Saratoga backstretch later this evening.
- By Tom Precious
An omnibus racing bill with provisions that include creation of a new state panel to oversee the operations of the New York Racing Association has been signed into law by New York Gov. George Pataki.
After closing to take second in the Adirondack Stakes (gr. II) at Saratoga on opening day, Fifth Avenue is now pointed toward the Aug. 26 Spinaway Stakes (gr. II).
- By Tom Precious
A secret group interested in bidding for the racetrack franchise now held by the New York Racing Association is urging the U.S. Attorney's office to prosecute the racing entity.
Acey Deucey rallied for a half-length victory over Maddalena in Saturday's 58th running of the $250,000 Prioress Stakes (gr. I) for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.
The Suburban Handicap (gr. I), the traditional holiday weekend feature at Belmont Park, may have lost one of it's big guns earlier in the week, but drew a strong field of eight headed by Pollard's Vision and fan favorite Funny Cide.
Wonder Again, who ran quite well in her 2005 debut, should be tough to handle Saturday at Belmont Park in the track's New York Handicap (gr. IIT).
Jerry and Ann Moss' homebred Giacomo, upset winner of the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) will be sidelined for the remainder of the year with a bone chip in his left front ankle, suffered in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). Trainer John Shirreffs said the prognosis is excellent, and he is optimistic the colt will return to the races as a 4-year-old.
- By Tom Precious
The New York Racing Association and MGM Mirage announced June 16 that they have formally entered into a deal in which the Las Vegas gambling company will develop and manage a new video lottery terminal casino at NYRA's Aqueduct racetrack.
The following is a potpourri of impressions, observations, afterthoughts, and memorable quotes from this year's Triple Crown, which proved to be a pretty wild ride. There was nothing ordinary about the cast of characters and the unusual paths they took to get to Churchill Downs and beyond.
Without a possible Triple Crown winner on the line, ratings for NBC's June 11 broadcast of the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) dropped to an average overnight rating of 5.0 with an 11 share, down from 13.4 with a 27 share from last year when Smarty Jones made his bid for the 2004 Triple Crown.
Afleet Alex, very, very confidently ridden by Jeremy Rose, made the same move he made in the Preakness (gr. I)...only this time he wasn't bumped. He blew by the field and romped home to win the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) in impressive fashion.
The smallest crowd for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) since 1996, 62,274, turned out on a hot and humid afternoon at the Elmont, N.Y., track to see Afleet Alex dominate the 137th running of the 3-year-old classic by seven lengths Saturday.
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