Lilac Queen, unbeaten in three starts since joining trainer Bobby Frankel, should be the solid favorite Saturday at Belmont in the grade II Sheepshead Bay. The turf stakes is over 1 3/8 miles.
It has been 25 years since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978 and 30 years since Secretariat broke a 25-year Triple Crown drought in 1973. The connections of Secretariat, Affirmed, and Seattle Slew speak out.
Empire Maker breezed six furlongs on Belmont Park's fast main track after the mid-morning break Tuesday in a bullet 1:12 under jockey Aaron Gryder.
There is usually little surprise when trainer Scott Lake moves a horse up off a claim. However, the improvement in Shake You Down since he was claimed by Lake for himself on March 12 is astounding.
Trainers constantly monitor the weather to see if track conditions will suit their runners. That is especially true for Saturday at Belmont as some are wishing for rain while others hope the sun will shine.
Eleven New York-bred stakes races at Belmont and Saratoga have had their purses raised to $100,000 -added.
The New York Racing association has raised Belmont's clubhouse admission from $4 to $5 for next year and will sell seats for the Belmont Stakes only in a package which includes tickets for the prior day's racing as well.
It's not quite the $5 million VISA Triple Crown, but in 2003, 3-year-old fillies will have a series of their own that offers a $2 million bonus.
On Sunday, John Salzman, trainer of Xtra Heat, will be represented in Grade 3, $100,000-added Cowdin, this time by a colt named Run Production.
When studying the past performances for Saturday's grade III, $150,000 Lawrence Realization for 3-year-olds at 1 1/2 miles on the turf, handicappers will have a difficult task trying to separate Chiselling, Finality, and Irish Colonial, the top three finishers from the Lexington over the summer.
The New York Racing Association board approved a 2003 calendar that adds a week to the Belmont fall meeting. The schedule must be approved by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
How the Breeders' Cup Distaff (gr. I) shakes out will largely be determined this week when the country's top fillies and mares enter their final preps for the Oct. 26 championships.
Reduced takeout has been credited with attracting more than $200 million in commingled handle to the New York Racing Association's three racetracks so far this year.
Banks Hill, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. IT), will prep for this year's running in Saturday's $750,000 Flower Bowl Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) at Belmont.
The biggest question surrounding the weekend's races is the weather. Rain was falling Thursday when entries were taken for Saturday's $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont, and more rain is forecast for Friday.
Amherst Stable's Volponi will get plenty of support in the grade II, $200,000 Belmont Breeders' Cup at nine furlongs on the turf Saturday.
You heads a field of just five in Saturday's Ruffian Handicap (gr. I), her first attempt against older fillies and mares. Jerry Bailey has the mount.
There was money showing on the board, Richard Englander liked his breeding, and trainer Michael Pino liked his physical appearance. For $50,000, they decided to take a chance on Boston Common.
Well Fancied sprang a 7-1 upset in the $75,000 General Douglas MacArthur Handicap on opening day of the Belmont fall meeting Friday, beating a field that included the state's all-time leading money earner, 4-5 favorite Say Florida Sandy.
Lido Palace heads a field of only six when he tries to repeat in the grade I Woodward Stakes at Belmont on Saturday. The card also features to other grade I races, the Man o' War and Gazelle.
Take Charge Lady drilled a half-mile in :47 4/5 on Saratoga's main track Friday morning. The grade I winner is being aimed for the Gazelle Handicap (gr. I) at Belmont Park.
Excitement surrounding a fourth attempt at the Triple Crown title in six years, reduced takeout, and good weather are credited with helping Belmont Park establish across-the-board increases in attendance and handle.
Eltawaasul and Whitmore's Conn, who finished one-two in a Belmont allowance race on June 21, battle each other again Saturday in the $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT).
- By Steve Haskin
Saturday at Belmont stacks up well with two grade I races in New York.
English-bred Janet, a two-time grade I turf winner last year, faces seven rivals under top weight of 119 pounds in the $250,000 guaranteed New York Handicap (gr. IIT) at 1 1/4 miles over Belmont Park's inner turf course.
With Take Charge Lady and Bella Bellucci both on the sidelines, a field of just five 3-year-old fillies will run Saturday at Belmont in the grade I Mother Goose Stakes.
- By Mike Kane
Breaking a decades-old policy, the New York Racing Association has changed the purse levels for state-bred and open company maiden and allowance races.
Saturday, two months to the day that the great sportsman Ogden Phipps passed away at the age of 93, the feature race at Belmont will be run in his honor.
The Belmont Ball, hosted by the New York Racing Association on June 6 at Belmont Park, raised more than $150,000 for the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
"What a day. What a life." As the sun set on the Belmont backstretch following one of the most energy-charged afternoons of racing in New York history, trainer Kenny McPeek finally was able to express his feelings in simple words.
New York Racing Association officials expected Belmont Stakes Day to be big, but what they got by the end of the day blew everyone away.
The Belmont Stakes Day undercard and preceding days' stakes were characterized by dominating victories and strong-willed performances.
Pat Day broke sharply on Gygistar, but was content to let others take the lead. He then came off the rail and went around the leaders to easily win the Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup (gr. II) Saturday at Belmont Park.
Babae, in her second start of the year, sat second behind early leader Penny Marie, then took the lead and held off a late challenge to win the Just a Game Breeders' Cup (gr. III) Saturday at Belmont.
Though Prince Ahmed Salman's War Emblem is going for the Triple Crown at Belmont Park on Saturday, the Saudi owner is not in attendance. A spokesman for the prince's Thoroughbred Corp. confirmed Saturday afternoon that Salman was in Saudi Arabia and not in New York.
The complexion of the True North Handicap (gr. II) changed at the start, when Summer Note, who was unbeaten in four starts and had always showed speed, hopped at the start. Yonaguska and Explicit then were the two left on the lead, and Explicit proved best in the six-furlong race.
John Velazquez, who was involved in a spill on Friday, was involved in another on Saturday at Belmont Park. Velazquez took off his first three mounts Saturday, then in his first mount back, fell aboard Imadeed as the horses hit the three-sixteenths pole in the Belmont Stakes Day fourth race, the WNBC.
With only $1 million in the pool, War Emblem is even money with those on hand at Belmont Park to complete the Triple Crown. Of course, there is still an hour until the first race on the Belmont Stakes Day card.
You led every step of the way to easily win the Acorn Stakes (gr. I) Friday at Belmont Park. Under Jerry Bailey, You was under pressure until they turned for home in the one-turn mile race, but she then spurted away and coasted home as much the best.
Whywhywhy won the Flash Stakes (gr. III) at Belmont Friday, a race marred by a spill in which Renegade Warrior apparently broke down, and then Windsor Lodge fell over him. Both jockeys, Ramon Dominguez on Renegade Warrior and John Velazquez aboard Windsor Lodge, were conscious and walking after the horrific episode.
The decision for the wager will be made for Imus' co-host of WFAN's "Mike and the Mad Dog," show, Mike Francesa. A combination of straight and exotic wagers will be made, and while Francesa has not divulged the wagering strategy, he did say Friday that Perfect Drift would be the key horse.
According to Victor Espinoza, the Belmont Stakes is going to be just another race, and that he is not going to be doing anything differently.
With a persistent light rain falling Friday morning, trainer Niall O'Callaghan found a dry, warm spot to talk to the press -- inside the track kitchen. But the same question kept coming up: Is his Wiseman's Ferry the key to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I)?
The entire New York area, including Belmont Park where Saturday War Emblem will make a run for history in the Triple Crown, received a considerable amount of rain Thursday evening.
Even before he ran ninth in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Tom Albertrani thought Essence of Dubai would be more suited to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I). On Saturday, he will find out.
This may be the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but trainer Murray Johnson sees it as just the start for Perfect Drift, who he sends out Saturday to try and deny War Emblem a Triple Crown.
John Velazquez was determined not to let heavily favored Holiday Runner get an easy lead in the Fashion Stakes Thursday at Belmont Park. He challenged her aboard La Violette on the backside and through the turn in the five-furlong stakes. Holiday Runner, however, had no trouble shaking her off, then held off a late charge from Miss Mary Apples to remain unbeaten in three starts.
A clubhouse box with six seats on the finish line will be auctioned off at the annual Belmont Ball Thursday, June 6 at Belmont Park. The ball will feature a live auction with eight other items. Proceeds
from the event will benefit the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
McDynamo and Anofferucantrefuse, winners of the first two legs of the Steeplechase Triple Crown, head the nomination list for the $100,000 Meadow Brook Stakes (NSA-I), to be run Thursday, June 6 at Belmont Park.
Four riders have been caught up in the whirlwind called War Emblem, but only one was destined to ride to glory aboard the son of Our Emblem.
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