Behrens and Lemon Drop Kid have faced off in each of their last two starts, and the two will meet again Saturday in the $500,000 Woodward Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park. Lemon Drop Kid finished ahead of Behrens in winning the Suburban (gr. II) and Whitney Handicaps (gr. I) earlier this summer, and -- going back to last year's Breeders' Cup Classic, in which Lemon Drop Kid finished five lengths clear of Behrens -- Lemon Drop Kid has placed ahead of the 6-year-old son of Pleasant Colony in three consecutive races.
"That was yesterday and the Woodward is Saturday," said H. James Bond, trainer of Behrens. "He's been doing great since the Whitney."
New to the mix is Pacific Classic (gr. I) winner Skimming, who ships to New York for trainer Bobby Frankel. The Juddmonte Farms homebred has four wins from six starts after shipping to North America from Europe.
"We thought he could be a nice horse, but we didn't realize he could do what he did," Frankel said.
The 4-year-old son of Nureyev led at every call while winning his last two starts, the San Diego Handicap (gr. III) and the Pacific Classic, both at Del Mar. "I'm hoping it wasn't just Del Mar, but it might have been," Frankel said. "He's trained well at Belmont."
Ecton Park was closing well late in the Pacific Classic, finishing third in the 1 1/4-mile race, and now cuts back a furlong for the one-turn 1 1/8-mile Woodward. Mark Stanley's 4-year-old Forty Niner colt is winless since romping by 8 1/4 lengths in a muddy renewal of the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap at Pimlico in May. In both his last two starts -- third-place finishes in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. III) and Pacific Classic -- he's finished behind Skimming.
The Woodward will be televised by ESPN2 as part of a one-hour broadcast. The coverage begins at 4:00 p.m. (EDT) and will also feature the Kentucky Cup Classic (gr. II) and the Kentucky Cup Sprint (gr. II).
The field for the Woodward will consist of:
1--Behrens, Jerry Bailey
2--Skimming, Garrett Gomez
3--Ecton Park, Chris McCarron
4--Gander, John Velazquez
5--Lemon Drop Kid, Edgar PradoAll starters will carry 126 pounds