Belmont Notebook


OCTOBER 3, 2012

by John Mucciolo

"Super Saturday" headlined the racing action last week at Belmont Park.

Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1): Preston Stables LLC's FLAT OUT (Flatter) earned an historic repeat in this race by running down a game Stay Thirsty (Bernardini) late in a thrilling finish. The six-year-old traveled 1 1/4 miles over a good main surface in 2:01 2/5 to win by a head for trainer Bill Mott and pilot Joel Rosario. Mott will be three-pronged in the Breeders' Cup Classic with Flat Out, Santa Anita Handicap winner Ron the Greek (Full Mandate) (sixth in the Gold Cup) and Grade 1 Woodward winner To Honor and Serve (Bernardini) (fourth in Saturday's Kelso).

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1): Phipps Stable's homebred POINT OF ENTRY (Dynaformer) continues on his fine winning streak, taking care of this field late under John Velazquez. The sensational four-year-old handled the yielding turf for conditioner Shug McGaughey, finishing 1 1/2 lengths clear while running 1 1/2 miles in 2:33 3/5. The Breeders' Cup Turf is next.

Beldame S. (G1): Besilu Stables' ROYAL DELTA (Empire Maker) took the lead approaching the final turn and cruised home an impressive 9 1/2-length winner of this one under Mike Smith. The Bill Mott trainee finished off nine panels on the "good" main oval in 1:48 4/5 to cement her status as one of the best distaffers in training, and she will highlight what is shaping up to be a dynamite Ladies Classic on November 2.

Flower Bowl Invitational (G1): Darley Stable's homebred NAHRAIN (GB) (Selkirk) powered home late to run down a clear one and earn a victory for trainer Roger Varian. The four-year-old filly endured 1 1/4 miles on the yielding turf in 2:05 2/5 under the guidance of Velazquez, scoring by a half-length, and the Filly & Mare Turf is next.

Vosburgh Invitational (G1): THE LUMBER GUY (Grand Slam) sat a dream trip tucked in behind a contested and fast early pace, and took command in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths under Velazquez. The talented sophomore, who was making his first start since May, stopped the teletimer in a swift 1:09 1/5 for trainer Michael Hushion. He will head to either the Sprint or Dirt Mile.

Kelso H. (G2): Charles Fipke's homebred JERSEY TOWN (Speightstown) tracked in third early, swept to the front in early stretch and was never seriously challenged late in a fine score for conditioner Barclay Tagg. The six-year-old sped one mile on the good oval in 1:35 1/5 beneath Javier Castellano, crossing the wire 3 1/2 lengths in front. The Dirt Mile is next.

Futurity S. (G2): Repole Stable's OVERANALYZE (Dixie Union) picked up his initial graded tally with a powerful 3 1/4-length win. Last early, the Todd Pletcher pupil closed with a big rush to stop the teletimer in 1:11 2/5 under Velazquez. The Breeders' Cup Juvenile is an option, but he could remain in New York for Repole with the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes as a late-season goal

Matron S. (G2): Stonestreet Stables' KAUAI KATIE (Malibu Moon) ran her unbeaten mark to three with an easy 7 1/2-length win in this one for trainer Todd Pletcher. The juvenile miss went six panels in 1:11 1/5 over the fast main oval under Rosie Napravnik. Her connections already have Dreaming of Julia (A.P. Indy) pointing toward the Juvenile Fillies and Kauai Katie could face males next time in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Sprint.

Track Stats

A total of 40 races were held at the Elmont, New York, venue, with favorites winning at a 45 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 60 percent of the wins during the week. From 22 races on the main oval, six animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while one of the 18 races on the lawn was taken all the way on the front (6 percent).

Going all the way on the front end on either turf course is very hard when the lawn has some give to it, and this week backed up that theory with just one winner leading at every call.

The main oval was mostly fair we thought, with horses wining from up front, stalking and closing from well back during the week. It is worth note, though, that 18 of the 22 main-track winners broke from outside post three this week, suggesting that the outer parts of the dirt surface were a bit best.

Meet Totals

RACES:   154
DIRT:   88
TURF:   66
FAVORITES:   48 (31 percent)
2ND CHOICES:   35 (23 percent)
TURF WIRE:   16 (24 percent)
DIRT WIRE:   22 (25 percent)


Wednesday (9/26)

4TH -- OSTOURAH (Teuflesberg) was very professional at first asking in here for conditioner Chad Brown, tracking the early leader and inching clear late in a fine first tally. The full-sister to multiple Grade 2 winner Trinniberg cost a lot of money at auction and could be a chip off the old block.

7TH -- TUCKERS POINT (Birdstone) was live in the early wagering and showed a lot of heart late in a solid runner-up showing off the eight-month layoff for conditioner Michael Mareina. We'd expect this gelded to be a big danger in his return.

Thursday (9/27)

6TH -- We were a bit surprised no one claimed YANKEE FORTUNE (Yankee Gentleman) out of this one, as the gelding dismantled this field on the class drop for trainer Rudy Rodriguez. Expect this one to be very tough next time with similar, or even on a slight class rise.

Saturday (9/29)

2ND -- Trainer David Donk is not knows for his prowess with juvenile debuters, so we'll keep an eye on winner STORMY LEN (Harlan's Holiday), who took action and lived up to the billing in this one. The colt didn't set the teletimer on fire, but he was always well placed and jockey Ramon Dominguez seemed confident throughout.

7TH -- POSEIDON'S WARRIOR (Speightstown) proved to us that his last was no fluke when bagging his first Grade 1 win at Saratoga, as he dueled on the front here and stayed on well to be third in this deep field. The four-year-old colt is pretty dark honest and could be a sleeper if he enters for the Breeders' Cup Sprint next month for trainer Robert Reid.

10TH -- Ron the Greek failed to run his best in this one, but the two-time Grade 1 winner was using this race as a prep for a bigger one down the road (Breeders' Cup Classic), and we still feel that he fits well with the best of the handicap division. Don't discount him off of this showing.

Sunday (9/30)

3RD -- We tabbed EMOLLIENT (Empire Maker) off of a fine second last time, and the Mott pupil showed us why with a fine tally in this one. The juvenile is precocious for a filly with a pedigree built for distance and we think she could have a very bright future ahead of her.

BRILLIANT JEWEL (A.P. Indy) was clearly second best in this field while more than six lengths clear of third, and the McGaughey debuter is another who should benefit from experience and maybe more distance. We have a feeling this will become a key race.

A Look Ahead

Five graded races will be contested this weekend at Belmont Park, with a trio of Grade 1 races on Saturday leading the way: $400,000 Champagne Stakes, $400,000 Frizette Stakes and $400,000 Jamaica. Sunday plays host to the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim Stakes and Grade 3, $150,000 Miss Grillo Stakes.