Plenty of Betting Options on NY Showcase Day

Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic, the marquee race on New York Showcase Day at Belmont Park, is so wide open that Rudina Stable's filly Board Elligible, has a big shot in a field of 15.

More than 100 horses bred in New York will run for more than $1 million on the day for New York breds.

Trainer Jimmy Ferraro opted to run the 4-year-old filly against males. Board Elligible finished a solid fourth-place in Grade 1 races against top fillies and mares such as Sightseek, Azeri, Society Selection and Storm Flag Flying. In the Beldame (gr. I) on Oct. 9, she was only beaten 4 ¾ lengths by Sightseek at 51-1.

"She's run great all year with the exception of a couple turf races," Ferraro said. "We're going to take a shot. It looks like a pretty light year for older New York-breds going long, with the exception of Funny Cide, who's not in the race."

Perhaps the biggest reason why Board Elligible is going to take on males is that there is not a stakes race Saturday for fillies and mares going long on dirt. Other options for the filly were the Ticonderoga on turf, a surface on which she is 0-for-4, and the seven-furlong Iroquois.

Board Elligible was assigned 116 pounds for the Empire Classic and Pablo Fragoso will ride.

Chowder's First, a New York Stallion Stakes winner at Saratoga over West Virginia Aug. 4, missed a rematch with West Virginia in the Albany because of a lung infection. Recovered from his illness, Chowder's First won an entry-level allowance against open company at Belmont Oct. 11.

"I'm worried because of the respiratory issue that 12 days between races is a little close," trainer Phil Serpe said. "But we have no choice. This race happens once a year and we're going. I think he's ready to go. Sometimes a little break, like the one he got late in the summer, gives you an edge over horses that have been running."

Chowder's First has never been beaten on dirt at Belmont Park, a perfect 3-for-3 at distances from 5 ½ furlongs to 1 1/8 miles.

"I think he was just starting to show his improvement over the summer," Serpe said. "Hopefully, he'll move up a couple more steps."

After his neck defeat to Chowder's First as the 1-2 Stallion Stakes favorite, Mary Zuckerman's West Virginia returned for a handy victory in the Albany before finishing up the track in the Jerome Handicap (gr. II).

"He broke slowly and kind of got pinched back," trainer Todd Pletcher said of the colt's Jerome effort. "By his own admission, Corey (Nakatani) said he let him get too far back. He tried to make a run from an impossible position."

Other stakes victors contesting the Empire Classic include Sherpa Guide (2002 Evan Shipman); Spite the Devil (2003 Withers and 2004 Shipman) and Traffic Chief (2003 New York Derby and Albany).
250,000 Empire Classic Handicap, 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles
The field for Saturday's $250,000 Empire Classic (race 10; 5:50 p.m.)
1. Mr. Determined, Richard DeMola, Shaun Bridgmohan, 113
2. Citizenship, Alan Goldberg, Julian Pimentel, 112
3. Rogue Agent, Richard Schosberg, Ramon Dominguez, 119
4. Sherpa Guide, Tom Bush, Aaron Gryder, 119
5. Chowders First, Phil Serpe, Edgar Prado, 115
6. West Virginia, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 117
7. Will's Journey, H. James Bond, Jorge Chavez, 114
8. Work With Me, Michael Gorham, Richard Migliore, 111
9. a-Everydayissaturday, Mike Hushion, Jose Espinoza, 113
10. Levendis, Del Carroll II, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 115
11. Spite the Devil, H. Allen Jerkens, Javier Castellano, 119
12. a-Traffic Chief, Mike Hushion, Jose Santos, 118
13. Seven Come Eleven, Mike Maker, Gretta Kuntzweiler, 112
14. Board Elligible, James Ferraro, Pablo Fragoso, 116
Also Eligible
15. Vault, Michael Brice, Heberto Castillo Jr., 112

Hudson: Best on card might be here
Gumpster Stable and trainer Bruce Levine had a tough decision to make regarding the status of Clever Electrician for Saturday. The five-year-old was nominated to the Empire Classic and probably would have been the horse to beat in there, but his connections opted to play it safe and run for half as much purse money because they feel the six-furlong distance of the $125,000 Hudson is a better fit.

"I've always believed he was a sprinter all along," Levine said. "Sprinting is what got him to where he is now."

Clever Electrician comes off consecutive stakes victories, taking the John Morrissey and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

Anstu Stables' Friendly Island has suffered just one defeat from five starts. That loss came in his second start, the Mike Lee. The three-year-old Crafty Friend colt only made his career debut in early June, breaking his maiden by 17 ¼ lengths.

In his only start outside of New York-bred company for Pletcher, Friendly Island dead-heated with My Poker Player in an entry-level allowance. My Poker Player returned to win the Maryland Million Sprint.

Papua, Top Shoter and Uncle Camie will test the top two.
$125,000 Hudson, 3 & up, 6 furlongs
1. Friendly Island, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 115
2. Clever Electrician, Bruce Levine, Ramon Dominguez, 121
3. Uncle Cammie, Mike Hushion, Richard Migliore, 119
4. Sea Cloud, George Weaver, Shaun Bridgmohan, 112
5. Salty Character, Ramon Hernandez, Edgar Prado, 110
6. Papua, Mike Hushion, Javier Castellano, 118
7. Affair in the Air, John Hertler, Fernando Jara, 112
8. Top Shoter, Charlton Baker, Paul Nicol Jr., 121

Iroquois: Sugar Punch tries to stay unbeaten for Dutrow
IEAH Stables' and Joe Torre's Sugar Punch has been perfect in five starts since being transferred to the Richard Dutrow Jr. barn. The 3-year-old filly has continually improved throughout the year, taking the Union Avenue and Schenectady in her last two starts defeating some of the same rivals she will face again in the $125,000 Iroquois at seven furlongs.

"She draws attention because all she does is win and she's a real sweetheart to be around," Dutrow said. "If you ever met her, you would really like her."

Chester and Mary Broman's Beautiful America is always tough in state-bred filly sprint races, although her lone 2004 victory came against open company in a May 19th optional claimer. Beautiful America may be a little suspect at seven furlongs, having lost her last two races at the distance, including last year's Iroquois.
$125,000 Iroquois, fillies & mares 3 & up, 7 furlongs
1. Distinctive Kitten, Edward Miller, Jorge Chavez, 115
2. Beautiful America, Ramon Hernandez Jose Santos, 119
3. Then She Laughs, Martin Ciresa, Stewart Elliott, 118
4. Fleet Indian, Jimmy Toner, Javier Castellano, 113
5. So Sweet a Cat, Ralph D'Alessandro, John Velazquez, 116
6. Sugar Punch, Richard Dutrow Jr., Edgar Prado, 120
7. You Promised, Gary Contessa, Pablo Fragoso, 112

Turf races: Wide open
The $150,000 Mohawk for males and $150,000 Ticonderoga for females will both be run at 1 1/8 miles on turf.

In the Mohawk, Golden Commander, who never made a rally in the Ashley T. Cole, a race won by entrymate Provincetown, returns to action. Trainer Serpe said that Golden Commander, the part of the entry taking more action in the Cole, came out of the race with a pulled stifle and was "very sore" for a few days, but has made a complete recovery.

An overflow field has been entered for the Ticonderoga. Twelve horses can be accommodated at the nine-furlong distance on the inner turf course.
$150,000 Mohawk, 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. a-Golden Commander, Phil Serpe, Edgar Prado, 118
2. a-Buff Naked, Phil Serpe, Fernando Jara, 110
3. Quiet Ruler, Russell Mueller, Heberto Castillo Jr., 113
4. Irish Colonial, Randy Schulhofer, John Velazquez, 119
5. Indian Card, James Jerkens, Javier Castellano, 114
6. World of Wonder, Mike Miceli, Richard Migliore, 115
7. Save the Profit, Todd Pletcher, Jose Santos, 113
8. Hristoforos, Gary Sciacca, Jose Espinoza, 111
9. Dont Knock America, Scott Schwartz, Pablo Fragoso, 112
10. Certifiably Crazy, John DeStefano Jr., Ramon Dominguez, 114
11. Rhythmic Motion, David Donk, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 114
12. No Parole, Joe Aquilino, Jorge Chavez, 117

$150,000 Ticonderoga, fillies & mares, 3 & up, 1 1/8 miles (turf)
1. Big Tease, Dominic Galluscio, Jean-Luc Samyn, 118
2. Buck Mountain, Kenneth Streicher, Javier Castellano, 118
3. Lady Libby, Steve Kappes, Jose Espinoza, 118
4. a-Little Buttercup, Todd Pletcher, Ramon Dominguez, 116
5. Bobbie Use, Richard Dutrow Jr., Edgar Prado, 114
6. Ma Femme, John Hertler, Julio Pezua, 118
7. Raffie's Dream, Dominic Galluscio, Aaron Gryder, 117
8. a-Beebe Lake, Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 118
9. Sabellina, Joseph Aquilino, Richard Migliore, 116
10. Kate Winslet, Richard Violette Jr., Jose Santos, 116
11. On the Bus, Dale Romans, Pablo Fragoso, 118
12. Perfect Energy, Gary Sciacca, Jorge Chavez, 118
Also Eligible
13. Expect Nothing, Ramon Hernandez, Shaun Bridgmohan, 113
14. The Lamp Is Lit, Richard Schosberg, Ramon Dominguez, 113
15. Letthefreedomroar, Mike Miceli, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 116
16. Bellanique, Phil Serpe, Fernando Jara, 112

Juveniles: All eyes on Galloping Grocer and Megascape
The shortest priced favorite of the day looms in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-olds at one mile, a race won two years ago by multiple grade I victor Funny Cide. This year Robert Rosenthal's Galloping Grocer, a most impressive winner breaking his maiden and taking an entry-level allowance, will be odds-on to stay undefeated for trainer Dominick Schettino.

In the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for fillies at one mile, Megascape will be the one to beat after defeating several members of this field in the Joseph A. Gimma Oct. 3.
$100,000 Maid of the Mist, 2-year-old fillies, 1 mile
1. Karakorum Splendor, Jimmy Jerkens, Pablo Fragoso, 116
2. Social Virtue, Richard Dutrow Jr., Javier Castellano, 116
3. No Way No How, Richard Stoklosa, Stewart Elliott, 116
4. Megascape, Steve Asmussen, John Velazquez, 122
5. Kiki B, John Hertler, Richard Migliore, 116
6. Speed Bag, Jeff Odintz, Ramon Dominguez, 116
7. Tiffany Touch, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 116
8. Royal Fudge, Ken McPeek, Jose Santos, 116
9. Pelham Bay, Pat Kelly, Shaun Bridgmohan, 118

$100,000 Sleepy Hollow,2-year-olds, 1 mile
1. Distinctive Trick, Uriah St. Lewis, Joe Rocco, 116
2. Galloping Grocer, Dominick Schettino, John Velazquez, 118
3. Carminooch, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 116
4. Naughty New Yorker, Pat Kelly, Jean-Luc Samyn, 114
5. Accurate, Steve Klesaris, Norberto Arroyo Jr., 116
6. Precision Perfect, Michael Gorham, Richard Migliore, 116