Toll Taker, Flamenco Take Belmont Stakes

Toll Taker surprised favorite Im a Dixie Girl by 3 1/4 lengths in the Astarita and Flamenco won the Cowdin by three-quarters of a length Sunday in a pair of juvenile stakes at Belmont Park.

In the $108,000 Astarita Stakes (gr. III) for 2-year-old fillies, Toll Taker, ridden by Eibar Coa, drew off through the final furlong, covering 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:18 and paying $15.40, $5.50 and $3.

Im a Dixie Girl, the 17-10 favorite in the field of six returned $3.40 and $2.60 with Richard Miglore aboard. Summer Raven, Javier Castellano riding, paid $2.40 to show.

Toll Taker settled in along the inside behind a contested pace between Im a Dixie Girl and Summer Raven of :22 4/5 and :47, angling to the outside while four wide to engage them at the head of the stretch. She was easily the best in the final furlong.

Toll Taker, coming off a 10-length allowance victory at Monmouth Sept.10 for trainer Timothy Hills, won for the third time in five starts. The Illinois-bred daughter of Bernstein-Tappanzee (Bet Big) earned $64,800 for owner Patrick Walsh to improve her bankroll to $114,240.

(Chart, Equibase)

For the second time in three years, trainer Todd Pletcher saddled the winner of the Cowdin Stakes as Flamenco held off Better Than Bonds in the $75,900 race for 2-year-olds.

Flamenco covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17 1/5 and paid $3, $2.50 and $2.10. The win was the third in five career starts for the Florida-bred colt by Dance Master.

Pletcher also saddled 2002 winner Boston Bull.

Better Than Bonds paid $5.10 and $2.10, and Upscaled returned $2.10 to show.

(Chart, Equibase)