Volponi Heads Belmont BC Field

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.

After chasing top grass runners With Anticipation and Denon in the Sword Dancer, the son of Cryptoclearance should have an easier go of it Saturday. Jose Santos has the mount.

As a 2-year-old, Volponi broke his maiden on the turf in the Pilgrim Stakes. At three, he was a disappointment on the grass, but won the Pegasus on dirt at The Meadowlands later in the year.

Trainer Phil Johnson switched Volponi back to grass for the July 5th Poker, a race he won by better than lengths. The colt has been
game in defeat in his last two, only a neck behind Del Mar Show in the Bernard Baruch and two lengths behind With Anticipation and Denon.

"He's an honest horse and he loves the game," said Johnson, who added that Volponi will race again next year in an attempt to build his stallion resume. "Right now, he's best at a mile to a mile and a quarter. Next year, a mile and a half should be fine. You have to chase that gray (With Anticipation) horse's tail this year and that's not good."

Instead of heading to the Breeders' Cup Mile, which Johnson believes is the toughest race of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Volponi will be pointed to the Meadowlands Cup after Saturday.

Oak Cliff Stable's El Gran Papa will be switched back to turf for the
Belmont Breeders' Cup by trainer Bobby Frankel. The El Gran Senor 5-year-old started out the year on the turf but was not effective, then won two races on the dirt.

"It looks like Volponi's going to be tough to beat because he's the only speed in the race," Frankel said. "A small field might help El Gran Papa because he wants to come from behind and there shouldn't be much traffic."

The field, in post position order:

Spruce Run, John Velazquez, 113
Volponi, Jose Santos, 117
El Gran Papa, Edgar Prado, 114
Dr. Kashnikow, Jorge Chavez, 115
Startac, Jerry Bailey, 116
Good Boy Sam, Shaun Bridgmohan, 112