The Suburban Handicap (gr. I), the traditional holiday weekend feature at Belmont Park, may have lost one of it's big guns earlier in the week, but drew a strong field of eight headed by Pollard's Vision and fan favorite Funny Cide.
Eddington, impressive winner of the Pimlico Special (gr. I) in his last start, was being pointed toward the Suburban by trainer Mark Hennig. However, the 4-year-old son of Unbridled was retired from racing after some inflammation was found following a workout last Friday. He will take up stud duty at Claiborne Farm next year.
His defection leaves the starting highweight role to Pollard's Vision, who will carry 118 pounds. Second in the weights at 117 is two-time classic winner Funny Cide, who will be ridden for the first time by Hall of Fame rider Jerry Bailey.
Pollard's Vision was second behind Eddington in the May 20 Special. In his prior start, Edgewood Farm's star 4-year-old was a 1 1/4-length winner of the National Jockey Club Handicap (gr. III) at Hawthorne Park near Chicago. Interestingly enough, the Todd Pletcher-trained son of Carson City will be making only his second start at Belmont Park. On July 5, 2003, Pollard's Vision made his career debut at "Big Sandy," running seventh. The four-time graded stakes winner broke his maiden in his next attempt at Saratoga.
Out of the Dixieland Band
mare Etats Unis, Pollard's Vision has a 3-5-0 slate from 10 starts since running 17th behind Smarty Jones in last year's Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
His top rival, champion Funny Cide, is no stranger to Belmont Park. The 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner won the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont last year and is coming off a so-so effort in the Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) at nine furlongs over the track. In the Brooklyn, Funny Cide was squeezed between rivals heading into the far turn before eventually finishing fifth behind Limehouse. He was elevated to fourth via the stewards.
Funny Cide, trained by Barclay Tagg for Sackatoga Stable, ran fourth in the Pimlico Special in his first start of the year. The Distorted Humor
gelding has trained sharply for his third start of the season, ripping off a pair of bullet works: a :58 2/5 five-furlong drill June 23, and a :35 3/5 three-furlong blowout Thursday morning.
In last year's Suburban, Funny Cide was third in a blanket finish. Peace Rules
won the race by a neck, with Newfoundland
nipping Funny Cide by a nose on the wire.
Making his third Suburban appearance is the venerable 7-year-old gelding Evening Attire. He was fourth behind E Dubai
in 2002 and ran fifth behind Mineshaft
the following year. The Pat Kelly-trained Evening Attire will be making just his second start of the year while carrying 115 pounds in this year's Suburban. He finished sixth in the June 11 Brooklyn.
The son of Black Tie Affair
has a 11-12-3 slate from 40 starts and has earned more than $2.3 million for Mary and Joseph Grant and Thomas J. Kelly. At the distance at Belmont he is 1-0-1 from five starts, having annexed the Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2002.
The 119th running of the Suburban will be telecast live on ESPN during a two-hour program that starts at 4 p.m. EDT. Also shown from Belmont Park will be the New York Handicap (gr. IIT) for older turf females.Suburban Handicap (gr. I), $500,000, 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds and up, Belmont Park, Saturday, July 2
PP - Horse - Jockey - Weight
1 - Record Buster - Javier Castellano - 113
2 - Runaway Russy - Pablo Fragoso - 111
3 - Pollard's Vision - John Velazquez - 118
4 - Offlee Wild - Edgar Prado - 116
5 - Funny Cide - Jerry Bailey - 117
6 - Evening Attire - Jorge Chavez - 115
7 - Tap Day - Eibar Coa - 115
8 - Sir Shackleton - Rafael Bejarano - 116