Fleet Indian looks to be the likely favorite in the $600,000 Beldame Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont Park Oct. 7. The 5-year-old daughter of Indian Charlie
has been a perfect 5-for-5 in 2006 for her new connections.
Paul Saylor purchased Fleet Indian for $290,000 at the 2006 Keeneland January mixed sale and decided to put her in training with Todd Pletcher. The dark bay or brown mare won the Personal Ensign Stakes (gr. I) in her last start and has also captured the Delaware (gr. II), Sixty Sails (gr. III), Next Move (gr. III), and Obeah Handicaps this year. Saylor won last year's Beldame with the champion racemare Ashado, who he owned in partnership with Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stable and Johns Martin.
"I think Fleet Indian is doing as well as she has all year," Pletcher said in a release from the New York Racing Association. "She's really training fantastic."
Fleet Indian is known for her front running style, but on paper the Beldame is shaping up to have a fast pace.
"The interesting question is if she can duplicate the same kind of effort when she is not on the lead," Pletcher said. "Her strength is she's able to click off :12s over and over again, so we'll see if she can do that while stalking somebody."
A small but very talented group of fillies and mares will compete against Fleet Indian, and it is led by Darley Stable's Balleto. The 4-year-old filly missed all of her 3-year-old season and was actually retired before her connections decided to bring her back this year. The daughter of Timber Country finished second behind Fleet Indian in the Personal Ensign.
"The pace scenario is going to set up for us this time," said her trainer, Tom Albertrani, who later on Saturday will saddle 3-year-old sensation Bernardini in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I). "The last race, she really had a tough task going after Fleet Indian and she still ran well. She seems to be at her best right now. If she keeps her same level, she hopefully will be the one to turn the table on Fleet Indian."
Grade I winners Round Pond, Sweet Symphony, and Take D' Tour will also be there to challenge in the 1 1/8-mile race as well as grade II winner Teammate. The front-running Take D' Tour will ensure that there is a quick pace. Sweet Symphony, winner of the 2005 Alabama Stakes (gr. I), finished fourth in last year's addition of the Beldame.
The field for Saturday's $600,000 Beldame (gr. I) includes:
1 -- Take D' Tour (Cornelio Velasquez, 123)
2 -- Fleet Indian (Jose Santos, 123)
3 -- Sweet Symphony (Fernando Jara, 123)
4 –- Teammate (Cornelio Velasquez, 120)
5 -- Round Pond (Joe Bravo, 123)
6 –- Balletto (Javier Castellano, 123)