The 1 1/4-mile Bowling Green is race 3 on a 10-race opening day card for Belmont's fall meet, with an approximate post time of 1:54 p.m. EDT. In addition to five 4-year-olds starting in the inner turf event, trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. has entered Jay Em Ess Stable's Redeemed for the main track only.
Air Support, a 4-year-old son of Smart Strike, comes into the race winless for the season but has been knocking on the door in three recent tries for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. The 2011 Virginia Derby (gr. IIT) winner finished third in a $95,000 allowance optional claimer going 1 1/16 miles on a yielding turf course at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 6., was runner-up to Turbo Compressor in the July 7 United Nations (gr. IT) at Monmouth Park, and missed the June 16 Colonial Turf Cup Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths to the same foe after a bad break and a wide trip.
The colt has worked three times since Aug. 6, turning in a half-mile breeze in :47.45 Sept. 3, one week after covering the same distance in :46.77.
"With how well he worked Monday, and has been working, we've been excited about running him, just like we were with (grade III Glens Falls Stakes winner) Hit It Rich," said McGaughey, whose runners were 7-6-4 from 42 starts at Saratoga with earnings of $1,021,459. "It would be fun to keep the momentum going. I've always liked the Belmont fall meet, and I think we have a bit of everything we can run. Obviously, it's going to get tougher, but I'm looking forward to running on Saturday."
Recent Hall of Fame inductee John Velazquez rides from the rail, and McGaughey said the typical closer could run a little nearer the pace this time out.
"I think Johnny will have him up in the race if there isn't any pace," said McGaughey, who has won eight graded stakes on the turf this year. "With a short field, they're going to be galloping around there. I think he'll be laying close. If he's on the lead, that wouldn't bother me."
Brilliant Speed, third by 6 1/2 lengths to Air Support's stablemate Point of Entry in the Aug. 18 Sword Dancer Invitational Handicap (gr. IT), also has not won since 2011. The Dynaformer colt's best finish in recent times came in the Sword Dancer; he was sixth in the United Nations and fifth in the June 9 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap (gr. IT) at Belmont, while starting the year with a fifth-place finish in the March 31 Appleton Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Gulfstream Park followed by a third in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes (gr. IT) May 5 at Churchill Downs.
The Tom Albertrani runner's latest win came in last year's Saranac Stakes (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga, a victory he followed with a runner-up finish in the Jamaica Handicap (gr. IIT) at Belmont and a third in the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) for Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation.
Javier Castellano makes up part of a 117-pound assignment from post 2.
Also carrying 117 pounds is James Karp's Newsdad, fourth behind Point of Entry in both the Sword Dancer and in the July 14 Man o' War Stakes (gr. IT), and winner of the Pan American Stakes (gr. IIT) over just three others in March but has been off the board in three tries since then.
Earlier in the year the 4-year-old son of Arch used an allowance optional claimer victory to transition back to the graded ranks, with a runner-up finish for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott in the Feb. 26 Mac Diarmida Stakes (gr. IIT). He raced unsuccessfully in graded company in 2011 but did nab a third in the Palm Beach Stakes (gr. IIIT) and finished fourth in the Virginia Derby won by Air Support.
Junior Alvarado rides from post 3.
Bombaguia, who came from just off the pace to win an Aug. 26 allowance optional claimer going 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga lawn, and Brujo de Olleros, a Brazilian-bred runner making just his second start in the U.S. for trainer Graham Motion, complete the field.
Bombaguia, a Borrego gelding, makes his first start in stakes company for Goldmark Farm and trainer John Kimmel. Brujo de Olleros, by Wild Event, won a Jan. 6 grade I in Maronas before he was purchased by Team Valor International and Richard Santulli. He finished fourth in the July 29 Majestic Light Stakes going 1 1/16 miles on the dirt at Monmouth in his U.S. debut.
Edgar Prado has the mount on Bombaguia, assigned 114 pounds, from post four. Julien Leparoux gets the call on Brujo de Olleros from the 5 hole.
$200,000 Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT, Race 3, approximate post 1:54 p.m. EDT), 3YOs & Up, 1 1/4 miles (inner turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, Trainer
1. Air Support (KY), J.R. Velazquez, 118, C R McGaughey III
2. Brilliant Speed (FL), J. Castellano, 117, T Albertrani
3. Newsdad (KY), J. Alvarado, 117, W I Mott
4. Bombaguia (KY), E.S. Prado, 114, J C Kimmel
5. Brujo de Olleros (BRZ), J.R. Leparoux, 112, H G Motion