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Sep 15, 2006

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


The Belmont Park Fall Championship meeting opened its doors on Friday September 8th and runs through October 22nd before the racing switches to Aqueduct. In the first weekend we saw four Grade I races that will have an impact on the Breeders' Cup on November 4th at Churchill Downs.

On Saturday September 9th we got under way with the Grade I Garden City Breeders’ Cup for three year old fillies going 1 and 1/8th miles on the turf. The winner of the race was a Todd Pletcher trainee who has been having a great Summer so far as MAGNIFICENT SONG closed from last early on to get the job done over TAKE THE RIBBON as the slight 5-2 favorite. This improving three year old by UNBRIDLED’S SONG just continues to improve but she still isn’t as good as her stablemate WAIT A WHILE who will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Her trainer Todd Pletcher now has some options for MAGNIFICENT SONG but still may be a step below the best female turfers in the country.

In the next race the Grade I Gazelle for three year old fillies going 1 and 1/8th miles on the dirt we saw a good match-up between Mother Goose winner, BUSHFIRE and Alabama winner PINE ISLAND who lost to BUSHFIRE in the Mother Goose in only her third career start. TEAMMATE, who was second in the Alabama was also in the race along with WILD FIT who was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile fillies over this course last year and then was sold for over $3 million Dollars. So this field of six definitely had some quality to it and played out that way. BUSHFIRE, who was coming off a July layoff made the lead early on through some solid fractions, was challenged at the six furlong mark by TEAMMATE and easily gave up the lead to that rival before tiring to finish fifth. TEAMMATE, just like in the Alabama a month earlier held the lead into the stretch but didn’t have enough to hold off oncoming PINE ISLAND who got up for a length victory. In six career starts PINE ISLAND now has two Grade I wins and two second place finishes in a Grade I. She will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and will probably just be trained up to the race and will not look for another prep. TEAMMATE who has run lights out in these two races and had to settle for second both times is another that continues to get better and must be respected if she makes it to the big show for trainer Allen Jerkens. TEAMMATE was over nine lengths clear of the third place finisher LAST ROMANCE. BUSHFIRE who was a disappointing fifth was believed to tire because of the layoff, it just may be a case of these other horses have improved over the few months and are better than her.

The final Grade I of the day was the Man O’ War Stakes for three year olds and upward at 1 and 3/8ths miles on the turf. The favorite in the race was CACIQUE, who ran second in the Arlington Million along with the second choice, the good three year old SHOWING UP who coming into the race was undefeated in two turf starts. The pace was set by longshot RAMAZUTTI with SHOWING UP not far behind in second through moderate fractions. At the top of the lane, SHOWING UP took a short lead with the favorite CACIQUE unleashed, firing home the final 1/8th of a mile in under 11 seconds to get the job done. SHOWING UP was nailed on the wire for second in a good effort in his first try with older horses by GO DEPUTY. It looks like the first and third horses will move on to the Breeders’ Cup Turf with GO DEPUTY likely pointed towards the Canadian International at Woodbine on October 22nd.

An interesting note in the second race on Saturday we saw a very impressive first time starter in NOBIZ LIKE SHOBIZ. After stalking the pace in fourth he took over and drew away to score by more than 10 lengths while being geared down in a very fast 1:35:1. It looks like he will be pointed towards the Champagne stakes in his next start.

On Sunday September 10th, Belmont hosted the Grade 1 Ruffian stakes for three year olds and upward fillies and mares going 1 and 1/8th miles on the dirt. There were only five horses that went to the start with TAKE D’ TOUR going off as the slight 3-2 favorite over POOL LAND. After breaking on the lead, TAKE D’ TOUR showed the way through solid splits with POOL LAND not far behind. At the 1/8th POOL LAND finally wrested the lead from TAKE D’ TOUR and scored going away with TAKE D’ TOUR holding on for second and MISS SHOP closing well for third. CLASSY CHARM and SUMMERLY were fourth and fifth. Both horses will look towards the Breeders’ Cup Distaff with a prep in the Beldame a possibility for both.



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