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Oct 31, 2014



               The closing weekend at Belmont had four stakes races, two of them graded. The final weekend at Belmont was October 25-26th.

               On Saturday October 25th Belmont hosted the Grade III Bold Ruler Stakes, a race for three year olds and upward run over seven furlongs with a purse of $200,000. A field of seven went postward with River Rocks going off as the even money favorite on the strength of his second in the Grade II Kelso Handicap. River Rocks came out running from the start, set the pace through moderate fractions for this level of 22:4, 45:4, he led into the lane but couldn’t go with the closers late tiring to finish fourth in a solid final time of 1:21:4. Salutos Amigos, who stalked the leaders from fifth came with a strong run through the lane to score going away by more than three lengths over Confrontation who was a neck in front of Romansh. Salutos Amigos, who is trained by David Jacobson was entered in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with just one week in between races. He is in great form and may have a shot in that race.

               Later in the day they also hosted the Chelsea Flower, a race for two year old fillies run over one mile with a purse of $100,000. There was a 10 horse field with Miss Chatelaine going off as the favorite after an easy win in her debut. The fractions of the race were slow over the yielding course of 25:2, 51:2, 1:16:1, as they moved into the lane Margaret Reay held the lead over Unbridled Sonya, Miss Chatelaine, who was making her move, altered course twice and went on for an easy score, this well runner from the Clement barn has a bright future ahead of her.

               On closing day, Sunday, October 26th, there were two more stakes races. The Awad Stakes, a race for two year olds run over one mile over the turf. There was a field of seven that went postward with A Lot going off as the favorite. Also run over a yielding course the fractions of the race were 24:2, 50:4, 1:15:3 with a few horses contesting the pace. As they moved into the lane Vision Perfect, who stalked the leaders from fourth and he closed strongly to win by more than a length over Zandar who ran on well for second with Gustnado closing for third.

               Later in the day the last stakes race at Belmont was the Grade III Turnback The Alarm, a handicap race for fillies and mares, three years old and upward with a purse of $200,000. There was a field of eight that went postward with Tapit’s World going off as the slight favorite at 3.20-1. When the gates opened, Flores Island, a 12-1 shot came out running for the lead through moderate fractions of 24, 48, 1:12:4. As they moved into the lane the leaders began to tire and Dame Dorothy took over with Catch My Drift closing late but she couldn’t get up and had to settle for second to Dame Dorothy. Dame Dorothy, a Todd Pletcher trainee ran her record to 4 for 4 for owner, celebrity chef, Bobby Flay. This three year old filly by Bernardini is obviously talented but must have some issues with all those breaks in her running lines.

               Aqueduct opened up on Wednesday October 29th and NYRA has put out there about the $14 million in capital improvements. The Airport style seating replaces the old seats, 557 flat screen, HD televisions. There was some work done to the dorms and other things to increase the quality and safety of racing. I sure hope the NYRA doesn’t hurt themselves trying to pat their backs for these improvements. There is mandated money coming from the casino that should be used every year to improve the racetracks, the facilities, the barns, the dorms. I was greeted when I walked into Aqueduct on opening day by a concession stand that was offering a 20 oz cup of soda for $9, a bowl of soup for $9, a cheesesteak for $18. This must all be part of the enhanced “customer experience.” The Longshots Simulcast facility that NYRA has been talking about for the last few years, that finally opened in April of 2014 gives the customer an opportunity to go to a casino horse room. That’s basically what it is, a room with many TV’s, seats, no tellers and most importantly no windows. You wouldn’t know you were at a NYRA track if you didn’t know any better, but the $10 charge to get in, or a $5 charge for those who have a NYRA rewards card. Not sure why all this money was spent on this room and even a sliver of being at a live track. My best guess would be that in a few years, when they get table games at resorts world and Aqueduct is no longer hosting live racing, this could be used as a horse room for the casino.  But in the mean time, NYRA can tell us what a great place it is and most importantly what a great job they did.


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