Apr 24, 2015
AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-BELMONT OPENS 2015
By: JOE GIRARDI
long hard winter, with many cancellations, the racing at Aqueduct is finally
coming to an end. Belmont Park opens its doors on April 29th and
runs through Sunday July 19th. Hopefully with the move to Belmont
Park and Keeneland’s meeting coming to a
close, the quality of racing in New York will go up.
Park is a huge racetrack, 1 and ½ miles around. All races on the main track, up
to 1 and 1/8th miles are run around one turn, something that
definitely needs to be taken into account when wagering at Belmont. There are
two turf courses and look for many turf races to be run at Belmont, weather
stakes races get underway on opening day, Wednesday April 29th with
the Elusive Quality stakes, a race for four year olds and upward, run over the
turf at seven furlongs. There are three graded stakes races on Kentucky Derby
Day, May 2nd, the Fort Marcy a Grade III, is a race for four year
olds and upward, run over the turf at 1 and 1/8th miles carrying a
purse of $150,000. The Sheepshead Bay, a Grade II, is a race for fillies and
mares for four year olds and upward, run over the turf at 1 and 3/8ths miles
and carrying a purse of $200,000. Finally the Westchester, a Grade III, for
four year olds and upward, run over the main track at a mile with a purse of
$150,000. This race serves as a prep race for the Met Mile which will be run on
Belmont Stakes undercard for the second year in a row.
first Grade I of the meeting comes on the following week on May 9th
in the form of the Grade I Man O’War, a race for four year olds and upward, run
over the turf at 1 and 3/8ths miles and should host some of the top turf horses
in the country.
Grade I race will not be until Belmont Stakes day, June 6th. There
are 10 stakes races on that day, nine graded stakes races and six grade I’s.
The Grade I races are the Manhattan, a race for four year olds and upward, run
over the turf at 1 and ¼ miles with a purse of $1 million dollars. The Ogden
Phipps, a race for fillies and mares, four year olds and upward will be run
over the main track at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $1 million
dollars. The Just A Game is another Grade I race for fillies and mares, four
years old and upward run over the turf at one mile, the purse of the race is $700,000.
The Acorn, a race for three year old fillies will be run over the main track at
one mile and will carry a purse of $750,000. The Metropolitan Handicap, a race
for three year olds and upward over the main track at one mile will carry a
purse of $1.25k million dollars. This race was always run on Memorial Day but
NYRA wanted to try and enhance its big racing days so they moved this race to
Belmont Stakes day last year. Back in 1982, Conquistador Cielo, won the Met
Mile and then five days later won the Belmont, obviously we will not see that
again based on how the races are scheduled. Shared Belief, who came out of the
Charles Town Classic with an injury was being thought of to run in this race
but will not compete now, however the Met Mile should have a top notch field.
The final Grade I of the day will be the highlight of the meeting, the Belmont
Stakes. The final leg of the Triple Crown and the “Test of the Champion”, a
race for three year olds run over the grueling 1 and ½ miles distance with a purse
of $1.5 million dollars. Despite some problems that NYRA had serving the crowd
last year when California Chrome went for the Triple Crown, the racing was
exceptional and should offer some great betting opportunities.
year’s jockey standings for the Spring/Summer meeting was a dead-heat as Javier
Castellano and Irad Ortiz Jr. finished in a tie atop the standings with 51 wins
each. Joel Rosario was third with 42 wins, Jose Ortiz was fourth with 41 wins
and Cornelio Velasquez checked in fifth with 37 wins. Look for those top five
along with Jose Lezcano, John Velazquez, Junior Alvarado, Luis Saez, Rajiv
Maragh as well as apprentices, Angel Cruz and Eric Cancel to have an impact on
looking at the trainers standings last year it wasn’t a surprise to see Todd
Pletcher and Chad Brown take the top two spots with 28 and 24 wins
respectively. Christophe Clement, who trained the Belmont winner Tonalist
checked in third with 21 wins with David Jacobson and Linda Rice finishing
fourth and fifth with 19 and 18 wins respectively. Look for Jimmy Jerkens, who
had nine wins last year at this meeting but won at 35% to have a solid meeting
as well as Michelle Nevin and John Toscano Jr. who are both enjoying solid
meetings as Aqueduct comes to an end.
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