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Sep 09, 2005

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD

By: JOE GIRARDI


With the close of the Saratoga meeting on September 5th the racing in New York heads back downstate to beautiful Belmont Park. On Friday September 9th Belmont Park opens its doors for the Belmont Park Fall Meeting which runs through October 30th, the day after the Breeders’ Cup. This meet is as important as any meeting in New York this year, probably even more important than the Saratoga meeting. With the troubles NYRA has run into off the track they need a good meeting here and a solid showing at the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championship on October 29th. NYRA’s franchise to run Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga expires in 28 months. A decision as to whether or not they can bid on the renewal is expected soon.

Besides the Breeders’ Cup, there will be a total of 46 stakes races worth $11.7 million. Belmont will host 13 Grade I races in addition to the Breeders’ Cup races. The first weekend, September 10-11th, there will be five Grade I races. On Saturday September 10th there will four Grade I races, the Man O’ War, the Gazelle, the Garden City Breeders’ Cup and the Woodward Handicap. The Woodward will see the rematch between COMMENTATOR and SAINT LIAM, 1-2 finishers in the Whitney at Saratoga. SAINT LIAM was one of the leading handicap horses heading into the Whitney but disappointed as the favorite. He will get a chance to redeem himself in the Woodward and will be right back at the top of the list with a victory in that race.

BETTER TALK NOW last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner is expected to race in the Man O’ War on Saturday. This along with the other three Grade I races should make for a very exciting opening weekend. On Sunday the Grade I Ruffian will be run which will see the fillies and mares in action as they prepare for the Breeders’ Cup.

The following weekend will see the Grade I Matron, which will be run on September 17th, for two year old fillies. Two weeks later Belmont will host another huge weekend on October 1st. With almost $4 million in purses it is almost like another Breeders Cup card. Five big Grade I races all of them having a huge impact on the Breeders’ Cup will be run that day. The big race is the Grade I, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup for three years old and upward. However, the race is expected to see the rematch of the Travers when three year old FLOWER ALLEY defeated fellow three year old BELLAMY ROAD. A win in that race by either horse followed up by a win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic can make the eclipse award pictures very murky. BORREGO, the Pacific Classic hero is also expected to run in that race. The Flower Bowl and Joe Hirsch Turf Classic are major prep races for Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Turf respectively. The Beldame will feature the fillies and mares headed to the Breeders’ Cup and the Vosburgh will be the prep that many sprinters will use heading into the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

The preps for the Breeders’ Cup end the following week on October 8th when Belmont hosts the Grade I Champagne and Frizette Stakes. Both of these races carry a purse of $500,000, with the Champagne for two year olds and the Frizette for two year old fillies.

Although the Breeders’ Cup and the prep races leading up to that day are the highlight of this huge meeting there is still another day that will bring just as much excitement and will offer another great day for betting. On October 22nd, Belmont will host New York Showcase Day, sort of the Breeders’ Cup for New York breds. Seven stakes races for New York breds ending with the $250,000 Empire Classic for three years old and upward statebreds will be run and is the perfect lead in to the Breeders’ Cup the following week.

This should make for a great meeting all around— the betting opportunities will be there from the start to the finish.



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