Favorites perform well as Breeders' Cup contenders tune up in Belmont stakes

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September 30th, 2015


A six-pack of graded races headlined the third weekend at Belmont Park.

Beldame S. (G1): Godolphin homebred WEDDING TOAST (Street Sense) grabbed the edge soon after the start and was never headed en route to a 2 ¾-length tally with Jose Lezcano in the silks. The Kiaran McLaughlin trainee endured 1 1/8 miles on the fast main oval in 1:47 3/5.

Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1): Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s BIG BLUE KITTEN (Kitten’s Joy) launched a big move to gain a clear edge in early stretch and the seven-year-old powerfully held off a nice field in establishing a new course, completing 1 ½ miles on turf in 2:23 2/5 for trainer Chad Brown and jockey Joe Brown.

Vosburgh S. (G1): Stonestreet Stables’ ROCK FALL (Speightstown) tracked close up on the outside, gained a narrow edge in midstretch and then held off a pair of live ones in posting a neck decision with Javier Castellano. The surging four-year-old colt went six furlongs in 1:08 3/5 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Gallant Bloom H. (G2): Lady Sheila’s Stable LA VERDAD (Yes It’s True) gained the advantage shortly after the break and held on late, securing a half-length victory for conditioner Linda Rice. The five-year-old mare, who was piloted by Jose Ortiz, sped 6 ½ panels in 1:15.

Pilgrim S. (G2): Matthew Schera’s ISOTHERM (Lonhro) went widest of all while offering a big late run to post a neck victory for George Weaver. The two-year-old colt finished off 1 1/16 miles on the firm turf in 1:41 4/5 with Jose Lezcano.

Miss Grillo S. (G2): My Meadowview Farm’s homebred TIN TYPE GAL (Tapit) moved into prime contention in late stretch and gamely got up by a nose en route to her first stakes score. The Graham Motion pupil got past a nice one in going 1 1/16 miles on turf in 1:41 2/5 with Luis Saez.

Track Stats

A total of 50 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 40 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 58 percent of the wins during the week. From 22 races on the main oval, six animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (27 percent), while four of the 28 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (14 percent).  

Of the six wire jobs on the main oval, four came in sprint races and the other pair going long. We thought the main oval played well for all types, as it often does at this venue.

A trio of the four sprint wire-to-wire winners came in sprint events, and three on the outer turf course, as well. As with the dirt surface, any kind could succeed on the green.

Meet Totals












43 (35%)

2ND Choices:


26 (21%)

Turf Wire:


6 (10%)

Dirt Wire:


13 (20%)


Wednesday (9/23)

3RD – MARKING (Bernardini) took a ton of money at first asking and lived up to the hype with a 2 ¾-length win for conditioner Kiaran McLaughlin. The Godolphin homebred was full of run late in completing 6 ½ furlongs in a solid 1:15 2/5 and the sophomore could be a good one.

5TH – McLaughlin unveiled another promising one on this day in TRAPPE PLAY (Trappe Shot), as the juvenile filly was always in the mix and strode clear to a convincing win under the wire. The dark bay New York-bred didn’t run all that swiftly but passed the test from a visual standpoint.

Thursday (9/24)

7TH – SKIPALUTE (Midnight Lute) showed no rust from the long layoff in powering home over this allowance field under Javier Castellano. The Ralph Nicks trainee will be tough in her debut with winners next time with any type of improvement off this performance.

Friday (9/25)

7TH – STRIKE  MIDNIGHT (Smart Strike) tracked close to an average pace, swept to the lead nearing midstretch and dominated the final furlong in a very nice maiden tally for trainer Leah Gyarmati. The two-year-old colt came home in a swift :22 2/5 and could be a nice prospect for sure. 

Saturday (9/26)

2ND – RAPPEL (Elusive Quality) has now put in a trio of nice runs to start his career and could evolve into a nice one for conditioner Robert Ribaudo, who doesn’t get too many precocious juveniles in his barn. The two-year-old colt should be stakes bound soon and is bred to run long.

5TH – CURALINA (Curlin) wasn’t catching the loose-on-the-lead winner, but the Todd Pletcher trainee finished five lengths clear in second in a solid tune-up for the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

8TH – The win by Isotherm might be better than it appears on paper as the colt had to go so wide and still got the job done. This talented juvenile appears to possess a bright future.

A Look Ahead

Six graded races will take place Saturday at Belmont Park. The big one is the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1), which will be accompanied by the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational (G1), $500,000 Champagne S. (G1), $400,000 Frizette S. (G1), $400,000 Kelso H. (G2) and $500,000 Hill Prince S. (G3).