Gift Box impressive in return; Runaway Forest, Epping Forest sharp debut winners at Belmont

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

June 1st, 2016


There was no graded racing during the Holiday weekend at Belmont Park.

Track Stats

A total of 47 races were held at the Elmont, New York venue, with favorites winning at a 32 percent rate and the top two betting choices combining for 53 percent of the wins during the week. From 25 races on the main oval, four animals won in wire-to-wire fashion (16 percent), while six of the 22 grassy races were taken all the way on the lead (27 percent).

The turf was kind to all types despite six leading at every call this past week. Four of the wire jobs came on the inner surface, as is often the case.

Speed was not much of an advantage on dirt, with only four winners leading at the first call. Two of those occurred on Monday, with three coming in sprints and the other at a route.

Meet Totals












83 (40%)

2nd Choices:


46 (21%)

Turf Wire:


21 (21%)

Dirt Wire:


23 (19%)





Thursday (5/26)

2ND  – PAZ THE BOURBON (Mission Impazible) showed no early foot making her debut at five furlongs but the youngster got it going in the lane, finishing a clear second under Joel Rosario. The two-year-old filly could be tough next time with a better start for conditioner Mark Hennig.

8TH – Unraced since November, GIFT BOX (Twirling Candy) made a nice move entering the lane and sustained a powerful kick to the wire in a fine allowance tally for Chad Brown. The Kentucky-bred came home swiftly and will return to stakes competition off this eye-catching performance.

Friday (5/27)

1ST – MADE YOU LOOK (More Than Ready) was not all that swift from the gate but rallied well to be a nice second behind a sharp prospect in this grassy dash. The two-year-old colt will be graduating before long with expected improvement.

4TH – George Weaver’s CORT (Horse Greeley) was fast early and late in posting an authoritative score beneath Gabe Saez. The four-year-old gelding is in fine form and can be a player with a class rise next time out.

Saturday (5/28)

1ST – Conditioner Gary Contessa unveiled a fine prospect in RUNAWAY LUTE (Midnight Lute), who aired over this cast like a good thing. The juvenile colt will be stakes bound next time.

2ND – WHISKEY SEVEN (War Chant) was last at the head of the stretch but came home with a rush to win going away under Jose Ortiz. The Linda Rice pupil could be a nice one with more seasoning after a fine debut showing.

5TH – TAPA LIATH (Paddy O’Prado) took a nice lead nearing midstretch and stayed well to be a solid third in this turf endeavor. The three-year-old filly figures to be a major player in her subsequent try.

Sunday (5/29)

2ND – EPPING FOREST (Exchange Rate) did everything right in the debut offering and couldn’t have looked better recording a dominant tally for trainer Christophe Clement. The two-year-old filly could be a real nice one this season, and beyond.

Monday (5/30)

4TH – BAR OF GOLD (Medaglia d’Oro) overcame a tardy break from the inner post slot to win as was expected for trainer John Kimmel. The talented New York-bred filly could be in line for a very good summer.

7TH – TAPITATION (Tapit) has shown nice improvement since arriving in the barn of Ralph Nicks and was a deserving stakes winner in this one with a nice late rally over a solid field. The five-year-old gelding was aided by a swift pace some, but he still ran big and has more room for advancement.

A Look Ahead

Saturday’s Pennine Ridge (G3) is the lone graded event this weekend as we look forward to the Belmont Stakes Festival on June 9-11.