Updated on 09/17/2011 11:48AM

Back on the grass - finally!


ELMONT, N.Y. - The sun shone brilliantly Monday morning and the mercury soared into the mid-80's, signaling that maybe, just maybe, summer has indeed arrived. The forecast calls for those same sunny skies and even hotter temperatures Wednesday, meaning that probably - well, hopefully - turf racing will return to Belmont Park.

Four grass races were carded for Wednesday, and if they are all run it would equal the number of turf races that have been run thus far this month at Belmont.

The feature is a $58,000 classified allowance at 1 1/4 miles, and it serves as a prep for the Bowling Green Handicap, scheduled for 1 3/8 miles on July 12. Defending Bowling Green winner Whitmore's Conn is in this 11-horse field, but so are several other stakes winners, making for a contentious heat.

Slew Valley and Dawn of the Condor make up a formidable coupled entry for trainer Gary Sciacca. Slew Valley, who finished second in the 2001 Bowling Green when trained by Michael Dickinson, came off a 15-month layoff to finish third behind Tap the Admiral and Krieger when a similarly conditioned allowance race was run at one mile on May 11. Sciacca had entered Slew Valley back several times since, only to have races not go or be taken off the turf.

Dawn of the Condor has not been out since finishing 10th, beaten only 4 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap Dec. 28 at Calder. After a freshening on the farm, Dawn of the Condor has turned in some impressive morning workouts.

"He's never trained as well as he's training right now," Sciacca said. "He looks fit and he's doing super."

Sciacca said that even though he missed a work for Slew Valley, he was happy with the horse's most recent drill, a half-mile in 47.80 seconds.

Dr. Kashnikow makes his third start off a layoff and gets a key rider switch to John Velazquez, who rode him to victory in the 2001 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga. Dr. Kashnikow finished last in an April 19 allowance race at Keeneland, but trainer Dr. John Fisher said the horse hurt his hip the morning of the race and probably should not have run. Most recently, Dr. Kashnikow finished third in the Louisville Handicap, the first time he had run farther than nine furlongs.

"I think he will clearly go that far - distance is not an issue," Fisher said. "Johnny's riding him, and I'm ecstatic to have him."

Whitmore's Conn is winless in six starts since taking the 2002 Bowling Green. He is coming off a third-place finish in the restricted Kingston Handicap.