09/22/2010 3:05PM

Baletti back on his favorite turf course

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Angel Penna is hoping a drop in class and a return to Belmont Park helps reverse the fortunes of his graded stakes winning Baletti in Friday’s featured optional claiming race at 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf course.

Baletti, who won the Grade 3 Fort Marcy here in May, has struggled in his last two starts, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Monmouth Stakes in June and fifth in the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch at Saratoga on Aug. 27.

Baletti, a 6-year-old son of Gulch who is being offered for the optional claiming tag of $75,000, is 3 for 9 at Belmont, having won his last two starts over the course. Penna said that Baletti prefers the wider turns of Belmont to the tighter turns of Saratoga.

“He loves Belmont,” Penna said. “The thing that is difficult for this horse is the tighter turns. This track is good for him.”

Some pace would be good for Baletti as well and he may get it. Lemon Cream Pie, another horse who loves Belmont, returns from a lengthy layoff and figures to be part of the early pace. No Inflation and Nicanor are others who have shown speed.

Lemon Cream Pie makes his first start since March 28 when he finished fifth in a third-level allowance race at Gulfstream Park. He is 2 for 3 at Belmont, with a second-place finish.

Lemon Cream Pie has shown a propensity to run well fresh. Last year, he came off a 10-month layoff to win a first-level allowance race in front-running fashion over this course. In January, he came off a seven-week layoff to run second to Blues Street in an allowance race at Gulfstream. Blues Street came back to win another a couple of stakes at Fair Grounds.

Jimmy Jerkens, the trainer of Lemon Cream Pie, said the horse needed a break after racing four times over the hard turf course at Gulfstream Park.

“He wasn’t going quite right, we couldn’t figure out what it was,” Jerkens said. “He’s been training pretty good.”

Pleasant Strike and Skipadate finished one-half length apart in a race like this at Saratoga on Aug 25.

Nicanor, the 4-year-old half-brother to 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, comes out of a sixth-place finish in the Eight Thirty Stakes at Delaware Park on Aug. 25. Lime Rickey, who has recorded 2 of his 3 career victories at Belmont, completes the field.