Updated on 09/15/2011 2:32PM

Balto Star has much going for him


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Throw out his losses in three Grade 1 races and Balto Star has a 5-1-1 record from his last seven starts, including victories in the Spiral Stakes and Arkansas Derby. Add his terrific speed and his white-hot trainer and Balto Star looms the one to beat in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Queens County Handicap at Aqueduct.

A field of 11 was entered for the 1 3/16-mile Queens County, including defending Queens County winner Boston Party, Cat's at Home, Evening Attire, and *.

Balto Star, a 3-year-old son of Glitterman, makes his first start since finishing ninth in the Breeders' Cup Mile on turf. In that race, Balto Star dueled with City Zip through fractions of 22.79 seconds and 45.49 and helped set things up for Val Royal, whose final time of 1:32.05 was a stakes record.

"You can't go that fast against those kind of horses and stick around," said Balto Star's trainer, Todd Pletcher, who has won with seven of his last 16 starters in New York.

The last time Balto Star went turf to dirt, he finished second under Pat Day in the Grade 2 Kentucky Cup Classic, beaten a neck by Guided Tour.

"We let Guided Tour stay in the race too long," Pletcher said. "Maybe Pat should have tried to spread the race out at the three-eighths pole. Certainly it's no shame being second to an older horse that's made a couple million dollars."

Richard Migliore will ride Balto Star, who figures to be on the lead breaking from post 4. Top Official may try to go from the rail and Talk's Cheap will have to use his speed from the outside. Pletcher, who won the Cigar Mile and Demoiselle last Saturday, said he won't be concerned if either of those two horses are bent on having the lead.

"I think he could sit off it and be just as effective," Pletcher said of Balto Star.

Trainer Phil Johnson dropped a bit of a surprise when he entered Volponi, who last Saturday finished fourth in the Cigar Mile. Johnson said only bad results of a blood test taken from Volponi Thursday morning or an off track would make him scratch.

"It was a chance to run back at a distance that he likes without having to travel any more than from Belmont to Aqueduct," said Johnson, who added that Volponi would get a long vacation after Saturday.

Shaun Bridgmohan, Volponi's regular rider, had already committed to ride Discovery Handicap winner Evening Attire. Jose Velez Jr. will ride Volponi.

* Past Performances require Adobe Acrobat Reader.