07/10/2013 12:55PM

Belmont: Blingo's long break may not matter in turf feature


ELMONT, N.Y. – Away from the races for 11 months, Blingo looks to jump-start his once-promising career in a $74,000 second-level turf allowance race that serves as the feature on Belmont Park’s fifth and final “Party at the Park” card on Friday. First post is 3 p.m. Eastern.

Given that trainer John Shirreffs’s two winners this meet came with a first-time starter and a horse who had been off more than six months, the 11-month layoff should not be disconcerting to those looking to wager on Blingo. Moreover, Blingo has worked 17 times since February.

A 4-year-old gelding by Artie Schiller, Blingo won 2 of 7 starts in Southern California. He won a maiden race at first asking going a mile on turf at Betfair Hollywood Park as a 2-year-old and took the La Puenta Stakes going 1 1/8 miles on turf at Santa Anita as a 3-year-old. He has not run since finishing last in the Grade 2 La Jolla Handicap at Del Mar last Aug. 11.

“He was just immature so we gave him some time off,” Shirreffs said Wednesday. “He’s been training very well. We thought he was a really nice horse but didn’t want to jeopardize his future.”

The seven furlongs of Friday’s race will be the shortest distance at which Blingo has run.

“This seemed like a good place to start,” Shirreffs said. “He definitely wants to go longer.”

Junior Alvarado rides from post 3.

There figures to be speed inside of him with Mia Poppy breaking from the rail and Sayaad from post 2. Sayaad won a six-furlong allowance over the Polytrack at Keeneland before finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Hill Prince going a mile on the turf at Belmont.

In the Hill Prince, Sayaad stumbled badly at the start and was 12 lengths out of it early, farther back than he previously had been accustomed. He made up ground and finished fifth, only 3 1/2 lengths behind Notacatbutallama.

“I was happy with the way he ended up running,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said of Sayaad’s effort in the Hill Prince. “I thought he was a go, go, go six-furlong horse. Now, I feel he can run further.”

McLaughlin does expect that, with a clean break, Sayaad will be close to the pace early. He did note, however, that his jockey, Jose Lezcano, “is not on the lead that often.”

Hear the Footsteps, a New York-bred gelding by Read the Footnotes trained by Linda Rice, is 2 for 2 sprinting on turf at this meet, including an open-company score at seven furlongs on July 3.

Magical Season, for the team of trainer Mike Maker and jockey Joel Rosario, and the European import Majestic Jess, are both in for the optional claiming tag of $62,500.

Trainer Richard Small ships in the uncoupled entry of Just Sayin and Perilous Indian from Maryland.

Hannibal Lecter, Romancing the Gold, and Uncle T Seven are entered in the event the race is moved to the main track.