07/05/2012 3:45PM

Belmont: Clement displays prowess with 2-year-olds on dirt


ELMONT, N.Y. – It’s not enough that trainer Christophe Clement is winning all the turf races at Belmont Park this meet. Now, he’s starting to be a factor in the juvenile races on dirt as well.

On Wednesday, Clement sent out Native One, a 2-year-old filly by Indian Charlie, to a good-looking six-length victory over heavily favored Sweet N Discreet, trained by Todd Pletcher.

Native One, owned and bred by Edward Cox Jr., ran five furlongs in 57.84 seconds and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 81.

“She trained well, she’s always been forward,” said Clement, who is enjoying a sensational meet with 18 winners from 74 starters, second only to Richard Dutrow Jr. “She’s done great for an owner-breeder who believed in us.”

Clement is not known for his prowess with 2-year-olds, especially this early in the year. Last week, he sent out Apple Cider to a second-place finish in a 2-year-old turf race. Friday, he was scheduled to run Copper Beeches in a maiden turf event.

“I’ve got a group of 2-year-olds that are probably a bit more forward than in other years,” Clement said. “I’ve run two so far at this meet and have another one [Friday]. I’ll have two or three running in Saratoga. I don’t see the point of waiting for Saratoga. If they’re ready to run, there’s nothing wrong with running them at Belmont. It’s a good place to run a 2-year-old.

“Usually we don’t get those kinds of horses,” Clement added. “So it’s nice when people trust us with those kinds of horses.”

Clement was non-committal on when Native One would make her next start. She – as is any 2-year-old maiden winner at this meet – is eligible to earn her connections a $100,000 bonus if able to win a graded juvenile stakes on this circuit the remainder of the year. The Grade 3 Schuylerville on July 20 is probably too close back, but the Grade 2 Adirondack on Aug. 12 could be a possibility.

Speaking of good-looking 2-year-olds, trainer Rick Violette sent out one in Carried Interest, a son of Henny Hughes who held off Palace Malice to win a five-furlong maiden race for colts by one-half length.

His final time of 56.62 seconds was just .87 of a second off Kelly Kip’s 16-year-old mark of 55.75.

Hunters Bay could run at Saratoga

Trainer Reade Baker, in New York this week to run Tu Endie Wei in Saturday’s Grade 3 Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont Park, may be targeting bigger prey in Saratoga later this summer.

Baker said Hunters Bay, who won last week’s Dominion Day Handicap at Woodbine, could come to Saratoga for either the Whitney on Aug. 4 or the Woodward on Sept. 1.

Hunters Bay, a 5-year-old son of Ghostzapper, has won three consecutive races over Woodbine’s synthetic surface. In his last start on dirt, he finished second to Pants On Fire in an allowance race at Gulfstream.

In the Dominion, Hunters Bay ran 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.11 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97. He had to work hard to defeat Pender Harbour, who attended a moderate pace.

“Tough to fire off three-quarters in 1:15, but he was good enough to run by them,” Baker said.

Doctor Chit takes to dirt

Doctor Chit, who had won two straight races on synthetic surfaces, made a successful dirt debut Thursday, scoring a front-running, 3 1/4-length victory in the $85,000 Western Larla Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters.

Sportswriter, a New York-bred son of Maybry’s Boy, got up for second by one-half length over Saint of Saints.

Under Javier Castellano, Doctor Chit ran fractions of 22.29 seconds,and 44.69, and covered six furlongs in 1:08.90. Doctor Chit returned $3.50.

Doctor Chit, owned by Mill House and trained by Todd Pletcher, could be a candidate for the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam at Saratoga on July 29.

◗ Both of Belmont’s firm turf courses yielded fast times in sprint races on Thursday.

In the opener, Economic Summit, coming off a 16-month layoff, won his turf debut by a nose over Becky’s Kitten. He ran seven furlongs over the Widener Turf course in 1:20.78, which was .90 of a second off the course record of 1:19.88 set 12 years ago by Officialpermission.

In the second, Southpaw Slammer ran six furlongs in 1:07.37 over the inner turf course. The track record is 1:06.87, set last year by Gantry.

◗ A reminder that there will be only four days of racing next week at Belmont, the final week of the meet. There is no live racing program on Wednesday.