09/19/2011 2:06PM

Belmont: Gantry gives route another try in turf feature

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Even though Gantry was fast enough to set a Belmont Park inner turf course record for six furlongs, his connections felt he was a horse who should be successful going a route of ground.

Given how wide a trip Gantry had when he finished eighth in a one-mile race at Saratoga last month, trainer Mike Hushion will not use that effort as a true barometer of his chances to get a distance.

“I’m going to say it’s a throw-out,’’ Hushion said. “He was extremely wide both turns; you just can’t do that. He didn’t even know he was in a race half the time. I’m still scratching my head over that trip.’’

Hushion hopes to be less perplexed Wednesday afternoon when he sends Gantry 1 1/16 miles in a second-level optional $50,000 claiming race that serves as the feature at Belmont. A pretty evenly matched field of 10 was entered provided the race stays on the turf. Cool Blue Red Hot would be a standout among the five horses entered for main-track only.

Gantry is a son of Pulpit out of the mare Rhum, who won several races at Belmont, including the Ticonderoga at 1 1/8 miles. In fact, the seven-time winning mare didn’t even run in races less than a mile in distance.

In June, Ganty returned from a seven-month layoff to win a six-furlong first level allowance by 3 3/4 lengths while running the distance in a course record 1:06.87. He may have regressed, or bounced, when he came back 23 days later in the Grade 3 Jaipur. His one start since then was the race in Saratoga where he was beaten 5 1/2 lengths despite the wide trip.

Hushion is looking forward to reuniting Gantry with John Velazquez, who was aboard for the course-record setting performance.

Close Ally is the lone 3-year-old in the field and he comes out of a third-place finish – beaten only one length – in a similar spot as this on Aug. 10 at Saratoga. That race was at 1 3/16 miles whereas Wednesday he cuts back to 1 1/16 miles, which trainer Neil Howard prefers for the son of Giant’s Causeway.

“I think he’s pretty versatile on distance,’’ Howard said. “I think he could be even more effective at a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth to tell you the truth.’’

The ultra-consistent Unaccountable is hard to leave off any ticket. He has finished in the top three in 19 of 22 career starts and is 3 for 4 at Belmont, including a win over the course here on June 2. He twice finished second in this condition at Saratoga.

Gathering Cloud is a perennial bridesmaid having finished second seven times in 13 starts, including all four tries at Belmont. Ramon Dominguez does pick up the mount for the first time.

Monument Hill and Unbridled Heat are both in for the optional claiming tag of $50,000 and are not without a shot.