09/23/2011 3:47PM

Belmont: Havre de Grace staying in Beldame

Barbara D. Livingston
Trainer Larry Jones (right) and owner Rick Porter prefer to have star filly Havre de Grace run in the Beldame rather than tackle males in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Even before the defection of Tizway, owner Rick Porter said he was considering running his top older filly Havre de Grace in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. Ultimately, Porter and trainer Larry Jones decided to stay in next Saturday’s Grade 1, $350,000 Beldame Invitational against females.

Porter said he and Jones preferred the shorter distance of the Beldame, run at 1 1/8 miles, while hoping the race would be an easier spot to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup – whether it be the Classic against males or the Ladies’ Classic against females.

“We just felt with the amount of races we have going into the Breeders’ Cup – the Delaware Handicap, Woodward, and another race – and then to run back five weeks later we wanted to avoid really having to extend herself a lot,’’ Porter said. “Not that we might not have to, but on paper the Beldame looks a lot easier than the Jockey Club.’’

Havre de Grace is coming off a 1 1/4-length victory against males in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga. Before that, she was beaten a nose by Blind Luck in the Delaware Handicap. Earlier in the year, Havre de Grace won the Azeri and Grade 1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn and the Obeah at Delaware.

The field for the Beldame remains in somewhat in flux. Alabama winner Royal Delta is expected to run, but trainer Bill Mott has not ruled out running her in the Spinster at Keeneland. Life At Ten, last year’s Beldame winner, and Super Espresso are expected to run.