06/17/2012 2:25PM

Belmont: Johannesburg Smile capitalizes on absence of Boys At Tosconova to take Lemon Drop Kid

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Johannesburg Smile scores a front-running under Cornelio Velazquez in the Lemon Drop Kid.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Had he his druthers, trainer Dominic Galluscio would have run Johannesburg Smile in a stakes restricted to New York-breds on Sunday rather than the Lemon Drop Kid versus open company at Belmont Park.

But when the New York-bred race didn’t fill, Galluscio decided to enter the Lemon Drop Kid and take his chances. When morning-line favorite Boys At Tosconova scratched, that aided Johannesburg Smile’s chances immensely.

Taking control of the pace from the outset under Cornelio Velasquez, Johannesburg Smile held off a late run from Schoolyard Dreams by one-half length to win the Lemon Drop Kid. It was 3 1/2 lengths back to Alma d’Oro, the 6-5 favorite, in third. Beau Choix and Colizeo completed the order of finish.

The win was the seventh from 22 lifetime starts for Johannesburg Smile, a 5-year-old son of Johannesburg owned and bred by Francis Paolangelli. It was his second stakes win, first against open company.

The scratch of Boys At Tosconova not only removed the favorite, but took the main speed horse out of the Lemon Drop Kid.

Velasquez took advantage and put Johannesburg Smile on the lead through fractions of 23.45 seconds for the quarter and 46.66 for the half-mile while being pursued by Colizeo and Beau Choix.

Johannesburg Smile ran away from those turning for home and held on to outlast Schoolyard Dreams, who rallied four wide in the stretch under Junior Alvarado.

Johannesburg Smile covered the mile in 1:35.48 and returned $5.20 to win as the second choice.

Meanwhile, Richard Dutrow Jr. said he scratched Boys At Tosconova out of the race because “I don’t feel like he’s on top of his game.”

Dutrow said he sent Boys At Tosconova, the 2010 Hopeful winner, to Dr. Larry Bramlage at the Rood Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. for an evaluation.

“I sent him to Dr. Bramlage to see what he can see because I can’t see anything,” Dutrow said.