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Belmont: John’s Mariah a contender on turf or dirt in Voodoo Dancer
ELMONT, N.Y. – It doesn’t matter to trainer Carlos Martin whether Friday’s $80,000 Voodoo Dancer Stakes is run on turf, as scheduled, or if it has to be moved to the main track. He believes his 2-year-old filly John’s Mariah is capable of winning the race on either surface.
John’s Mariah is one of seven juvenile fillies entered for the Voodoo Dancer, scheduled for seven furlongs on Belmont Park’s Widener turf course. Wet weather this week, however, forced the turf racing to be canceled here both Wednesday and Thursday. There was more rain in the forecast for Thursday, though Friday was expected to be sunny.
John’s Mariah, a New York-bred daughter of Freud, comes off a maiden victory over a Belmont course labeled good on Sept. 8 after encountering trouble when fourth to Bourbon Twist in a maiden race at Saratoga on Aug. 22.
“I think she’ll run on anything, this filly,” Martin said. “She looks like she’s the kind of filly that’s improving. I don’t think the turf course will be an issue. She ran in Saratoga and the race was a lot better than it looked.”
Martin said that jockey Wilmer Garcia was forced to steady the filly several times in that race, where she was beaten 1 3/4 lengths for second. In her win at Belmont, John’s Mariah won while on the lead under Javier Castellano.
“She showed speed which she never showed before,” said Martin, who has Cornelio Velasquez to ride from post 2. “I think she can sit. This race looks like it has some speed with some fillies coming out of [sprints]. She should sit a good trip and hopefully she’ll give a good account of herself.”
John’s Mariah may be even more dangerous if the race is run on dirt. She finished second in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Saratoga in the mud. The winner of that race came back to win at Belmont.
“Off the turf it would probably benefit her even more because she can handle a wet track,” Martin said.
On turf, Coconut Shrimp is the horse to beat. She won her debut sprinting at Saratoga before finishing fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths in the Grade 2 Natalma at Woodbine on Sept. 15.
Heading to Toga and Discreet Marq are the two speeds of the race. Heading to Toga won her debut by five lengths at Saratoga on Aug. 17. Discreet Marq won her second start, her first on turf, at Saratoga on Aug. 30.
With Sugar On Top, Flattermewithroses, and Sensational Appeal complete the field.
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