05/01/2013 1:31PM

Belmont: Kharafa makes season debut in turf allowance


The long and the short of it on Friday’s 10-race card are a pair of optional claimers with first-level allowance conditions. Race 9 is a $77,000 route scheduled for the Widener turf at 1 1/16 miles; race 4 is a $72,000 dirt sprint at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Six of 11 entered for turf in race 9 are New York-breds, perhaps with an eye toward the $125,000 Kingston Stakes on the newly added New York Showcase Day program June 1. The eclectic sextet is headed by Kharafa, who came into his own during the second half of last year; the venerable Gimme Credit, a 10-year-old gelding just claimed from a big win at Aqueduct by David Jacobson; and Reaching Out, a promising Big Brown homebred 3-year-old who has won three of his first four starts on dirt.

Kharafa won or placed in his last four starts as a 3-year-old, winning two allowance races on this circuit and concluding the season in late December with a runner-up finish in the El Prado Stakes at Gulfstream Park, for which he earned a career top Beyer of 95.

“His last two races were really strong, especially the race at Gulfstream,” trainer Tim Hills said. “That’s what convinced us to give him a little break over the winter and plan for a long campaign in New York this year.”

Kharafa, who was gelded over the winter, has either run a new Beyer top or matched his top Beyer in four starts on turf at Belmont.

Also in the field is Ampersand, who makes his first start since last October. A deep closer, he won three races for Rick Violette Jr. last year, capped by a neck victory over Gimme Credit in which he trailed for six furlongs before rallying to get up late.

The Mike Maker-trained Cantonic, who won four in a row against open company last spring and summer, also makes his first start since last fall.

Idle American, whose three turf wins have all come at Aqueduct, makes his first start since mid-February for Pat Kelly.

Citizen Wells, Giant Indian, Plainview, Ruthless Alley, and Stormy Len also entered.

Six fillies and mares square off in race 4, with Magical Weekend expected to go postward as a slight favorite off a maiden win at Gulfstream Park and subsequent trainer change to Chad Brown.

Belle Gannantey, Finders Key, Hot Roots, McCarren Park, and Unabashed complete the lineup.