09/21/2011 2:37PM

Belmont: Maple Forest, Roman Treasure renew rivalry in Positive Gal


ELMONT, N.Y. – A pair of $60,000 overnight stakes highlight Friday’s nine-race card at Belmont Park, though both could be impacted by Mother Nature.

With showers possible Wednesday through Friday, the $60,000 Positive Gal Stakes for 3-year-old fillies could be run over a wet main track while the $60,000 Third Martini could be run on soft turf or, depending how much rain falls, be moved to the main track.

Maple Forest and Roman Treasure, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, behind Hot Summer in the Grade 3 Victory Ride at Saratoga, meet again in the Positive Gal. Maple Forest, who has the rail, will likely try to use her speed again while being pursued by Roman Treasure, who has the outside post, but who has the speed to keep Maple Forest honest.

The race could set up for Moonlit Malibu, who has shown versatility in running first or second in nine of 12 career starts. Though her last two victories – both at Charles Town – have come on the front end, she finished a good second to Maple Forest in the Dearly Precious run at Monmouth on Aug. 10 from off the pace.

“She’ll be stalking I would think,’’ trainer Michael Trombetta said. “She steps up her game super strong at Charles Town for some reason, but she’s been able to run well just about anywhere. She’s training really good so we want to give her a shot.’’

Kendrick Carmouche rides Moonlit Malibu from post 4.

Roman Treasure won an overnight stakes here in June before finishing fifth in the Prioress and third in the Test. In the Victory Ride, Roman Treasure broke from post 8 and wound up chasing Maple Forest. Ramon Dominguez will once again have to choose whether to try to use Roman Treasure’s speed early or try and sit off of Maple Forest.

“I would have rather drawn the rail and let the other filly make the choice, but we’ll go with what we got,’’ said Mike Hushion, trainer of Roman Treasure.

Breathoffreshheir, who won the Ruthless over Aqueduct’s inner track in January, Tap for Luck, and Sentimental Lass complete the field.

A competitive field of 11 was entered for the Third Martini, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. Mr. Ryder has won 5 of 6 starts this year, including the $100,000 Sussex Stakes at Delaware in his last start on July 16. After a summer break, trainer Christophe Clement brings the 4-year-old Mr. Ryder back in this spot, which looks to be the toughest field he has met to date.

“I think he’s fit enough to run, I’m not sure he’s fit enough to give his best race yet,’’ Clement said.

Boots Ahead and Beau Choix both come out of the Grade 2 Bernard Baruch, a race won by Turallure, who came back to win Sunday’s Woodbine Mile.

Boots Ahead finished fourth in the Baruch after chasing the early pace. Trainer George Weaver said Boots Ahead jumped into the bridle earlier than he hoped after a bumping incident at the start. Weaver expressed concern about the weather forecast even though Boots Ahead has handled soft turf before.

“He likes some give in the ground,’’ Weaver said. “It’s very rare that I have a horse that I’m dying to run on a yielding turf course.’’

Beau Choix gave an uncharacteristically poor performance in the Baruch, finishing 10th of 11 after checking at the start.

“He got shut off early in the race and Jose [Lezcano] said he could not get him to pick the bridle up after that,’’ said Robin Smullen, assistant to trainer Barclay Tagg. “He’s come out of the race as well as he’s come out of any race. He likes give in the turf but maybe he didn’t like it that day.’’

Should the race come off turf, Hymn Book, runner-up in the Grade 2 Suburban, would become the horse to beat.