10/18/2011 12:03PM

Belmont: McGaughey hopes history repeats with Hymn Book


ELMONT, N.Y. – At Belmont Park’s spring meet, Shug McGaughey sent out Hymn Book and Boisterous to win off-turf and on-turf versions of the Three Coins Up overnight stakes three days apart.

After winning Saturday’s Knickerbocker Stakes with a freshened Boisterous, McGaughey looks to do the same thing with Hymn Book in Thursday’s Firethorn overnight stakes. The 5-year-old Hymn Book makes his first start since a sixth-place finish in the Bernard Baruch over a turf course labeled good.

“Hopefully, they’ll go back to back again,” said McGaughey. “Johnny [Velazquez] said he didn’t handle the grass, and that was that.”

Hymn Book handled Belmont’s main track exceptionally well earlier this year, earning a career-best 104 Beyer for running down I Want Revenge in the Three Coins Up, and finishing second to Flat Out in the Suburban Handicap.

“I tried Flat Out once and couldn’t beat him, so this was the next logical place to run him,” said McGaughey. “It’s a good spot to hopefully get him back on track, and then maybe run in the Queens County [Dec. 10] to see if he likes the inner track.”

The Firethorn is carded early as race 3. Hymn Book, who breaks from the rail, would relish any leftover moisture in the surface from Wednesday’s predicted rain.

Opposing him, in post position order, are Cactus Charlie, Indian Dance, Goombada Guska, Kindergarden Kid, and Schoolyard Dreams.

Cactus Charlie and Indian Dance were beaten by Eighttofasttocatch at Laurel Park recently in the Maryland Million Classic and Japan Racing Association Stakes, respectively. Indian Dance will be making his second start back from a 371-day layoff; all four of his wins have come at Laurel.

All five of Goombada Guska’s wins for former trainer Scott Volk came at two turns, capped by two inner-track stakes at Aqueduct. Purchased and turned over to Steve Asmussen after winning the Stymie, he makes his third start back from a freshening after running second in the Charles Hesse III Handicap at Monmouth Park.

Kindergarden Kid, fifth in the Bowling Green last out, tries the main track after 10 starts on turf for Barclay Tagg. His older half-brother, Tiz True, is a multiple dirt winner, including an allowance race at Zia Park earlier this month.

Schoolyard Dreams, third in the Westchester here in the spring with a career-best 96 Beyer, returns from a short break for new trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.