10/05/2012 4:54PM

Belmont: Motion looks prominent in trio of holiday turf stakes

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Tom Cooley Photography
West Hills Giant will be coming back on short rest and switching from dirt to turf if he runs in Monday's Pilgrim Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Graham Motion will be a player in all three turf stakes scheduled to be run on Monday’s Columbus Day card at Belmont Park.

In the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim Stakes, for 2-year-old males, Motion will send out the Irish-bred Cerro. In the Grade 3, $150,000 Miss Grillo, for 2-year-old fillies, Motion sends out Three Hearts. Finally, in the $150,000 Pebbles Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Motion has Ski Holiday.

The Pilgrim, offering an automatic berth into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and Miss Grillo, whose winner gets an automatic spot in the BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, were each rescheduled from Sunday due do the threat of wet weather. Both races are scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.

Cerro, an Irish-bred son of Mr. Greeley, won a seven-furlong race in Italy in June and was purchased privately by Team Valor shortly thereafter.

[BREEDERS' CUP 2012: DRF top 10 lists, video replays, latest news]

“We’ve worked him a couple of times on the turf at Fair Hill and he’s a very straightforward horse to be around,” Motion said. “Obviously, this is a big step, but it’s the time of year you have to find out what you’ve got.”

The Pilgrim drew a field of eight, led by Notacatbutallama and Noble Tune. West Hills Giant is the only two-time winner in the field, but would be wheeling back on short rest after winning the New York Breeders’ Futurity going six furlongs on dirt on Sept 29 at Finger Lakes.

Three Hearts drew the outside post in a 12-horse field for the Miss Grillo.

Three Hearts, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Hat Trick also owned by Team Valor, comes off a maiden win at Laurel last out. Previously, she had been defeated twice in maiden races in New York.

“She ran against easier company last time, but she ran a much-improved race,” Motion said. “Again, you have to find out where you are with these 2-year-olds four weeks before the Breeders’ Cup. I don’t think she handled the hot weather very well. That’s to her advantage now.”

Watsdachances comes off a neck victory in the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga and is one of three horses trainer Chad Brown entered in the Miss Grillo. His other entrants are maidens Atlantic Dream and Wave Theory. All three horses run as separate betting interests.

Trainer John Terranova entered the uncoupled entry of Fearless Jacq and the maiden Manuka Honey.

Motion’s horse Ski Holiday, an allowance winner at Penn National in August, takes on seven rivals in the Pebbles, scheduled for one mile on the Widener turf course. The race is led by Peace Preserver and Channel Lady, an uncoupled entry from the Todd Pletcher barn.