10/25/2012 2:46PM

Belmont Park: Arena Elvira faces obstacles in bid to repeat Turnback the Alarm victory

Barbara D. Livingston
Arena Elvira will be making her first start in 189 days when she defends her title in the Turnback the Alarm.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though few trainers are as adept at successfully bringing a horse back off a long layoff as Bill Mott, there are a couple of reasons to take a shot against Arena Elvira when she attempts to repeat in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Turnback the Alarm Handicap off a 189-day layoff.

When Arena Elvira won last year’s Turnback the Alarm, the race was run at 1 1/8 miles around two turns at Aqueduct. This year, the Turnback the Alarm has returned to Belmont and will be run at 1 1/16 miles around one turn.

Those two factors should benefit R Gypsy Gold, who has 3 wins and 2 seconds from 5 starts at Belmont. Her last two wins have come in 1 1/16-mile races at Belmont, albeit in overnight stakes.

The one previous time R Gypsy Gold faced Arena Elvira, she lost by a head in the Wayward Lass Stakes at Tampa in March when both horses were coming off similar five-month layoffs and R Gypsy Gold broke poorly.

R Gypsy Gold, a half-sister to the 3-year-old graded stakes winner Broadway’s Alibi, comes off a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga on Aug. 26.

“She got a little hot in the paddock and just didn’t fire,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains R Gypsy Gold for Joyce Robsham. “We freshened her up a bit.”

Javier Castellano rides R Gypsy Gold from post 2.

Arena Elvira has not run since finishing third as the favorite in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails at Hawthorne in April. Prior to that, she had won five consecutive races, all around two turns. In her career, she has won three times around one turn, including a second-level allowance win at Belmont going a mile in May 2011.

Mott said he had stopped on Arena Elvira following the Sixty Sails because she wasn’t moving well. She has been in steady training at Belmont since the summer and “is ready to run,” Mott said.

Arena Elvira is the starting highweight at 120 pounds and will break from post 6 under Jose Lezcano.

In addition to running R Gypsy Gold, Pletcher also will send out Maristar, an extremely well-bred 5-year-old mare who has been a bit of a disappointment. Pletcher will add blinkers to her equipment “to try to get her involved a little more,” he said. “She seemed to work well in them.”

Maristar, who will be ridden by John Velazquez, worked Sunday in company with the undefeated 2-year-old filly Dreaming of Julia.

Go Unbridled, a 5-year-old New York-bred mare, will try to improve upon her third-place finish in last year’s Turnback the Alarm for Allen Jerkens.

Jerkens had considered running against males in the Empire Classic last Saturday, but opted to wait for this.

“She’s doing as good as you could hope,” said Jerkens, who is hoping jockey Junior Alvarado can take the mare back and make one run.

All Due Respect, Nefertini, Catch a Thief, and Afleeting Lady complete the field.