07/04/2013 12:23PM

Belmont Park: Battier faces short field in Dwyer

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Tom Keyser
Abraham (center) won his maiden at Gulfstream Park in February and will try for his first stakes win in the Dwyer.

ELMONT, N.Y. – With the top 3-year-olds from the Triple Crown season still on hiatus, Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park affords six late developers the opportunity to win a graded event.

Battier, who began his career in a maiden $25,000 claimer at Parx Racing last fall, is the only stakes winner in the Dwyer field, having won the restricted Fit to Fight Stakes at Aqueduct in April. After that race, a majority interest in the Tale of the Cat colt was purchased by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, and the horse was turned over to trainer Todd Pletcher.

After scratching out of the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes on May 11, Battier ran in the seven-furlong Gygistar Stakes on May 22, finishing third, 1 1/4 lengths behind winner Declan’s Warrior. The Dwyer is run at 1 1/16 miles.

“I thought it was a good effort,” Pletcher said of the colt’s recent loss. “He’s versatile enough to handle a variety of distances. This would probably be more to his liking.”

Battier will break from the rail in the Dwyer, but Pletcher is hoping the speedy Moreno in post two will clear him early and give John Velazquez the opportunity to get Battier off the inside early.

Saint Vigeur is another who has a little early speed and looks like one of the main contenders in this compact field. Saint Vigeur, a son of Smart Strike, won two straight races this year – both with blinkers added – before finishing a well-beaten second to Freedom Child in the Grade 2 Peter Pan.

Some consideration was given to running Saint Vigeur in the Belmont Stakes, but he developed a quarter crack and missed some training.

“He’s a real tryer, this horse,” said Chad Brown, who trains Saint Vigeur for Mr. and Mrs. William Warren. “His best days are probably ahead of him. He’s a big horse. He had to overcome some growing pains and behavioral issues when he was younger. We focused him up with the blinkers a bit, and overall racing experience helped this horse continue to get better and develop.”

Javier Castellano, the meet’s leading rider, will ride Saint Vigeur from post 3.

Abraham, also trained by Pletcher, was a supplement to the Dwyer. Pletcher was looking for an allowance race for Abraham, fourth as the favorite in the Peter Pan, but could not find one that filled.

“He was running well without delivering any huge performances,” Pletcher said. “He’s acted like one of these is within his reach.”

Make Your Move has been in good form this spring, winning three of his last four starts, albeit in claiming and starter-allowance races. He figures to be doing his best running late in the race and would benefit from a strong early pace. Irad Ortiz Jr. rides.

For Greater Glory ships in for trainer Steve Hobby following a second-place finish in a June 2 allowance race at Churchill.

MJP More than 1 year ago
Battier is hugely overrated just like the basketball player he is named after. Another Pletcher failure. Moreno couldn't even break his maiden in California now he is utterly dominating stakes races in NY.
[removed] More than 1 year ago
This comment has been deleted
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scott More than 1 year ago
Where does the perception come from that all grade 1/2 races had full fields in the past? Go back over the last 20+ years and look at the charts. Some years these races are full and some they are short, nothing has changed. I found charts back to 1991, here are the Dwyer field sizes by year.... '91 (7) '92 (6) '93 (6) '94 (4) '95 (6) '95 (6) '96 (6) '97 (6) '98 (5) '99 (6) '00 (4) '01 (4) '02 (6) '03 (7) '04 (6) '05 (6) '06 (6) '07 (5) '08 (6) '09 (7) '10 (7) '11 (6) '12 (7) ...... You'll see a similar history if you go through some of your other favorite grade 1/2 races. 95% of the people who comment on this site have no actual knowledge of what they are talking about. Are you even racing fans?
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Smaller crops and year round racing don't help any.
zkid9914 More than 1 year ago
Woodbine has a nice card tommorow. Big races, purses, jockeys, fields. Queens Plate Day. Save your money for then.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Wow. The Dwyer was once a big race .. Just look at this poor field. It should be race 1 on the card.
Mark More than 1 year ago
Moreno
Mark More than 1 year ago
To the thumbs down .... HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES ????!!!!"
Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Belmont cards have been so bad all meet. Its going down hill fast.
M J More than 1 year ago
One of weakest Gr. IIs in memory.
B More than 1 year ago
Seems to be a countrywide theme this year. I don't remember a year with so many major races with so many 4 to 6 horse fields. I hope it's an aberration. If this continues, this sport is spiraling downwards at a far faster pace than I ever expected.