06/06/2012 2:31PM

Belmont Park: Brooklyn distance a mystery to most runners

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Tom Keyser
Boxeur des Rues and Mario Gutierrez team up in the 1 1/2-mile Brooklyn.

ELMONT, N.Y. – There appears to be plenty of experimenting going on when 11 older males start in Friday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont Park.

While this year’s bulky field includes last year’s Brooklyn winner, Birdrun, and the 2009 Brooklyn winner, Eldaafer, none of the other nine starters has previously tried the 1 1/2 mile distance. Twelve were actually entered for the Brooklyn, but Balladry, part of a Darley Stable-owned entry along with Arthur’s Tale, will scratch to run in a race Friday at Hollywood Park.

The Brooklyn is the first leg of a daily double wager – with a $1 minimum – that links to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

Eye on Jacob could go favored in the Brooklyn based on his monster 7 1/4-length victory in a first-level allowance going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct on April 18. He is a lightly raced son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy out of the 1998 champion older female Escena.

Owner Ahmed Zayat explained that Eye On Jacob, who won his debut for trainer Nick Zito in 2009, suffered from back and suspensory issues that kept him away from the races for two years. In 2011, he went winless in five starts for Bob Baffert over Southern California’s synthetic surfaces before being transferred to Todd Pletcher.

“We’ve been pleased with the horse both times we’ve run him,” Pletcher said. “He acts like he wants to go that far based on the way he’s handled his mile-and-an-eighth races for us. After his allowance win this is the race we picked out for him.”

In his allowance win, Eye On Jacob, stalked the pace from second. Approaching the quarter pole he had challengers on either side of him. When jockey John Velazquez asked him to run, Eye On Jacob took off.

“I think he’s a strong galloping type that has good tactical speed,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, he can get into a good rhythm and Johnny can put him wherever he feels comfortable. I feel like he fits the race very well.”

Redeemed is a three-time stakes winner at 1 1/8 miles and is 3 for 4 over Belmont’s main track. He comes off a 9 3/4-length victory over Birdrun in a 1 1/8-mile off-the-turf stakes that ran with only three horses.

In that race, Redeemed contested a strong early pace before drawing clear in midstretch under jockey Ramon Dominguez.

“It was one of those races we were committed to go and he was able to keep going,” Dominguez said. “He galloped out strong. He’s a pretty neat horse.”

Redeemed will break from post 10.

Twenty-four hours before they try to make history with I’ll Have Another in the Belmont Stakes, owner Paul Reddam, trainer Doug O’Neill, and jockey Mario Gutierrez will team up in the Brooklyn with Boxeur des Rues.

Boxeur des Rues had a foot issue earlier in the week, but his full shoe was replaced by a three-quarter shoe, and the horse has trained better over Belmont’s main track, according to O’Neill.

While many might view this is a way to get Gutierrez a ride in a 1 1/2-mile race at Belmont, O’Neill believes this horse is in with a chance.

“I know he’s an outsider on the morning line, but I think he’s got a chance to be very competitive in there,” O’Neill said. “We wouldn’t run him if he wasn’t doing well.”

Hailstone, a half-brother to the multiple stakes winner Court Vision, is trying dirt for the first time. Hailstone did finish second in the Grade 2 Pan American at 1 1/2 miles on turf at Gulfstream, and trainer Robert Ribuado believes this is a good opportunity to try dirt for the first time.

Not Abroad, Golden Gulch, Praetereo, Arthur’s Tale, and Kentucky Reign complete the field.

The Brooklyn goes as the final race on a 10-race program that begins at 12:50 p.m.

The Brooklyn and the Grade 3, $150,000 Jaipur, scheduled for seven furlongs on turf, will be broadcast during a one-hour telecast on the NBC Sports Network that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

Brooklyn Handicap (G2), Post Time: 5:44 ET Friday

Purse: $200,000; 1 1/2 miles

Post

Horse

Trainer

Jockey

ML Odds

1

Arthur's Tale

T. Albertrani

J. Castellano

8-1

1

Balladry

E. Harty

R. Napravnik

8-1

1

Hailstone

R. Ribaudo

J. Rocco, Jr.

15-1

1

Not Abroad

K. Ritvo

N. Petro

6-1

1

Eye on Jacob

T. Pletcher

J. Velazquez

5-1

1

Birdrun

W. Mott

R. Maragh

4-1

1

Eldaafer

D. Alvarado

P. Lopez

12-1

1

Golden Gulch

E. Kenneally

J. Lezcano

8-1

1

Praetero

C. Domino

E. Prado

20-1

1

Boxeur des Rues

D. O'Neill

M. Gutierrez

12-1

1

Redeemed

R. Dutrow, Jr.

R. Dominguez

5-2

1

Kentucky Reign

R. Dutrow, Jr.

J. Rosario

30-1