06/17/2013 2:35PM

Belmont Park: Doubles Partner finds soft spot in Wednesday feature

Tom Keyser
Doubles Partner's last 11 races have come in stakes, 10 of them graded.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After competing in 11 consecutive stakes – 10 of which were graded – over the past 26 months, Doubles Partner has found some class relief in Wednesday’s $81,000 optional-claiming feature at Belmont Park.

Double Partner, winless since taking the Grade 3 Canadian Turf at Gulfstream in March 2012, meets five rivals in the one-mile race, scheduled for the Widener turf course. Five of the six entrants have combined to go 0 for 22 this year and the sixth, Ninety Schillings, hasn’t run since April 2012.

Doubles Partner, one of three horses in this field being offered for the $100,000 claiming tag, finished second as the favorite in both the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes to begin the year. His last two efforts, both in Grade 2 stakes, were mediocre. He finished fourth in the Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap at Fair Grounds in March and in a dead heat for seventh, though beaten only 3 1/4 lengths, in the Dixie at Pimlico in May.

“He’s a horse that has consistently run well,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. Just looking for some class relief and a spot to run.”

Doubles Partner will be cutting back to a mile, which Pletcher said is “fine as long as there’s a little bit of pace to run at.”

Pace should not be an issue, with Joes Blazing Aaron and El Commodore both expected to show some early speed. Joes Blazing Aaron was second behind Data Link in this year’s Canadian Turf at Gulfstream before running eighth in the Grade 3 Appleton on the turf there and fourth in an optional claimer sprinting over Keeneland’s synthetic surface.

El Commodore, who comes out of a second as the pacesetter in the Grade 3 Miami Mile at Calder, was purchased privately by John Gallegos and Tom Kagele and trainer Mike Machowsky with the idea of running at Del Mar this summer.

The horse has been with trainer Joe Orseno at Belmont for the last few weeks and will run under his name Wednesday.

“He’s been training really well,” Orseno said. “He was in an overnight stakes and it rained off, but that was a mile and an eighth and it may have been a little too far for him anyway. This race came up, and it’s tougher than the stake.”

Orseno is hoping that by breaking from the outside post, his rider, Rajiv Maragh, will be able to keep El Commodore out of a speed duel with Joes Blazing Aaron.

Admiral Perry, like Doubles Partner, would benefit from a contested pace. He is seeking his first win since last July and drops into allowance company after running sixth in the Grade 3 Red Bank at Monmouth.

Ninety Schillings, trained by Ian Wilkes, makes his first start in 14 months, while Isn’t He Perfect would be running back five days after finishing last in the Criminal Type Stakes here last Friday.