05/05/2011 1:58PM

Belmont Park: Hudson Steele favored in Fort Marcy


ELMONT, N.Y. – The Fort Marcy Stakes and Beaugay, a pair of Grade 3, $100,000 races at 1 1/16 miles that serve as the traditional starting points for the New York turf racing season, will each be run for the 34th time Saturday.

The Fort Marcy, which is scheduled for the Widener turf, attracted six turf-meant runners, with Sal the Barber’s win in the 2009 running of the Grade 3 Calder Derby the only graded stakes score among them.

Hudson Steele, coming off a third-level allowance win at Gulfstream for Todd Pletcher in his first start back from an eight-month layoff, is the lukewarm 5-2 morning-line choice over Riviera Cocktail.

Hudson Steele won two of his first three grass starts last year, including the Jersey Derby, and earned a career-best 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his allowance win April 3.

Riviera Cocktail also ran on the April 3 card at Gulfstream and matched his career Beyer top of 101 rallying for second behind Little Mike in the Appleton Stakes – his first start for Kiaran McLaughlin.

Little Mike “was a horse for the course down there,” said assistant trainer Art Magnuson, referring to the latter’s three Grade 3 victories at the meet, “and we came from well back that day on a speed-favoring course.”

Beau Choix, who was a close third in the Grade 1 Jamaica Stakes here last fall, makes his second start as a 4-year-old after overcoming post 12 to win a third-level allowance at Keeneland just three weeks ago. He worked a bullet half-mile on the main track last week for Barclay Tagg.

Also entered for turf are Mikoshi, fourth in the Appleton last out for Michael Matz; and Straight Story, last year’s West Point winner who makes his seasonal bow for Alan Goldberg.

Arson Squad and Hymn Book entered for dirt only.

The Beaugay, scheduled for the inner turf, would have been headed by Maram, whose victory in the Grade 3 Miss Grillo on yielding turf here as a 2-year-old in 2008 stands as the field’s only graded stakes win. Maram, however, was retired on Friday with a suspensory tear.

Daveron, who was a sharp allowance winner on this same course in her U.S. debut last May for Christophe Clement, will be making her seasonal debut in the Beaugay.

Daveron was transferred to Graham Motion in the fall and closed out the year with a runner-up finish in the Long Island Handicap at Aqueduct.

Gitchee Goomie, who was scratched after being fractious in the gate prior to the Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs last November, returns to Belmont, where she was a bang-up third in the Grade 1 Garden City Stakes as a 3-year-old last fall for Rick Violette Jr.

Gitchee Goomie, a New York-bred, won a second-level allowance first time out this year at Gulfstream Park.

“She’s a very, very nice filly, but she has a big temper,” Violette said of Gitchee Goomie, who also had to be scratched at Saratoga last summer. “Sometimes she picks a fight with the gate and the gate wins, but when she gets by that, she’s very consistent and she’s stepped up the ladder considerably.

Ainamaa, Bet On the Blue, and Comic Marvel also entered for turf. Happy Week, R Betty Graybull, and Streaker entered for dirt only.