06/17/2011 1:17PM

Belmont Park: Johannesburg Smile back quick for Noble Nashua Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Naughty New Yorker hasn’t made a start since Sept. 17.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Dominic Galluscio is trying to corner the market on the Noble Nashua Stakes.

After winning the Noble Nashua for New York-breds at Aqueduct on April 22 with Stormy’s Majesty, Galluscio will seek to win Sunday’s $60,000 Noble Nashua, another one-turn mile race for New York-breds, at Belmont Park with Johannesburg Smile.

This version of the Noble Nashua drew a field of nine, though not all are expected to run. The field includes Naughty New Yorker, the millionaire earner who was brought out of retirement after he failed to attract interest as a stallion prospect.

Johannesburg Smile raced on Belmont Stakes Day, when he beat open company in a $63,000, first-level allowance race run over a muddy track at this mile distance. Galluscio said the horse came out of the race well enough to wheel him right back.

“Repeat victories, statistically come within 10 days,” said Galluscio, who has a record of 3-5-0 from 13 starters running back in eight days over the last few years. “That race didn’t take a lot out of him.”

Johannesburg Smile finished third behind his stablemate Stormy’s Majesty in April’s Noble Nashua. He then finished second to the promising Cool Blue Red Hot in an open-company allowance race here May 19. In both of those starts, Johannesburg Smile set the pace. In his win here on Belmont Day, he stalked the pace from third.

“He’s settling down, he’s more relaxed right now,” Galluscio said. “He can let that other speed go and be in a stalking position.”

Most Happy Fella and Smokin Hero could play out as the primary speed in this spot.

Trainer Pat Kelly entered both Spa City Fever and Naughty New Yorker, but is likely to run just one, depending on track condition. If the track is wet – and rain is in the forecast – Naughty New Yorker would scratch, Kelly said.

Naughty New Yorker, who won the 2006 Noble Nashua at Saratoga, hasn’t been out since Sept. 17, when he finished third in an overnight stakes here. He has lost his last 24 starts since taking the Master Digby Stakes at Aqueduct in February 2008.

Kelly said he’s been satisfied with how Naughty New Yorker has trained since coming back to him earlier in the spring.

“He seems ready to go,” Kelly said. “He’s still the toughest horse in the barn to gallop. He might decide he’s retired, but he doesn’t act that way in the morning.”