09/21/2012 4:41PM

Belmont Park: Lunar Victory streaking into Promenade All Stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Lunar Victory will be seeking his sixth straight win in Sunday's $85,000 Promenade All Stakes for New York-breds.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After Lunar Victory won five consecutive races, including a good-looking effort in a third-level allowance race at Saratoga, it would not have been surprising had his connections shot for the moon in an open-company stakes race.

But Juddmonte Farms and trainer Bill Mott have opted for the more conservative route and entered Lunar Victory in Sunday’s $85,000 Promenade All Stakes for New York-breds. The Promenade All, at a mile, is designed as a prep for the $250,000 Empire Classic at Belmont on New York Showcase Day.

Lunar Victory will be making his Belmont – and one-turn – debut in this spot after having won three races over Aqueduct’s inner track and two at Saratoga.

Lunar Victory won three consecutive races from Dec. 28 through March 3, but bled through Lasix in that last race. After given time off, Lunar Victory came back with a good-looking performance in the Evan Shipman Stakes for New York-breds at Saratoga on July 23 before taking the open-compay allowance Aug 23.

With Junior Alvarado sidelined due to a fractured collarbone, John Velazquez picks up the mount on Lunar Victory, who breaks from post 4.

The Promenade All is no easy spot. Trainer David Jacobson sends out the uncoupled entry of Saginaw and Fiddlers Afleet, both of whom are capable of winning with a top effort.

Saginaw has won seven of nine starts this year, including three stakes restricted to New York-breds. He is coming off an average performance winning an open starter handicap at Saratoga on Aug. 23, a race in which he toted 128 pounds.

“I just think the horses that were behind him were better horses than he had been running against,” Jacobson said. “He’s going to have to come with his ‘A’ race Sunday to beat Lunar Victory.”

David Cohen rides Saginaw from post 3.

Fiddlers Afleet has won two of his last three starts, but in between finished sixth in the John Morrissey Stakes, won by Saginaw.

“He didn’t go into the Morrissey as good as he did his last race,” Jacobson said. “He’s in top form now, he’s going to run real good. The Morrissey was just an off day for him.”

Alan Garcia rides Fiddlers Afleet from post 5.

Completing the field are Johannesburg Smile, a multiple stakes winner around one turn at Belmont; Socialsaul, who is 2 for 2 in one-turn mile races at Belmont; and Sailmate, second to Fiddlers Afleet in the Clever Electrician Stakes at Saratoga last out.

Dance Card tops Belle Cherie

It’s hard to believe that a Grade 1, $1 million race for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles can only draw a field of four, while an $85,000 listed stakes for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles the following day can draw seven.

But such is the case this weekend as Sunday’s $85,000 Belle Cherie at Belmont will run with seven the day after Parx Racing’s $1 million Cotillion went with four runners.

Kiaran McLaughlin, trainer of Cotillion favorite Questing, sends out Dance Card in the Belle Cherie seeking her third straight win and first in a stakes.

“She’s doing very well,” McLaughlin said. “We’re looking for black type. She’s got to come forward; it’s a tough race. There are couple of graded stakes [placed] fillies in there, but it’s the right spot for her.”

After finishing second in her debut, Dance Card has won a pair of route races, including a first-level allowance win at Saratoga on Aug. 17.

Lady Cohiba would be the horse to beat if she’s able to duplicate her performance in the Smart Guest, a race she won by a half-length over Moment in Dixie. That was her first win since being equipped with blinkers.

“She’s training well, maybe not quite as well as she did before the Saratoga race,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “She took longer to adapt to Belmont than what I thought she would, but she’s doing well.”

Proud Pearl, second in the Grade 3 Monmouth Oaks, is another contender in the field.