06/05/2013 12:05PM

Belmont Park: McGaughey, Clement following forecast for Mariensky Stakes

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Naples Bay recently returned from a layoff of more than five months on May 4, fading to fifth in the Grade 3 Beaugay.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainers Shug McGaughey and Christophe Clement were keeping a close eye on the weather forecast for Friday at Belmont Park, because the predicted storm to hit the area would affect the $100,000 Mariensky Stakes, either forcing it to be run on a rain-softened inner turf course, or even move to the main track.

The Mariensky, for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles, drew seven horses in the main body of the race, with three more entered for the main track only.

McGaughey holds a strong hand either way. If the race is kept on a grass course with some give to it, he’ll send out Scampering, who won a second-level allowance over a yielding course at Gulfstream Park on April 5. And if it comes off the grass, he should have the overwhelming favorite in Sea Island, who was second to Summer Applause in the Grade 3 duPont Distaff at Pimlico on Preakness Day three weeks ago.

Sea Island has made two starts this year following a winter vacation. She was second in an allowance race on the turf at Keeneland on April 12 before the duPont Distaff.

[BROOKLYN HANDICAP: Get Friday's Belmont past performances]

“She’s really turning into a nice filly,” McGaughey said Wednesday morning. “We gave her the winter off, and she matured a lot. I thought she had Summer Applause at Pimlico, but Summer Applause got away the last part. She still beat some nice horses. It would be nice to get a win in some type of stakes, then try a two-turn, Grade 1 race at Saratoga, whatever one Royal Delta doesn’t go in.”

Clement entered both Naples Bay and Team, and Wednesday said both would run if the turf course suits him. If the race is rained off the grass, Naples Bay would scratch, Clement said.

Naples Bay recently returned from a layoff of more than five months on May 4 in the Grade 3 Beaugay, in which she faded to fifth in a six-horse field after pressing a moderate pace. She is far better when she has pace at which to run.

“Blame the trainer,” Clement said of Naples Bay needing her last race.

“He doesn’t make many mistakes, but this one he got wrong,” he said, joking.

Peace Preserver, second in the Beaugay, will be a major player if the race remains on the turf. She has finished first or second in 3 of 4 starts on the Belmont turf.