05/11/2012 2:37PM

Belmont Park: Our Entourage back on preferred surface in Sunday allowance

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Barbara D. Livingston
Our Entourage will get back on turf for a second-level allowance race Sunday at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Six of the 10 races carded at Belmont Park for Sunday are scheduled for the turf, including a trio of high-priced allowance events.

The second race on the card is a second-level allowance heat for 3-year-olds and up at a mile. Three-year-olds Our Entourage and Achilles ended up in this spot after a stakes restricted to 3-year-olds was not used by the racing office.

Our Entourage is 2 for 2 on turf, including a first-level allowance win at Gulfstream in February. He then ran in the Illinois Derby on dirt, where he vied for the lead and finished fifth, 4 1/2 lengths behind Done Talking.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said it wasn’t a bad race, but added that Our Entourage doesn’t “polish off his races” on dirt or synthetic as well as he does on turf.

“It’s a surface we want to get back to,” Pletcher said.

Achilles, a son of Smart Strike trained by Neil Drysdale, won both of his starts on turf at Santa Anita and shipped to Churchill for the American Turf. He was not entered in that race and was shipped to New York with the idea of running in the Ruhlmann Stakes, which was not used. Javier Castellano would ride Achilles, if he indeed runs in this spot.

Za Approval and Voodoo Storm are a pair of 4-year-olds coming off first-level allowance wins. Za Approval is out of the multiple stakes-winning dam Voodoo Dancer and rallied from 10th to get up at Keeneland for trainer Shug McGaughey.

Za Approval, a half-brother to multiple stakes winners Revved Up and Miesque’s Approval trained by Christophe Clement, won a first-level allowance race on Florida Derby Day at Gulfstream Park.

“He’d prefer firmer ground than softer,” said Clement, who was hopeful the improved weather conditions would help dry out a saturated turf course.

Grand Rapport, Lighthouse Sound, and Followmyfootsteps are entered for the optional claiming tag of $50,000.

If Za Approval wins the second, then handicappers will likely flock to Kanagaro in the seventh, a first-level allowance race going one mile. Kanagaro was beaten only a head by Za Approval in the aforementioned Florida Derby Day race. Moreover, his lone win from 10 career starts came going a mile at Belmont last fall.

Other contenders in that heat include Reserve Currency, an eight-length maiden winner last out; Selection Sunday, beaten a neck in his first try against winners; and Japanese-bred Barocci, making his North American debut in this spot.

Counterparty, a good-looking first-level allowance winner at Keeneland on April 7 for Pletcher, heads a field of nine entered in a second-level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles for fillies and mares that goes as race 9.