07/12/2013 2:45PM

Belmont Park: Rice runners in the thick of it on closing day

Tom Keyser
Adirondack Dancer has finished second twice at Sunday’s level.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Sunday is getaway day, but trainer Linda Rice will be too busy saddling horses at Belmont Park to think about the move to Saratoga.

Rice has six horses entered in four races on Belmont’s 10-race card, which brings to a conclusion the 56-day spring/summer meet. Following four dark days, racing moves to Saratoga beginning July 19.

Rice has two horses entered in each of Sunday’s co-featured allowance races scheduled for the turf.

In the sixth, a $72,000 first-level optional claiming turf sprint at six furlongs, Rice sends out the uncoupled entry of Palace and Abra. In the ninth, a $69,000 second-level optional claimer restricted to New York-breds going a mile, Rice will have the uncoupled entry of Adirondack Dancer and Karakorum Legend.

Palace, a 4-year-old son of the Rice-trained multiple dirt stakes winner City Zip, has 3 wins and 2 seconds in 5 starts – all on dirt – since Rice claimed him for $20,000 off Bill Mott last October. In his only turf try for Mott, Palace fell in deep stretch.

“There’s a [dirt] race for him going seven-eighths at Saratoga. I’d rather run him three-quarters. I’d rather run him here and thought I’d give him another shot on the turf,” Rice said. “Theoretically, almost all City Zips love the grass, and I thought maybe we should see if that was just a one-time incident or if he might like the turf, too.”

Cornelio Velasquez rides Palace from the rail.

Rice claimed Abra last Sunday for $15,000 out of a race in which he jogged by 10 lengths, running six furlongs in 1:09.68 on the dirt. Abra’s pedigree – he’s by Elusive Quality out of a Storm Cat mare – suggests he will handle the turf.

“I thought the horse might improve on the grass, and frankly he’s pretty good on the dirt. It’s an option I want to explore,” said Rice, who has David Cohen to ride from post 2.

Saint Pete, who won at Gulfstream for $25,000 in March, drops to that level for the first time since then for trainer Naipaul Chatterpaul. Saints Alive, a winner of seven races, is entered for the optional claiming price of $25,000 after winning for $20,000 here June 29.

In the ninth, Rice definitely plans to run Adirondack Dancer but will wait until race day to decide on Karakorum Legend, who is entered for the $35,000 claiming price.

Adirondack Dancer has finished second twice in this condition, the last time to Royal Blessing, a horse Rice knows well, having bought him as a 2-year-old and ran three times before he got hurt.

“That horse had a lot of ability and had been off for a long time for a fractured pelvis, so I think he got beat by a nice horse,” Rice said. “I’m hoping a similar effort will be good enough to win this one.”

Karakorum Legend is coming off a win at this level going seven furlongs and is 4 for 9 at a mile.

Mr Rosenthal, an allowance winner last November at Aqueduct, and Gimme Credit, a 10-year-old gelding who has won 14 races, are other contenders in this field.

Ian GW More than 1 year ago
Thank God they close today. I cant take one more day of an awful card there. Iremeber the days of $50 k supers. Belmont has so fastly become grossly removed for the gambler its unreal. Everything is politics and insider horsemen, but nothing for us. Just pray Saratoga is not much of the same, but I fear it might be.
mrm More than 1 year ago
The owner having liked Royal Blessing's pedigree and watched his breeze at Fasig Tipton, did not hesitate to buy him.