05/30/2013 4:34PM

Belmont Park: Saginaw stars on New York Showcase Day

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Saginaw (right) won 10 races in 2012 and was voted champion New York-bred older male.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After having great success the last two decades with a fall program dedicated to New York-breds at Belmont Park, the New York Racing Association decided to add a second such card to the calendar.

Saturday’s New York Showcase Day program at Belmont features 10 races restricted to New York-breds, including seven stakes worth $850,000. While the $150,000 Commentator Handicap at 1 1/16 miles is the richest race on the program, it is the $100,000 Affirmed Success at 6 1/2 furlongs that is the most intriguing.

The Affirmed Success features the poster boy of the New York-bred program, Saginaw, who has won 13 of 17 races since the beginning of 2012. His 10 wins in 2012 tied him for the most by any horse based in North America last year and he was voted New York-bred champion older male.

Though Saginaw has won a bushel of stakes, his last victory, in a starter allowance race, may have been his most impressive.

In that race, Saginaw carried 130 pounds, was passed by Private Tale, who carried 122 pounds, before coming back on that rival to win by a nose.

“He’s a real warrior,” trainer David Jacobson said. “He has that instinct to win, a lot like all great athletes.”

Jacobson said that effort “took a little out of him, but he’s training as well as he has” since Jacobson claimed him in March 2012.

Saginaw will break from the rail under Junior Alvarado and will likely have to deal with some pace pressure from either Fiddlers Afleet or Flying Zealous, who has won seven of eight career starts, including his last six.

In the stretch, Saginaw will likely have to deal with the late-running duo of Willy Beamin and/or Mine Over Matter.

Willy Beamin will be making his 4-year-old debut in this spot, his first start since finishing last in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight at Aqueduct. He was reported by the New York Racing Association to have bled in that race.

For the year, Willy Beamin won 6 of 10 starts, including the Grade  1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga three days after he won the Albany Stakes for New York-breds. Willy Beamin, claimed for $25,000 by owner James Riccio Sr. in March 2012, has won his last four starts against New York-bred competition.

Willy Beamin was trained by Richard Dutrow Jr. last year. He has since been moved to Rudy Rodriguez, who has had him for about two months.

“He’s training good. Tough race to start him back, but these are the kind of horses he should be running against,” Rodriguez said.

Irad Ortiz Jr. rides Willy Beamin.

Mine Over Matter is one of the few horses to have defeated Saginaw in the last 18 months. That win came in the Hudson Stakes here last year on the fall version of New York Showcase Day. Saginaw did stumble at the start that day, and Mine Over Matter was the beneficiary of a great trip.

Mine Over Matter went winless in four starts after that, before coming from off the pace to win the Corma Ray Stakes by one length over Be Bullish and Fiddlers Afleet, both of whom are back in this field.

“He got a great trip,” trainer Mike Hushion said. “Three across the track in 44-and-three would be okay.”

Joel Rosario will ride Mine Over Matter from post 3.

Be Bullish will be making his 69th start in the Affirmed Success. In last year’s John Morrissey at Saratoga, he finished second between Saginaw and Mine Over Matter.

The Affirmed Success will be run as the fourth race on the program, in part to allow riders Joel Rosario, Javier Castellano and Luis Saez to ride before having to leave for Penn National where all three have mounts in the Penn Mile at Penn National.