05/29/2013 3:25PM

Belmont Park: Saturday’s Charm gets tune-up in Friday optional claimer

Michael Amoruso
Saturday’s Charm was scratched from the Grade 1 Carter because of some foot trouble.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Before Cross Traffic in Monday’s Metropolitan Handicap, the toughest beat of the year suffered on this circuit belonged to Saturday’s Charm, who lost a similarly excruciating photo to Comma to the Top in the Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct.

While Comma to the Top returned to California to win two of three stakes tries – including last weekend’s Los Angeles Handicap at Betfair Hollywood Park – Saturday’s Charm missed time because of a foot issue that forced him to scratch out of the Grade 1 Carter on April 6.

Friday, Saturday’s Charm will tune up for a likely future stakes opportunity when he heads a field of five in a $76,000 third-level optional claimer that serves as the feature on Belmont Park’s nine-race card.

It took Saturday’s Charm four tries to get his first win, and even that came in a maiden claiming event at Belmont last September. He hasn’t run a bad race since then, his worst finish being a third behind Head Heart Hoof in the True and Blue Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track on Jan. 9.

“He just came around,” said Toby Sheets, who oversees trainer Steve Asmussen’s New York string. “We did a few things to slow him down a little and it helped a lot.”

For the fourth time in his last six starts, Saturday’s Charm will break from the rail. Junior Alvarado rides.

After beating Saturday’s Charm in the True and Blue, Head Heart Hoof came back to win the Grade 3 Toboggan, also over the inner track. He finished third in the Tom Fool before running third in a starter handicap as the 3-5 favorite over Aqueduct’s main track March 28.

After a brief freshening, Head Heart Hoof is in this spot for the optional claiming price of $75,000.

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said he had thought about running Head Heart Hoof in Saturday’s $100,000 Affirmed Success at Belmont, but thought the extra half-furlong of that race would “be looking for trouble. This race is three-quarters, but it looks like he can compete with these horses.”

Head Heart Hoof, under Joel Rosario, figures to be sitting just off the pace of Star Harbour, who returns to New York and takes a drop in class after two unsuccessful stakes attempts in Florida.

Star Harbour scored front-running allowance wins at Belmont in October and Aqueduct in April in which he earned triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Friday, he is in for the $75,000 claiming price. He will break from post 2 under John Velazquez.

Leave of Absence, third in a field of four in a spot similar to this at Aqueduct on April 19, completes the field.