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Belmont Park: Sean Avery, Poseidon’s Warrior square off in Vosburgh
By Dave Litfin
ELMONT, N.Y. – Headed by Sean Avery and Poseidon’s Warrior, the last two Alfred G. Vanderbilt winners, a field of 10 sprinters will clash at Belmont Park in Saturday’s 74th running of the $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational Stakes at six furlongs.
The Vosburgh is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge Win and You’re In race, providing the winner a fees-paid berth to the Sprint. It also is the first leg of an all-Grade 1 pick four with a $500,000-guaranteed pool. Post time is scheduled for 4:04 p.m. Eastern.
Sean Avery and Poseidon’s Warrior are the only Grade 1 winners in the lineup, but the field collectively has racked up 71 victories and just shy of $5.4 million in earnings, and the contention runs deep.
After being sidelined for nearly a year and a half, Sean Avery returned to win four of five starts last year, all for Allen Iwinski, capped by a front-running upset of the Vanderbilt at 17-1. He subsequently missed another year due to a tendon injury and returned to win an overnight stakes opening day of Belmont’s fall meet.
Sean Avery is coupled in the wagering with the Mike Hushion-trained The Lumber Guy, one of two 3-year-olds in the race along with Fort Loudon, runner-up in the King’s Bishop for trainer Nick Zito.
The Lumber Guy, whose perfect record from three starts in one-turn races includes a wire-to-wire score in the Jerome, makes his first start since forcing a fast pace and finishing sixth in the Peter Pan on May 12.
“I don’t know how it will set up, but I think he’ll be close to the pace,” Hushion said. “He’s very sharp right now. We’ll see how fast and how far he can run.”
Poseidon’s Warrior provided trainer Butch Reid Jr. with his first Grade 1 win in this year’s Vanderbilt, rallying through the stretch under Irad Ortiz Jr. to run down Emcee and Rothko and prevail by a neck at 36-1 over Justin Phillip.
“I told the jock to ride him out of the gate if he wanted, because sometimes in New York they’ll give you the lead,” Reid said. “But when he saw the others go out, he did the right thing and laid back of them and let him settle.”
Steve Asmussen, who won the 2009 Vosburgh with Kodiak Kowboy, sends out the uncoupled duo of Justin Phillip and Rothko, second and fifth in the Vanderbilt.
Justin Phillip’s three wins at Belmont include last year’s Woody Stephens in the mud; a showery forecast could work in his favor.
Rothko is a 4-year-old Padua Stables homebred coming off a freshening – a profile shared with stablemate Dust and Diamonds, who won last week’s Gallant Bloom Handicap.
Caixa Eletronica came from the clouds to edge Justin Phillip in the True North Handicap here June 9. A 7-year-old warhorse, Caixa Eletronica turns back in distance after running in three longer stakes at Saratoga.
“He’s training as well as ever, and we are hoping for a fast pace like the True North,” trainer Todd Pletcher said.
Royal Currier, claimed as a 2-year-old for $20,000, has won seven stakes for trainer Patricia Farro. Among them are three decisions over Poseidon’s Warrior, beginning with an overnight stakes here in October 2010.
Little Drama and Zero Rate Policy complete the field.
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