06/25/2013 12:51PM

Belmont Park: Stormy Len, Hardest Core taking on older rivals

Barbara D. Livingston
Stormy Len won his debut on Belmont’s main track last fall.

Hardest Core and Stormy Len, two lightly-raced 3-year-olds who have flashed some potential, oppose their elders in Thursday’s $77,000 allowance feature.

The preliminary allowance attracted six older runners, including a David Jacobson-trained entry of Ready to Taunt and Ea, both of whom have Javier Castellano named to ride. Ea would most likely be the one to run if rain forces a switch from 10 furlongs on the inner turf to nine furlongs on the main track.

Stormy Len won his debut on Belmont’s main track to lead off the Jockey Club Gold Cup program last fall, and then finished off the board in the Nashua and Remsen before trainer David Donk switched him to the turf for a fourth-place finish at Gulfstream Park.

Back at Belmont for his second outing at 3, Stormy Len ran a big race on the lead, but he was run down late by Draw Two, who gives every indication of being a stakes horse.

“He got beat by a good horse,” said Donk. “I was very impressed with the winner.”

Three weeks later, Stormy Len was bumped at the break and raced wide early toward the rear. He remained wide while rallying and missed second narrowly to Mills, who returned to win on Sunday.

Stormy Len gets a switch back to John Velazquez, and bullet workouts before and after his last race indicate he is likely to be more forwardly placed, assuming a clean break. He may relish the added distance, as his dam, Rientondale, is a full sister to Beverly D. and Flower Bowl winner Dynaforce, and a half-sister to the long-winded Cetewayo, an eight-time stakes winner whose victories include the 12-furlong Sword Dancer.

“His pedigree is stretch-out. He just needs to mature a little bit,” said Donk, who scratched Stormy Len out of Mills’s race to await this spot. “With his speed, he’ll be pretty dangerous.”

With only four races under his belt, Hardest Core is the most lightly raced member of the field, but the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt became its only 10-furlong winner on May 31, when he swooped past maidens from next to last and ran his final quarter-mile in under 23 seconds.

Other contenders include Westside Corral, who won at 1 3/8 miles over the course last fall, and State Flag, a last-out claim by Ken and Sarah Ramsey and Mike Maker.

Kingofthebluegrass and Shertzer complete the field.