07/03/2013 2:54PM

Belmont Park: Sure Route can help Jacobson's bid to break Pletcher's record


ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer David Jacobson entered Wednesday’s card just three wins shy of Todd Pletcher’s record 40 victories for a Belmont spring/summer meet.

Jacobson, whose 144 starters were 44 more than his nearest competitor, could move closer to that record Friday when he runs Sure Route in the $100,000 Magnolia Jackson Stakes, which goes as race 3 on a nine-race program that begins at 3 p.m. Eastern. The Magnolia Jackson, for fillies and mares, is run at 6 1/2 furlongs.

Jacobson’s barn has been under 24-hour surveillance from the New York Racing Association and state investigators since May 24, the day after he won four races from five starters at Belmont. Pre-surveillance, Jacobson won 19 races from 62 starters at this meet. Post-surveillance, he has won 18 races from 82 starters.

“I want NYRA to keep them here,” Jacobson said Wednesday. “I want to know when and if they’re ever going to leave. I want a heads-up. I enjoy the security.”

Asked why he wants continued security, Jacobson said, “It would cost me a lot of money to have the security that I have that NYRA is paying for. Instead of having one night watchman, I have three, four, or five.”

Jacobson said that breaking Pletcher’s mark – set in 2003 –would be “very rewarding. Especially the spring meet, which is not supposed to be one of my stronger times of year.”

Sure Route has accounted for two of Jacobson’s 22 second-place finishes at the meet. Jacobson claimed Sure Route for $62,500 at Aqueduct on April 20 when Sure Route finished second in a turf race. She has raced twice on the dirt, getting beat a nose by Delightful Quality going seven furlongs on May 24 and finishing second to Royal Lahaina in the off-the-turf Mariensky Stakes on June 7.

“I pick her as one of the top two choices in there. She’s really doing well,” Jacobson said. “Six-and-a-half might be a little short for her, but at Belmont you can maybe overcome that with the wide turns. She has two really good races at seven-eighths, and she couldn’t be doing any better.”

Junior Alvarado, the second-leading rider at the meet, rides Sure Route from post 5.

Smart Stride returns from a near 13-month layoff for new trainer Pletcher. Part-owner Eric Fein said that Smart Stride has basically been ready to run for seven months, but races he and then-trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. were looking to run in haven’t filled. A similar problem existed recently for Pletcher, who has taken over the training of Smart Stride since Dutrow has been suspended.

“I don’t know what she’s going to do Friday,” Fein said. “Your guess is as good as mine. I don’t think Todd is crazy about her right now, but I’ve never heard anybody be crazy about her in the morning before.”

Villanesca, scratched from the Grade 2 Distaff on April 13 after getting cast in her stall, seeks her first stakes win in this spot.

Promise Me a Cat and Expression complete the field.