Updated on 10/03/2011 5:38PM

Belmont Park: Yielding conditions lead to several stakes scratches


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though the sun had burst through the clouds by mid-morning, the damage had already been done.

The rains that had come intermittently, but powerfully during the latter stages of the week, made for a soft turf course that has negatively impacted Belmont Park’s Super Saturday card.

Aruna, the third choice on the morning line, and longshot Senada both scratched out of Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl Invitational. Also, Teaks North, a multiple Grade 1 winner, was scratched out of the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

Due to the rain, both of Belmont’s turf courses were labeled yielding and the four other races carded for the grass have been transferred to the dirt.

The connections of all three horses that scratched used the soft turf as their excuse. Graham Motion, the trainer of Aruna, also said that he is likely to scratch State of Play, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Sunday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Pilgrim Stakes, due to the soft ground.

“I’m worried about the ground for both of them,” Motion said Saturday morning by phone from his base at the Fair Hill training center. “I have options for both of them next week. If I didn’t have options, I might have second thoughts, but I want to do right by the horses.”

Motion said he plans to run Aruna in the Grade 1, $500,000 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 9. If he scratches State of Play from the Pilgrim, that 2-year-old colt would run in the Grade 2, $100,000 Bourbon Stakes at Keeneland, also Oct. 9.

Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Senada, said he would likely run her in a second-level allowance or the $125,000 Dowager Stakes at Keeneland.

Trainer Justin Sallusto said he scratched Teaks North out of the Joe Hirsch because “he can’t stand up on a soggy or soft turf course.” Sallusto said he would train Teaks North up to the Breeders’ Cup Turf.

The scratches of Aruna, Senada and Teaks North came one day after the scratches of Big Drama out of the Vosburgh due to a fever and Sangaree out of the Kelso due to a cough.

David Fawkes, the trainer of Big Drama, said the colt’s fever was normal on Saturday morning. The horse was scheduled to van from Belmont to Aqueduct Saturday afternoon - where the rest of Fawkes’s New York string is based at Aqueduct - and train at Aqueduct for a few days before shipping back to Calder sometime next week.

Fawkes said it is his intention to train Big Drama up to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, a race he won last year en route to being crowned champion sprinter.

“I think I have enough of a handle on him that I can train him up to it,” Fawkes said. “The bottom line is, do I have a choice?”