09/25/2013 4:34PM

Belmont: Princess of Sylmar tries to play spoiler in Beldame

Barbara D. Livingston
Princess of Sylmar will run in the Beldame, but is not nominated to the Breeders' Cup and therefore unlikely to move on to the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Last year, Royal Delta suffered only two defeats in North America. Trainer Todd Pletcher was responsible for both of them.

Saturday, Pletcher will go for a hat trick of sorts when he sends out Princess of Sylmar, the leading 3-year-old filly in the country, against two-time champion Royal Delta in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational at Belmont Park.

The Beldame is one of six stakes, all of which are Win and You’re In races for the Breeders’ Cup, on Saturday’s card. The winner of the Beldame gets a spot into the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, a race Royal Delta has won in each of the past two years. Princess of Sylmar is not nominated to the Breeders’ Cup and her connections would still have to pay a hefty supplemental fee even if she were to win the Beldame.

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Last year, Royal Delta won the Beldame and the Distaff (called the Ladies’ Classic the last few years). Those wins followed a second-place finish in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga, won by the Pletcher-trained Love and Pride. Royal Delta’s only other loss in North America in 2012 came to Awesome Maria in the Grade 3 Sabin at Gulfstream. Royal Delta also lost in the Dubai World Cup.

In both the Sabin and Personal Ensign, Royal Delta could not run down either of the Pletcher mares. Saturday, Royal Delta will be the one to catch under Mike Smith as Princess of Sylmar will be rallying from well off the pace under Javier Castellano.

“Royal Delta is a phenomenal mare” Pletcher said. “She has a tremendous high-cruising speed and can carry that over a distance of ground. We have a lot of respect for her. We were fortunate to beat her twice last year with Awesome Maria and Love and Pride. We’ll hope Princess of Sylmar can give her a run for her money.”

Pletcher will need someone to run with Royal Delta early. At entry time, two horses who showed early speed in their last race had been entered: Roman Invader, who won the Parlo Stakes here on Sept. 19, and Lady Cohiba, a front-running winner of the off-the-turf Glens Falls Stakes at Saratoga.

Royal Delta will break from post 4 under Mike Smith while Princess of Sylmar drew post 2. And Why Not and Centring round out the field.

Ramsey to run a rabbit in Joe Hirsch

The Kitten will get help from a rabbit.

Owner Ken Ramsey decided to enter the recently claimed Joe’s Blazing Aaron to act as a rabbit for Ramsey’s two Grade 1 winners, Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution, in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

“We call them pacemakers,” Ramsey said. “That’s more polite.”

Ramsey said he entered Joe’s Blazing Aaron just to make sure Little Mike “has some company” on the front end of the Joe Hirsch. There is other speed horses entered in the Joe Hirsch, including King Kreesa, who will try to stretch out to 1 1/2 miles for the first time.

Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution are targeted for the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Ramsey decided to run both – trained by Chad Brown – in the same race to avoid shipping either one before the Breeders’ Cup.

Real Solution has not crossed the finish line first since winning a race in Italy in April 2012. He was placed first by the stewards in the Arlington Million on Aug. 17.

Big Blue Kitten has won two straight, the United Nations and Sword Dancer Invitational.

The three Ramsey-owned horses will run as a coupled entry. Trainer Shug McGaughey also entered two horses, Boisterous and Imagining, but he is not likely to run both.

McGaughey said that he is more inclined to run Imagining in the Joe Hirsch and run Boisterous, the Grade 1 Man o’ War winner here in July, in the Knickerbocker here on Oct. 12 or the Fayette Stakes at Keeneland.

Nutello, Slumber, and Twilight Eclipse also are entered.

Strapping Groom tries to earn BC berth

There are lot more sexier names entered in Saturday’s Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh Invitational, but there isn’t anyone in better form than Strapping Groom.

Coming off a win in the Grade 1 Forego at seven furlongs at Saratoga, Strapping Groom shortens up to six furlongs with a bid to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on the line. He will face defending Vosburgh winner The Lumber Guy, as well as Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt 1-2 finishers Justin Phillip and Bahamian Squall, California shipper Private Zone, and the 3-year-old Forty Tales.

“I don’t’ think he’s proven himself a top, top Breeders’ Cup horse yet,” trainer David Jacobson, said of Strapping Groom, who has won 3 of 4 starts since being claimed by Jacobson for $35,000 in May.

Strapping Groom will break from post 3 under Junior Alvarado.

The Lumber Guy, who won this race last year before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, will break from post 5 under Mike Luzzi.

Laughing tested for distance in Flower Bowl

Laughing, undefeated in three starts this year, will get the chance to prove herself at 1 1/4 miles when she headlines a field of eight entered in Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational.

A 5-year-old daughter of Dansili trained by Alan Goldberg, Laughing won the Grade 1 Diana at 1 1/8 miles at Saratoga in July and came back to win the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at 1 1/16 miles, also at Saratoga. She won both of those races on the front end, and there does not appear to be much speed in this race. Last year, in Ireland, Laughing beat males going 1 3/8 miles in Ireland.

Laughing will be ridden by Jose Lezcano, who makes his return to the saddle after missing a month with a broken wrist sustained in a spill at Saratoga on Aug. 25. Lezcano got on horses for the first time Wednesday morning.

Laughing will be coupled with Tannery, winner of the Sheepshead Bay at 1 3/8 miles here in May. Javier Castellano will ride Tannery.

Also entered are Mystical Star, Somali Lemonade, Valiant Girl, Kissable, Qushchi, and White Rose.

Graydar returns in Kelso

Graydar, an early season star of the older male division with victories in the Donn and New Orleans handicaps, returns from a six-month layoff in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Invitational.

Graydar, a son of Unbridled’s Song, has won 4 of 5 career starts. Following the New Orleans Handicap, he was sidelined due to surgery to remove ankle chips. He has been training steadily with Cross Traffic, another gray son of Unbridled’s Song who is running in Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Though the Kelso offers a fees-paid berth into the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile, Graydar could possibly be using this is a prep for the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“It could be,” Todd Pletcher said. “What we need to see is how well he runs in the Kelso, how fit he is, how he comes out of it and if we feel like a one-mile prep will set him up to get a mile and a quarter.”

Graydar will break from post 2 under Edgar Prado.

His competition will include Jackson Bend and Easter Gift – a Robert LaPenta-owned entry – Praetereo, Souper Speedy, Hymn Book, and Brujo de Olleros.

Garcia out with broken foot

Apprentice jockey Wilmer Garcia will be out four to six weeks due to a broken foot sustained during a gate mishap here on Sunday.

Garcia was aboard Fiftyfour Forever, who acted up in the starting gate necessitating a late scratch.

Garcia, who did well riding at Aqueduct last winter, suffered a broken neck in a car accident driving to Penn National last January. He had returned in August at Penn National and Sunday was his first day back in New York.

◗ Sweet Reason, winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway, worked seven furlongs in 1:27.45 over Belmont’s main track on Wednesday. She appeared to get a little tired in the final stages of the work, in which she got her last quarter in 25.85 seconds. Sweet Reason is being pointed to the Grade 1 Frizette here on Oct. 5.