05/31/2011 4:57PM

Belmont: Rogue Victory faces softer company in turf feature


ELMONT, N.Y. – Following two dark days, racing resumes at Belmont Park on Thursday with a solid card that includes six non-claiming races, headed by a second-level optional $50,000 claimer scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.

Rogue Victory appears to be getting some class relief for George Weaver, who has saddled six winners at the meet. In two prior starts at Belmont, Rogue Victory faced a pair of Bill Mott-trained rivals that went on to win major stakes – Mr. Sidney and Al Khali. In his most recent start, Rogue Victory ran into Right One, who has won both of his starts in the United States and is pointing to the Poker Stakes.

A pace edge could belong to Colonialism, a Juddmonte Farm homebred trained by Mott who held on stubbornly after a prolonged duel at Keeneland last out.

Alfarabi, who beat this year’s Santa Anita Handicap runner-up Setsuko last year, makes his third start of the season for Chad Brown, whose seven turf wins are tops at the meet.

Xodo, a five-time winner on turf, dirt, and synthetic at anywhere from 8-1 to 28-1, has been freshened since a troubled trip at Gulfstream for Bobby Ribuado.

Completing the turf-meant lineup are Dominant Jeannes, a rallying second in his grass debut at Aqueduct for Tom Albertrani; and Liberty Cap, a Kiaran McLaughlin-trained 3-year-old who gets a five-pound concession from his older rivals.

Flying Zee Stable, the meet’ leading owner with eight wins, sends out contenders in three allowance races earlier on the card, beginning with race 3, when Life’s Measure takes on open company after back-to-back wins over New York-bred fillies for Carlos Martin. She will have to deal with Island School, the probable favorite after running second to R  Heat Lightning in the Gulfstream Park Oaks.

The Flying Zee entry of Lady Vi and Those Lion Eyes book-end race  5, and they figure to vie for favoritism with Gambling Geraldine, a lengthy debut winner as a 2-year-old here last July for Repole Stable and Todd Pletcher.

Gambling Geraldine was edged at 1-2 when returned in March, and raced wide in an overnight stakes three weeks later. She has been idle two months, but drilled a bullet half-mile on the main track recently.

“We’re pleased with her workouts and pleased with her condition,” said assistant trainer Jonathan Thomas. “I’m not sure if coming from out of it is really her best game.”