10/26/2012 3:33PM

Belmont: Six turf races on a closing-day card devoted to 2-year-olds

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Tom Keyser
Coconut Shrimp, trained by Todd Pletcher, is a prime contender in the Chelsea Flower for 2-year-old fillies.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Nine races restricted to 2-year-olds, including a pair of turf stakes, will bring to a close the Belmont Park fall meeting Sunday.

This is the third consecutive year the New York Racing Association has attempted to close the Belmont fall meet with a card devoted to all 2-year-olds. Last year, the program had to be scrapped because of a freak October snowstorm. This year, there is bad weather en route to New York, but the card is likely to get in before Hurricane Sandy arrives.

Six of the nine races are scheduled for the turf, including the $85,000 Incurable Optimist for males and the $85,000 Chelsea Flower for females. Both races are at a mile.

The New York-bred Notacatbutallama is the horse to beat in the Incurable Optimist. After winning his second start at Saratoga by 6 1/2 lengths on Aug. 20, Notacatbutallama finished fourth in the Grade 2 With Anticipation 10 days later and second in the Grade 3 Pilgrim here on Oct. 8.

The With Anticipation produced next out-stakes winners Balance the Books and Joha, both of whom are headed for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. In the Pilgrim, Notacatbutallama finished second to Noble Tune, who is also headed to the Breeders’ Cup.

“He kind of got stuck inside. Noble Tune got the jump on him but he continued to close well down the lane,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains Notacatbutallama for Mike Repole. “I thought it was an encouraging effort.”

Notacatbutallama will break from post 9 under John Velazquez.

Holy Endeavor, another New York-bred, comes off a front-running score versus statebreds here on Sept. 30, in his third start on turf.

Special Skills, who won his first two starts, including the Nick Shuk Memorial at Delaware, comes a third-place finish in the Pilgrim.

In the Chelsea Flower, the Pletcher-trained, Repole-owned Coconut Shrimp takes on the Chad Brown-trained Flashy Gal.

Coconut Shrimp, comes off a second-place finish in the Voodoo Dancer to longshot Flattermewithroses.

“I thought she settled maybe a little too much and kind of let the winner get the jump on her, but I thought she ran pretty well,” Pletcher said.

Brown had thought about pre-entering Flashy Gal in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, but opted for the more conservative route. Flashy Gal comes off a maiden win in her second start.

“In her first start she got pinched back at the start and was off the screen for most of the race and ran well,” Brown said. “In her maiden win, she was more tactical and actually went on the attack on the turn and really showed a good turn of foot and finished the race off well.”

Mariel N Kathy, a front-running winner on Sept. 16, has continued to train forwardly off the turf for trainer Dominick Schettino, who has enjoyed a terrific fall meet.

In other races of note Sunday:

◗ Race 4 is a six-furlong maiden event for 2-year-old colts featuring the second starts for Clawback and Revolutionary, second and third, respectively in the same race at Saratoga.

Revolutionary, trained by Pletcher was bet down to 7-5 and got clobbered at the break and rallied from 14 lengths back to lose by 1 1/4 lengths.

“Ideally, I would have liked to have stretched him out a tick more – seven-eighths would have been optimal – but it looks like he drew a favorable post and he’s training well,” said Pletcher, whose horse will break from the outside in a nine-horse field.

Secret Bid is a Phipps family homebred by Street Cry out of the six-time Grade 1-winning mare Inside Information. Circle City is by A.P. Indy out of the dam Miss Halory, who is a half-sister to three graded stakes winners.

◗ Race 7, for fillies, includes Tapicat, a $725,000 yearling purchase by Benjamin Leon’s Besilu Stables, who has been firing bullets at Belmont for trainer Bill Mott. Brown has Sky Skier, a daughter of Sky Mesa who is a half-sister to four winners.

◗ Following Sunday’s card, there are four dark days before Aqueduct opens on Nov. 2. First post that day is 12:30 p.m.