06/12/2012 1:56PM

Belmont: Tested veterans going a mile on turf


ELMONT, N.Y. – A pair of quality allowance/optional claiming races spice up Thursday’s program at Belmont Park.

Among seven turf-meant older males in race 3, scheduled for a mile on the Widener course, are Abilio and Pocket Cowboys, veteran New York-breds who were off the board in the recent Kingston Stakes – a race Pocket Cowboys won last year for Scott Schwartz.

The Linda Rice-trained Abilio never made the lead in the Kingston. Before that, however, he went wire to wire and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure in his seasonal debut at Aqueduct.

Yankee Fortune and Souper Spectacular were third and fifth under these conditions on the inner turf May 19, and make the second starts of their current form cycles for Kiaran McLaughlin and Bill Mott, respectively. Yankee Fortune closed out 2010 winning five in a row, including two Grade 3 stakes, but has been blanked since then while chasing the likes of Grade 1 winners Get Stormy and Little Mike.

Souper Spectacular, a half-brother to Zenyatta, adds blinkers after failing to fire first time out in more than 16 months.

Evolutionist, Paris Vegas and Philly Ace also entered for turf.

Race 8 is not your average optional claimer with first-level allowance conditions, as the field of seven includes Associate and Green Monster, who are stakes-placed and return from layoffs.

Last fall, Associate won his first two starts off a $35,000 claim by Richard Dutrow Jr. by better than 18 lengths, and earned Beyer Figures of 104 and 97. In two subsequent starts, including the Grade 1 Malibu, the only horses to finish in front of him are The Factor, who is among the fastest sprinters in the nation; Rothko, recent winner of the Grade 3 Aristedes; and Emcee, who earned a 108 Beyer running third in the Tom Fool.

Green Monster will be making his first start since last fall’s Empire Classic, in which he ran off to a long lead under Alex Solis, fell back to third on the turn, and came again to get second behind Haynesfield.

“Alex said they really caught him off guard,” said trainer Bruce Brown. “At the top of the stretch, I was just hoping he would be able to hold on for third with the way those two horses blew by him.”

Bravo Romeo, Dangerous Trick, My Golden Opinion, Saint of Saints, and Spin Out complete the lineup.