07/14/2010 6:38PM

Belvoir the younger racing on two fronts


AUBURN, Wash. – Vann Belvoir tops the Emerald Downs trainer standings heading into the final 41 days of the 89-day meeting. He would like to win the title, but there are bigger things on his mind these days, like trying to establish a training toehold in the Midwest. So for the time being, Belvoir, 36, is splitting time between his home base at Emerald and Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa.

Several hours after saddling an also-ran in Sunday’s first race at Emerald, and then watching a horse trained by his father, Howard Belvoir, win the $50,000 Governor’s Handicap, Belvoir took to the road yet again.

“I usually stay at Emerald for the week of racing,” he said Tuesday from Prairie Meadows, “and then fly out on the red-eye Sunday night so I can be here Monday morning for training.”

Belvoir has won with 1 of his 7 starters since setting up shop in Iowa. Ace and Jim captured a $6,250 claiming sprint June 29, his fifth consecutive victory. Peaceful Reign, after finishing fourth in the $125,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap on June 25, is scheduled to compete in an allowance race Sunday. Next week, Belvoir will take four horses to Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., for that track’s Claiming Crown showcase July 24.

No Flies On Doodle, a two-time stakes winner at Emerald this year, will run in the $75,000 Glass Slipper, a six-furlong affair for fillies and mares who have started for $16,000 or less in 2009-10. No Flies On Doodle came home last of six in the $100,000 Saylorville Stakes at Prairie Meadows on June 25, an uncharacteristically poor showing for her, but a lively five-furlong workout last Thursday eliminated concerns about her fitness.

“She had some bounce in her step coming off the track, and she didn’t have that at Emerald,” Belvoir said. “It was unfortunate, she was in heat the day she ran here, and it totally threw her off her game. She was a handful in the paddock, and she never wanted to pick up the bridle. She gave no effort at all, and that’s not her.”

Forener, who suffered the first loss of his four-race career in the Auburn Handicap at Emerald May 23, will start in a $25,000 sprint stakes at Canterbury on the Claiming Crown undercard. He worked last Thursday, cruising five furlongs in a best-of-the-day 59.70 seconds.

“His work was off the charts,” Belvoir said. “My exercise rider, who’s 150 pounds, worked him and he just galloped. And his work before that was just incredible. I didn’t like the way he was acting there at Emerald. He was a little dull, but I think if we get him right, he can get back on his game. We’re just trying to get him back on target.”

Belvoir has saddled 35 winners at the Emerald meeting. Frank Lucarelli is second in the standings with 33, and defending champion Tim McCanna, heating up after a slow start, has 31.

Belvoir’s barn will lose more horses when Remington Park starts its Thoroughbred meeting Aug. 19. Belvoir was assigned 26 stalls in Oklahoma City, and they will have to be filled by race-ready horses. That means winning the Emerald training title may have to wait.

“Obviously, it’s going to be a tough situation with the numbers,” Belvoir said. “Everyone wants to win the thing, but I have to look to the future, and getting established in the Midwest, I think, will benefit me. In the meantime, we’ll go out and try to win every race we can. I’m still two in front, and if I go on heater, I can still win it. I think we’ll be OK.”

Wasserman tops earners

Howard Belvoir won five races last week, including the Governor’s Handicap with Assessment, and reached a milestone with his homebred Wasserman, who earned $1,250 for finishing fifth in the Governor’s and became the all-time leader in money earned at Washington racetracks with $504,312 – $1,027 more than Captain Condo.

It was a long-overdue breakthrough for the elder Belvoir, who began the meeting in a 6-for-103 funk, often entering horses at less-than-peak condition to help fill races.

Belvoir has started 241 runners at the meeting, an average of 5.02 per day. The record for most starters in one meeting is 333 by McCanna in 2008, an average of 3.66 per day.

“I think what happened with my dad is, his horses came in in late February and they weren’t really ready to run, but he stepped up to the plate, risked his own money and horses, to keep the program going,” Vann Belvoir said. “Those horses took a while to rebound. I think right now, you’re just seeing them starting to get fit and find their level, and he’s winning a bunch of races.