05/09/2006 11:00PM

Big names on small stage


ELMONT, N.Y. - Regardless on which surface it is run, Friday's $58,000 allowance feature at Belmont Park resembles a graded-stakes event.

Nine of the 11 horses entered for the turf are stakes winners, including Relaxed Gesture, who ended his 4-year-old season with a victory in the Group 1 Canadian International. Among the four main-track-only entrants are graded-stakes winners Evening Attire and Tap Day, who have excellent records on wet tracks.

The allowance race is scheduled for nine furlongs on the inner turf course. Rain is forecast to begin Thursday night and possibly last through the weekend. If the race is moved to the dirt, and eight betting interests remain, the purse of the race will increase 20 percent, to $69,800, in accordance with a new rule NYRA instituted last month.

If the race remains on turf, bettors will have many options. Relaxed Gesture had a sensational 4-year-old season, running in the money in all seven starts, including second-place finishes in the Grade 1 Manhattan and Grade 2 Bowling Green over this course.

Trainer Christophe Clement shipped to Dubai for the $5 million Sheema Classic in March, but Relaxed Gesture faded to 12th after chasing the early pace. Kent Desormeaux rides from post 9.

Trainer Stanley Hough has entered to run. Cacht Wells has not run since he upset Relaxed Gesture in last July's Bowling Green. He drew the rail and has been working steadily for his return.

Request for Parole ended a 13-race losing streak by winning a classified allowance at Gulfstream Park on March 26. He probably won't run on turf, because he prefers firm footing. He may run on dirt, however, a surface over which he won stakes as a 3-year-old.

Todd Pletcher has entered for the turf. Tiganello, a group winner in Germany, finished a troubled third in his debut at Keeneland. Timo, a multiple graded winner on turf as a 3-year-old, has not raced in 16 months.

Though Bahama John is one of the few non-stakes winners in the field, he may be the horse to beat if the race is moved to the dirt. Bahama John is 2 for 3 on a wet track and 2 for 2 at 1 1/8 miles.