09/15/2010 2:55PM

Card starts with stakes

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Barbara D. Livingston
Nordic Truce will be shortening up to a mile for the Fifth Marine.

ELMONT, N.Y. – It isn’t often the best – and richest – race of the day is carded as the opener, but such is the case Friday at Belmont Park when eight 3-year-olds are scheduled to run in the $60,000 Fifth Marine Stakes at a mile over the Widener Turf Course.

The Fifth Marine is one of two overnight stakes on the program. The $60,000 Salute Me Sir for New York-breds on dirt, drew a field of five and will be run as the third race.

Nordic Truce, a two-time stakes winner, shortens up to a mile after running fourth in the Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga going 1 1/8 miles, Nordic Truce has two wins and a neck loss in the Grade 3 Hill Prince going one mile.

“I think the distance should be ideal for him,” trainer Christophe Clement said. “I think he’ll stay the mile and an eighth, but going a mile there should be more pace and with more pace it’ll give him a chance to settle.”

In the Hall of Fame, Nordic Truce was rank early on and had little with left to finish as he was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Interactif. Nordic Truce won the first three starts of his career, including the Dania Beach at Gulfstream and the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland.

Julien Leparoux, aboard for those stakes wins, is aboard again on Friday.

Radiohead was a Group 2 stakes winner in England before being purchased by a group led by IEAH Stable and turned over to Richard Dutrow Jr. He raced twice this winter on dirt, winning a conditioned allowance race at a mile before finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, a race he went into battling quarter cracks.

Dutrow has alternated Radiohead’s recent training between turf and dirt and is anxious though not overly confident his horse is ready to fire off a six-month layoff.

“It’s hard for me to answer questions about him,” Dutrow said. “I need to watch him run. He may need a race. I didn’t think he needed a race when he ran a mile at Gulfstream; I was pretty confident then. I’m not as confident now.”

Cornelio Velasquez rides Radiohead.

Asphalt takes a drop in class and returns to the course over which he won a maiden race last September. He shortens up in distance after finishing sixth in the Grade 2 American Derby going 1 3/16 miles.

Lighthouse Sound, Lubash, and Raging Wit are other contenders in this field.