09/25/2001 12:00AM

A CLOSER LOOK at Belmont races on 9/26

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1st Belmont

Brassheart

Cuts back in distance after a two-turn grass prep he certainly needed; this guy worked well of late and seems quite the value possibility now; inside post looms a concern but consider for exotics.

Angelo the Jet

Second half of the entry tried the Saratoga lawn with limited success in last one but he was competitive when sent off at long odds at this trip and level in debut; this dude lacks early speed and that will probably limit him at this trip; seems a decent compliment to his barn mate; like others more.

O'Dassuny

Returns after some 6 months off while sporting ordinary works and solid human connections; would like to see more early speed in evidence but runner has had time to mature since last start and could go better now; trifecta chance.

Lord Buckley

Owns some early speed and he held in there for part when likely still in need of a race last time; pace was just ordinary in his last one and we're wondering what happens when he's forced to try to keep up with quicker individuals today; this one is a candidate to be overbet.

Salute Him

Made debut run at Calder more than 7 weeks ago and now returns to NY to face state-bred competition; hood comes off for this one in an attempt to effect a better start; he's tough figure-wise and the work on Sept. 16 says he's ready; definite threat.

Vee Eye Pee

This guy is bred speed-to-speed and it's appropriate to disregard the last one when the saddle slipped; his 2 best efforts happened off the bench so he can probably be counted upon to deliver that early foot now; if he can steal away early then his chances for success will be greatly enhanced; have to recognize this guy as a contender.

Diplomatically

Shortens up from 7 panels and it's important to note the pedestrian pace of his last race; it would be a mistake to expect this one to attend the early pace today as he faces the same predicament known to Vosburgh Stakes competitors when cutting back to the 6 panels of the Breeders' Cup Sprint; must improve to threaten these.

Jelly Roll Rock

Took action before breaking poorly in Spa debut and now the runner returns a month later on a different course; a.m. action has been limited since his bow but this one does have a right to improve; others just seem more promising at this point.

Stimson House

Has threatened to pay like a lottery ticket wherever he went but this 3yo has yet to see the real race at any point; turf effort at Penn National was a dud and as is the case with lottery tickets, whether you buy a ticket or not you still have approximately the same chance of winning...

Saratoga Card

Runner has had many chances, all at this level, and while he managed a couple of fringe finishes recently he'll probably struggle with the move back to 6 panels; like to see the trio of interim works since last but this one still seems a bit of an outsider.

Daddie Jim

Returns after 6 months on the shelf and signs up for first Belmont try after prepping at Philly Park; the speed figures earned in March of this year project to be competitive now but it's your guess as to whether he'll be ready off the bench; seems iffy.

Mister Polyphemus

First try can be excused as he stumbled badly in the early stages but now the De Rosa trainee is returning after 7 1/2 months on the shelf; works in preparation for this try have been ordinary while he doesn't list a move on this track; pefer others.

Proletariat

Popped then stopped hard at this level in most recent try over 7 panels and now will face plenty of other speed when cutting back in distance; can see this guy being in the early hunt from this post but a wide trip may be in order and this dude cannot afford to lose an inch of ground out there; longshot.

Kid Miraglia

Sire is ordinary with firsters while winning dam's 3 prior foals didn't do much of anything; to debut in Sept. of one's 4yo season isn't a great sign and we're going to have to fish off of a different pier.

Well Connected

$70K yearling purchase is by a sire which is average with firsters while dam lists 6 winners from 11 prior foals including Scottish Monk, a winner of more than $650K; outside post can be overcome and human connections are solid; like the recent works and this one seems a possibility for the Daily Double.

-George Cottrell

2nd Belmont

Fonzie

Got his bike revved-up vs. similar in that last one while not exactly jumping over too many of'em; this 4yo has had plenty of chances over time and there was nothing about his last finish which suggest that the Fonz is ready to come through in the clutch just yet; Joanie and Chachi are siding with others.

Whiff

Give him credit for still facing Sp Wt company after 31 career losses and note that he's been on the board in 3 straight vs. that kind; love the names in his pedigree while the speed figures are okay in this corner; just how much can you venture on a horse with his record?; hard to love.

Outta Print

Makes first start for a claiming tag while still in search of initial on-the-board finish; hoss has been away for a couple of months but this marks just his 2nd career try when going long on a fast track; note carefully that his best race to date came under just such conditions; he drew the 3 post again to the surprise of exactly no one and the colt could make a bit of noise in this spot.

Shift Right

Bond trainee makes first start for a claiming tag after a turf prep which didn't go too well; this dude hasn't done too badly when going long on fast tracks and he owns decent speed in a race which doesn't feature much pace opposition; draw a line through turf and slop efforts and reconsider; strong possibility vs. this group.

Admiral Zimbobby

Moves back with maiden company after a decent runner-up effort when 32-1 vs. winners; we'd like to have seen more early speed from this guy in last and don't miss the fact that he did the final 3 furlongs in :41; perhaps one you'd do well to watch.

Freddy's Dream

Saratoga try was ordinary and now the runner moves back in for a claiming tag; he finished in front vs. similar here back in June only to be DQ'ed; horse needed last and will now get G. Stevens to guide him vs. softer company; this one's lack of speed is the main obstacle.

Letrado

Didn't debut until age 4 and his dirt starts were quite dull; he's probably fit after the grass marathons but of course he may find these miles in front of him in the early going; with so few foes he'll run the risk of getting lost back there as the real race is being won; first-time-for-a-tag is a strong angle but he'll have to have his running shoes on to catch'em.

-George Cottrell

3rd Belmont

Belongs Fast

Pahokee was back here for the repeat last Fri. to stun a faster, deeper group at 11-1; that upgrades this filly's last-out; and maybe the claim game had caught up with her as well; yet the NY-bred N2x failures are what sent her for a tag in the first place; 3 for 7 here, but inclined to think she adds just a part today.

So Far So Good

Been plugging along in mid-pack with the same N2x faces ever since beating a dead-tired dead-of-winter N1x group at the Big A; her finish has always evaporated over this oval; once Seeking It All puts her away, she'll likely hit the brakes again after the half; no thanks.

Precedence

Looking for answers, dirt-to-turf again seems meant to shake up 5yo more than a realistic look at upsetting Seeking It All; like So Far So Good and Alylivia, flashes a trace of early speed now and then; yet it's hard to like any of those three for even a slice; keep looking.

Seeking It All

Seeking a gift spot backing out of the NY Oaks and she's found it here; crushed a not-too-dissimilar NY-bred crew here in late June; figure Prado to let Alylivia or So Far So Good wind out in front for a half, then blow by early in the turn and open up; odds-on, but at least the tri slots are a total toss-up; they'll never touch her.

Wild Cure

Like many of these, N2x quest has taken much longer than entry-level allowance; yet this 3yo does sport the freaky 105-1 exacta crash here in June; once Seeking It All opens up, who can say?; seven weeks once-prepped and nothing to lose by taking the last shot; could be Wild tri kicker.

Smooth Blues

Rojas to So Far So Good, but Chop-Chop could be the wake-up call; added two a.m. works, the latter a useful :49 and change, after fair Spa turf seasonal return; both lifetime wins came on the main track; and the race is wide-open for someone to make a competent run into Seeking It All's stretch vacuum; has look at a slice.

Razzberry Beret

Beaten a grand total of eight horses in four starts this year; got in as MTO just six days ago, went nowhere fast when Northern Streak streaked clear; N3L Philly lifers left her in mid-pack at 3-1 before that; yet makes third start off the layoff and overdue for better; hot Castillo sticks; maybe worth the tri include if stretching out.

Alylivia

Go for broke claiming bid at a mile here in July came after similar lackluster try off identical brief freshener; that's too much of a stretchto contemplate upset scenario; but at least she likely rebounds today to offer outside pace pressure to the favorite; but the grit to finish the job? unlikely; beats a retreat in the lane.

-John Garry

4th Belmont

Out of Hand

New grad not bad; outgunned in Spa bow; but Shore ship was gritty diploma drive; and no one here can put the race out of gelding's reach; would want a price first time against winners & making Belmont bow; but this was home base for diploma quest; decent two-for-one ticket should get Martin on the board for the meet.

Broadway Johnny

Mid-July 9f 35k grass blast a suitable effort fresh; can see Circatwothousand playing pace target role while Santos bides his time just to his inside; versatile pedigree; main track works say maybe; but you'd want a price on the entry to find out for sure; third-choice might be enough; consider if seeking alternative.

Ravel's Bolero

Last two about as slow as the song itself; so which horse shows up after the 10-week benching? the one with the viable pace-chasing spring form, or the one with the summer blahs?; like the comeback tab and the lower tag suits; saves ground throughout; still leaning against.

Count de Hesse

Has picked his spots at 3 without much success; drops back near the purchase tag to get gelding off the margins; June 75k tracking bid in the neighborhood; can Davis inherit the lead from outside speed duo?; might be enticed for tiny saver if 13-1 again; but realistically could be one-paced once more.

Kananaskis

Slow fuse took surprise Spa tri kicker for similar tag the last time he ventured out of N1x NY-breds; but really only split the field in that spot after war of attrition took out the also-rans; hard to ignore for lower-rung trifecta action; but might be too little too late even for a slice today.

Unlaced Waters

Beaten favorite three of four won't stop chalk players from playing 'what if' here; what if dropping the hood gets colt to relax?; what if he fires fresh again?; Mig perfectly capable of carrying this speed 8.5f as colt is pitted against strictly sophomores; if they put away Circatwothousand, might be able to clear altogether; but you'd better box that exacta to be sure.

Circatwothousand

Delaware starter set merits respect in Belmont bow; fresh, game and fully engaged on the pace; figures to give Unlaced Waters fits from start to finish; willingness to settle for second comes in handy if that foe proves too much; Chop-Chop batting over .500 in the exacta; key player.

Proud Marine

Didn't take long to march past maiden claiming foes in late-spring Big A sortie; but hasn't had the answer with winners; and like Ravel's Bolero & Kananaskis, might need a field of just diploma holders for best; hard to completely dismiss hailing from hot barn; but even a committed bid settles for less today.

-John Garry

5th Belmont

Rapid Raj

Spa stumble was a classic example of a runner completely compromised right out of the gate; Johnny V. did well to dig him even slightly out of that hole; yet colt has drawn the rail again and you have to wonder...; at least Sept. 16 blowout at the Big A is the right signal; track is playing his way; diploma day.

True Runner

Werner magic with 2yo's; but with that said, down in Dallas debut, this colt didn't face the likes of Came Home or Mayakovsky like some of these did; Tricky Storm not a bad sort, but would have his hands full with these; useful Sat. blowout noted, yet can't back right off the bench; later.

Just Flight

The second effort is the blueprint for success here; either he's got the game to push by Rapid Raj at the critical moment or he doesn't; no surprise that the race comes down to chalky duo; tactical speed may just barely save the day; but you're banking this colt gets Rojas off the donut; gut check.

Crypto's Knight

Spa dud says no thanks; could the Criterium clunker have taken the try out of him?; two 40-day breaks & now tagged?; Castillo riding 26 percent, notably win or bust; any pace engagement with Rapid Raj costs colt dearly; could be tuning up for Kentucky trip.

Stallvik

Blinks and the stretchout nudged him into early striking range at the Spa, but didn't want 8.5f just yet; then took overland route against a more competitive half-mile and was never a factor; can he cut back 3f and find some sort of stretch stride out of deep pack?; seems unlikely.

Sundance Square

This has to be one of the few 2yo maiden heats this meet where the firster didn't have the edge; Hennig having excellent meet, Bridgmohan not so fortunate; venerable sire always capable with debut types (& 2yo's); but only the late Aug. gate breeze hints at being primed for this; wait one.

Loaded Springs

The grey took schooling trip in Spa bow; ran to his odds with 50k group where no one was in a big hurry to get home; Stevens is the sole enticement here; but colt's lack of gate speed hurts plenty; Sept. a.m. quartet on the slow side, even for Zito; not yet.

Copywriter

Maybe some learning experience noted with main track pair at the Spa; but you get the feeling this guy needs more ground, an inside draw and a smaller field to have things his way; Sept. a.m. trio encouraging; but be lucky to scrape on for tri kicker in this spot.

-John Garry

6th Belmont

East Coast Country

Last time she missed the exacta was last March at Gulfstream; winner of 2 straight idle since Saratoga, but loves to win and obviously hard hitter is a major threat here; the pick.

Betty's Hat

Sent long in last and posted a Pimlico win with Gary Stevens; rider change this time, but Getluckysometime nipped her in Saratoga August claimer; charges late per usual.

Getluckysometime

It took a race after shipping in from California, but she posted a game wire-to-wire victory over Betty's Hat; East Coast Country, Prado's Mystique and Delta Quick all have quickness from the gate, which makes her job tougher to repeat.

Prado's Mystique

Returns to the main track after lukewarm success on turf; could not win at Churchill Downs at lower levels and plenty of other early speed in here does not help the case.

Favorite Ending

Rare claimer for this filly, who has a rather low winning percentage; style fits as she is a closer in a race that figures to have a legitimate pace; drop can help, but she doesn't win enough to get us too excited; style says yes and inclusion in exotics recommended.

Delta Quick

Found Philly Park allowance rivals to her liking, but has not fared well over this Belmont strip; rare attempt in a claimer, so deserves some respect as she faced swifter rivals in last Belmont attempt; still not convinced.

Offtheturf

Seems better on turf at the moment and she did not fire a few times when left in when races were taken off the sod; right level, but seems like wrong surface.

-Art Gropper

7th Belmont

North Broadway

Drops off the August claim when tiring late; Chavez named again. leaving several legitimate contenders; actually like the drop off the claim, while suspicious, this angle wins more than jumping in class off a 1st claim; scored in Belmont muddy allowance last spring and should be tough off the sharp plunge; the one to beat.

Honor In Battle

Saratoga win was over lesser and has not lived up to the expectations following January $50K claim; best races are when showing early speed, which been absent in last pair; seems like lesser half of entry.

Bonus Pay Day

In decent form at Saratoga, chasing a drop-down winner in last; win came on AQU inner dirt and leaps up in class for this assignment; seems to be improving since the March claim, but questionable at this claiming price.

Icebreaker

Jersey-bred was impressive at Monmouth and was bumped when bet in J-bred allowance last out; giant 'for sale' posted and hot Velazquez takes the call; this is probably a tougher spot than last pair, but the pick deserves serious respect off solid paper.

Duration

Drops to lowest claim price ever and only fires his best shot when in the mood, which isn't very often; lone win on a wet track and despite the drop, leaning towards others.

Making My Move

Claimed off a dull one and Bailey had no success piloting in last pair with Gryder hoping to wake him up off the claim; behind Honor In Battle in latest and Duration 2 back, notch below, pass.

My New Love

Claimed when behind this same group and Chavez leaves for North Broadway; speedster was used up in last, chasing the fractions with biggest hope going all the way from the gate, but following Chop Chop off.

Bucket o'Luck

Chavez and drop to lowest claim price ever was enough for this son of superb sprinter Dust Bucket to break his maiden; Chavez exits for North Broadway and it took so long for him to finally graduate that 2 in a row would be a surprise.

Max Patch

Claimed off a solid Belmont score and returns above the claim price; obviously has an affinity for this surface, but works been mediocre for 1st start since June; not gone badly in a long time, but hiatus and raise in class the concerns; one to fear on favorite oval.

Rich Coins

No early speed in his game and was wide at an advanced level in 1st try after the claim; connections take the plunge with him, but perhaps a longer event will suit his needs more.

-Art Gropper

8th Belmont

Time for Faith

Sure the maiden breaker was nice, and it came going long on turf over a promising bunch from a tough post, but now she dives into a much deeper end of the pool ? she's facing not only winners here but some horses who are stakes caliber, to say the least; may end up being as good, but at this stage of the game she appears to be biting off quite a bit.

Platinum Tiara

She's not only a SW on turf but remember she was 2nd in the G1 BC Juvenile Fillies last year; seems more comfortable on the sod, and while she hasn't been quite able to handle graded stakes foes on the turf she hasn't been far away; the drop here could be just what the Dr. ordered; huge threat.

Autumn Rhythm

English filly showed plenty of potential with a monster maiden win last year, but when she resurfaced in April vs. winners she was dull, and now hasn't been seen since; maybe she'll enjoy her new surroundings ? she's bred to have talent being by a major Group 1-winning horse; but the layoff, new surroundings and poor showing the only time out this year are significant hurdles.

The Goddess Athird

Good effort in Jersey in the Just Smashing; trouble is, a couple of these finished in front of her; now she must close the gap on them, as well as handle some other toughies; at least she's 4 for 11 on turf so she's not one to take lightly; food for thought.

Cozzy Corner

Stormed home nicely to win the Just Smashing; only poor effort came in the G2 Lake Placid and odds are she's much better than that showing; after all, she was 3rd beaten just a length in the G3 Lake George prior to that; last certainly shows she's bounced back from that and back on her game; major player.

Diversa

Turf was a new hurdle for her last time in the Captive Miss but she handled it nicely and darn near won; not only was it her turf debut but it marked her first start in 3 months, though it's no real surprise she was ready to go since Mr. Kimmel does the training; there's certainly ability here and now that the surface isn't an issue she's dangerous here, too.

Fiddle

Found graded stakes foes a bit much to handle in her last pair; still, she wasn't embarrassed ? can anyone else in here get within earshot of Voodoo Dancer when she's on her game? ran well on this course to just miss vs. N3L foes in the spring; worth a look, though this spot isn't a whole lot easier than her last 2 graded stakes assignments.

Nouvelle

Just couldn't quite go with Cozzy Corner late; still, it was a darn good effort; now she returns to BEL, where she's 2 for 3 on turf ? and the one loss came by a nose; of course, those were vs. high-priced claimers, but she's obviously turned into a nice filly since being moved to turf and if able to get close to 'Corner last time she merits much respect here ? and the price figures square.

Talent

Nice N2L win at SAR, particularly as she had to do it from post 12; only local try on turf resulted in a handy win and that was on yielding turf? if the rains persist she could get similar footing here; sure the water's a bit deeper but there's still room fordevelopment in this just her 6th career start; chance.

Santolina

Import was given a shot vs. some of England's bigm girls in those 2 G1 assignments;sure she wasn't a factor, but she didn't get beat 20 lengths, either; previously showed ample ability as well; if she shipped OK and adapted to her new surroundings she can be mighty scary for sure, but that's still a pretty big 'if'; mixed feelings.

Primere Rose

Main track only entrant comes off a good turf try, so the surface isn't so much an issue; previously ran well on dirt, though remember those efforts came sprinting; yet to make much of a dent on this main oval, but note Bailey saw enough to ride the last 2 times; food for thought it this thing is played on dirt.

Tap Dance

Main track only entrant has been thrown in against soem of the big girls; found G1 company a bit too much to handle but that isn't the issue here; comes off a strong N3X try at SAR, making her a good fit here; dangerous if this thing is played her way.

-Michael Hammersly

9th Belmont

Route Nine P

DId not fare well facing older New York-bred allowance foes and today attempts open company, but with straight 3-year-olds and back in for a claiming price; 7 weeks off since latest, but not convinced off maiden and n2L triumphs at Philly Park.

J C's Lady

Speedster has had problems in last few when not making the front; fired 2 good ones over this Belmont strip, including maiden win, but races following the claim been dull; pace factor.

Polly Moon

Away 3 months since stamina failed her at Belmont; returns to a similar spot of her dull efforts; would be a surprise off recent paper and vacation.

Bensonhurst's Best

Turf experiment failed, now Pletcher takes a substantial drop with her; 2-for-5 against straight 3-year-olds and Velazquez, who gets the return call, has won twice piloting; obvious contender 1st time in a claimer for expert connections; the one to beat.

Rock'n Metallika

Moves up in class following a pair of so-so attempts with lesser at Monmouth; maiden-only winner tossed worse race ever over this Belmont strip, leaning towards others.

Haitian Heat

Returns to Belmont where last win occurred at a higher level and was accomplished despite a rough start and a bumping scene; been working well and know on her best she could take these; the one to fear, even off the rest.

Final Dispersal

Lightly raced filly won at Calder at similar claiming level 10 months ago; barn is tremendous at getting horses to fire off a long break and this one has been idle since February; awful break from the gate when last seen, but any of her other races would probably be enough to win this; Gary Stevens guiding cinches any convictions we may have had off the layoff, the pick.

Charming Bride

Maiden away 2 months and takes on winners in a rather strange move; added Lasix and attempted maiden claimers last out, not faring well; ambitiously placed.

Seasonal Change

Rarely connects, which is a huge negative; away 2 months since tiring in similar spot with best recent try occurring in Belmont mud; always fires from the gate, but win pictures not her speciality.

Karakorum Conquest

Nosed in Finger Lakes allowance and her winning percentage leaves a lot to be desired; not much in previous Belmont attempts and not much prior to last; much to prove this level with the big girls.

T.V. Secretary

Best races are when she is in close proximity to the lead, but outside post and Darkest Mirage hinder chances of clearing and going all the way; won over lesser at Monmouth 3 back with latest rather poor; needs fast start for best hope.

Darkest Mirage

Inner dirt maiden winner away 3 months since dull over sthis Belmont strip; new rider for this speedster, who will not be aided by this draw or any of the front runners inside her; flys early, then trys to find something left late.

-Art Gropper