06/21/2009 11:00PM

Dynaforce should relish distance, footing

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Dynaforce, winning last year's Flower Bowl on yielding turf, will get a break in weight.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The 40th day of racing isn't until next Wednesday, but it seems like we've already had at least 40 days and nights of rain through an unseasonably cool and wet spring at Belmont.

Perhaps the silver lining is that it has to taper off sooner or later, so maybe the stars are aligned for a relatively dry summer and a minimum of off-the-turf races at Saratoga. That would be only fair, because 55 grass races had been wiped out through Thursday and five more scheduled for Friday's twilight card weren't looking good at this writing.

After the latest all-day deluge, the forecast called for showers to redevelop late Friday, with thunderstorms possible at any time through Saturday, when five more grass races are highlighted by the Grade 2, $250,000 New York Stakes.

The New York is scheduled for 10 furlongs on the inner course (it would be shortened to 1 1/8 miles if taken off), and the turf figures to be a bog, since it was already good to yielding before being soaked through on Thursday.

That sort of demanding footing, along with a stretch-out in distance, should be favorable for Dynaforce, who narrowly missed in this race in her U.S. debut last year. Meanwhile, morning-line favorite Criticism has run her five best U.S. races on firm turf, and was beaten at 3-5 in the Orchid on a course labeled good.

A homebred half-sister to Cetewayo, a five-time graded stakes winner who banked more than $1.1 million with his patented late kick and handled rain-softened turf well, Dynaforce won her career debut in France going a mile on soft turf. Her three subsequent victories, all at 10 furlongs or longer, came on non-firm ground as well. Most notable among them was a four-length score over Mauralakana in last fall's Flower Bowl, on yielding ground that was probably closer to soft judging from a winning time nearly 10 seconds off the course record.

Dynaforce made her first start of the year in the Gallorette, when she gave away six to eight pounds and faded to finish off the board at 9-10. Because she was the shortest price in the sequence and singled on so many tickets in the pick four, she helped produce a $34,622 payoff. (In stark contrast, the late pick four was all chalk, capped by Rachel Alexandra, and paid all of $130.)

Dynaforce had not run at such a short distance since her debut more than three years earlier. Interestingly, one of the handicapping points of Belmont Stakes Day, exhibited by Diamondrella and Gio Ponti in their respective Grade 1 wins, is that, so long as they have the requisite class and burst of acceleration, it can be easier for turf horses to push the envelope of their distance limitations than to run at distances shorter than their best. In the Just a Game, the course factor trumped the distance factor, as Forever Together didn't quite have her customary late charge, while Diamondrella, heretofore a sprinter, was able to maintain her remarkable late turn of foot at a mile. Similarly, Gio Ponti, galloped along for a mile, and only needed to fire off a big final quarter to blow by the leaders in the Manhattan.

Social Queen was notching her fourth win at 1 1/16 miles in the Gallorette. That was also the best distance for runner-up All Is Vanity. It was much too short for Dynaforce.

In addition to distance and footing issues, Dynaforce also benefits from the fact that the 66th running of the New York will be run under allowance conditions. Were the New York still a handicap, she is a Grade 1 winner and might at best be at equal weights with Criticism, who has never run in a Grade 1 stakes. Here is an excerpt from the fine print from the conditions:

"Non-winners of a Grade 1 or Grade 2 on the turf since Oct. 1, 2008 allowed 3 lbs.; $60,000 on turf in 2009, 5 lbs."

Dynaforce, who won the Flower Bowl last Sept. 27, fits on both counts, and pulls five pounds from Criticism. Going 1 1/4 miles on soft turf, that kind of weight break means considerably more than it would, say, at six furlongs over a bouncy dirt track.