10/15/2010 2:30PM

Early head tosses not as important as Violon Sacre's late kick

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Alyssa Spakowski/EQUI-PHOTO
Violon Sacre, winning the Battlfield at Monmouth, is capable of handling firm or soft turf.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The sight of Violon Sacre tossing his head about early in his races is probably a bit disconcerting to those who backed him at the windows. But the sight of Violon Sacre lengthening his stride and roaring through the stretch has, more times than not, had a soothing effect on those who put their money down.

Violon Sacre will seek his 10th career win in his 17th start Sunday when he meets nine rivals in the Grade 3, $100,000 Knickerbocker Stakes at Belmont Park. One of those opponents is Presious Passion, who could scratch if trainer Mary Hartmann deems the course too soft. Belmont received more than an inch of rain Thursday night, but dry conditions were expected to prevail Friday through Sunday.

Violon Sacre, a 5-year-old son of Stravinsky, has run well regardless of course condition. In Europe, he won stakes on soft and good ground. In four starts in North America, he won the Battlefield at Monmouth over firm turf and, most recently, the PTHA President’s Cup at Parx Racing. Though the course was officially labeled firm, trainer Patrick Biancone said “there was cut in the ground.”

In each of his last three races, Violon Sacre has tossed his head about frantically, as if he wanted to do more than his rider would allow. But in each of those three races, he unleashed a furious late run. He won two stakes and was beaten a neck by the millionaire Get Serious.

“He’s got a good turn of foot, when you put him in position to do it, he does it,” Biancone said.

Pablo Fragoso, who is 2 for 2 on Violon Sacre, has the call on the horse from post 9.

If he runs, Presious Passion will try to use his speed to wire this field. He came back off a three-month layoff with a fourth-place finish in an allowance race at Delaware Park. But Hartmann said she was using the race “as a breeze to get his head in the game. He came out of the race in very good shape.”

If Presious Passion doesn’t run, Interpatation will likely become the speed of the race. But he is winless in six starts since upsetting Gio Ponti in the 2009 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

Operation Red Dawn, won last year’s Knickerbocker as the 5-2 favorite. He is winless since, but returns off a summer break for trainer Christophe Clement, who said his 8-year-old gelding will like a turf course with give in the ground.