09/08/2011 2:59PM

Emerald Downs: Belvoir's heart remains at Emerald, but business is good in California

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AUBURN, Wash. – After a whirlwind seven weeks at Del Mar, trainer Vann Belvoir spent Thursday morning hauling horses up to Santa Anita. Belvoir is still a factor at Emerald Downs, ranking sixth in the trainer standings, but for the time being, his focus is on Southern California. He swam with the big fish at Del Mar, finishing with 5 wins from 32 starters, and plans to jump back into deep waters when Santa Anita kicks off its fall schedule Sept. 30.

Belvoir ended the Del Mar meeting with a flourish, sending out Jade Taylor to win the first race on closing day Wednesday. That victory bookended the one Belvoir scored with Mentidoso on opening day. Owned by Belvoir and his wife, Sauci, Jade Taylor captured a $16,000 claiming race at 10-1.

“It was perfect, just a great meet,” Belvoir said Thursday. “I knew that winning any race would be an accomplishment, and we came out of there with five. I picked up some new clients who are ready to get something going at Santa Anita, and I’ve got another new group that wants to claim some horses. It’s starting to roll. People are starting to notice us. It’s pretty exciting.”

Belvoir lost four horses at Del Mar, including former Emerald standouts Giuseppe G and Certified Diamond, and gained seven new ones via the claiming box. He will have 25 horses at Santa Anita, including a group of unraced 2-year-olds with abundant promise.

“It’s an awesome deal. To win yesterday, I just can’t say enough about these owners giving me a chance,” Belvoir said. “Hopefully, we can keep doing what we’re doing, just be aggressive and win some races. Keep claiming, keep moving. The key down here is that financially, it’s pretty gratifying.”

Belvoir’s horses earned $142,230 at Del Mar, an average of $4,445 per start. At Emerald, where he has saddled 27 winners, his horses have averaged $1,394 per start. Money can be a great motivator, and there’s more of it in Southern California. That said, Belvoir said he will continue to have a string at Emerald, for the rest of 2011, and again in 2012.

“Emerald Downs is a place I want to be,” Belvoir said. “I hope the racing can thrive. But financially, it’s a tough go, and that’s everywhere, not just at Emerald. Pound for pound, it doesn’t get any better than Emerald. The backside is perfect, it’s a great track, great crowds. If we can get the purses up, that would be awesome.”