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Finallymadeit gets acclimated to track
ELMONT, N.Y. - Finallymadeit may simply not have been good enough to win the Stephen Foster Handicap two weeks ago at Churchill Downs, but trainer Javier Negrete says he didn't give his horse the best chance to succeed in that Grade 1 race.
Negrete, based at Calder in south Florida, said he shipped Finallymadeit to Kentucky too close to the race. After setting the early pace in the Stephen Foster, Finallymadeit faded to seventh, beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Macho Again.
"He stresses out every time he travels," Negrete said by phone from Calder. "We shipped too close to the race and we didn't have a chance to breeze him to see how he handled the track."
Learning from that lesson, Finallymadeit shipped to Belmont Park the day after the Stephen Foster and on Wednesday he breezed a sharp half-mile in 47.24 seconds over the main track in preparation for a start in the Grade 1, $400,000 Suburban Handicap, to be run here July 4. Paco Lopez breezed the horse, but Negrete said Eduardo Nunez will ride him as he has in 41 of Finallymadeit's 45 career starts.
Finallymadeit, a 5-year-old son of Concerto, has won 16 of 45 races and is $755 away from becoming a millionaire. He has won a trio of Grade 3 stakes, including this year's Skip Away at Gulfstream and Memorial Day Handicap at Calder. This year, he also has finished second in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap to Albertus Maximus and was second to Smooth Air in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.
The likely horse to beat in the Suburban is It's a Bird, who also is based at Calder. It's a Bird is coming off back-to-back wins in the Oaklawn and Lone Star Park handicaps. Others pointing to the race are Asiatic Boy, Cool Coal Man, Real Merchant, Rising Moon, and Stud Muffin.
Wishful Tomcat heads Fratello Ed
The good news for trainers who entered horses in Saturday's $65,000 Fratello Ed Stakes for older New York-bred males is that Commentator is not in the field. Unfortunately for those same trainers, Wishful Tomcat is.
While Wishful Tomcat is certainly not as accomplished as two-time Whitney winner Commentator, he has been equally as tough against statebreds. Commentator went into the Kashatreya Stakes having gone 5 for 5 against New York-breds, and he won that race by seven lengths. Wishful Tomcat has won his last five against statebreds, including the Seaport Stakes last out in which he drew off under wraps.
Wishful Tomcat, who will break from post 3 under Ramon Dominguez, could get pace pressure from Future Prospect, who brings a four-race win streak into the field. Then there's R Clear Victory, who figures to lay right off those two front-runners from post 7.
Naughty New Yorker came back off an 11-month layoff in the Kashatreya and was beaten 13 1/4 lengths by Commentator. He would likely benefit from a contested pace and seeks to surpass the $1 million mark in earnings with a win or a second.
Z Fortune won the first three starts of his career - including two against New York-breds - but has lost his last nine, all in open stakes. Dr. V's Magic and That'srightofficer complete the field.
Carolyn's Cat tops First Flight
Carolyn's Cat, front-running winner of the Grade 2 Vagrancy Handicap last month, will seek a repeat of that performance in Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 First Flight Handicap at seven furlongs.
Carolyn's Cat drew the rail for the First Flight and will carry top weight of 117 pounds under Alan Garcia. She could face some pace pressure from Sunday Geisha. Sunday Geisha finished second to Indian Way, who set a track record, in the My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia Park last time out.
Completing the field are Porte Bonheur, second in the Vagrancy in her seasonal debut; Spritely, winner of the Sugar Maple Stakes at Charles Town; Iron Butterfly, a winner of three straight at Churchill Downs; and Turn Away, a second-level allowance winner last out.
Rachel, Borel are Saratoga bound
Rachel Alexandra arrived in New York on Tuesday and she won't be leaving the state anytime soon.
A day or two after she runs in Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose at Belmont Park, Rachel Alexandra will be vanned to Saratoga where she will do the bulk of her training this summer while her connections pick out a next race. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Thursday that it didn't make sense to ship Rachel Alexandra back to Churchill Downs because that meet ends next weekend and Asmussen will be sending horses up to Saratoga shortly thereafter as per usual.
Asmussen also noted that the cooler climate in Saratoga would be more beneficial to his filly than the warmer temperatures in Louisville.
"It's hot back home," he said.
For the second time in two years, Calvin Borel, Rachel Alexandra's regular rider, also will be summering in Saratoga. Not wanting to be too far away from the filly and with commitments to ride several horses for Kentucky-based trainers such as Ian Wilkes, Borel will ride the meet at the Spa. In 2007, Borel won only 9 races from 100 mounts at Saratoga, but those wins included the Jim Dandy and Travers aboard Street Sense, the Alabama aboard Lady Joanne, and the Sword Dancer aboard Grand Couturier.
Pick-four guarantees will continue
The New York Racing Association will continue to guarantee a $350,000 late pick-four pool on Saturdays for the remainder of the Belmont meet, despite having failed to reach the guarantee three times in eight weeks. Last week's pick-four pool was $257,050, the lowest since the opening Saturday - which was Kentucky Derby Day - when the pool was $213,273. On June 13, the late pick-four pool was $337,636, just missing the guarantee.
NYRA president Charlie Hayward noted that wet weather - which forced the Grade 2 New York Stakes to be taken off the turf last Saturday - may have had something to do with the smaller pool. Hayward noted that on June 13, NYRA's late pick four still outhandled the Churchill Downs all-stakes pick four ($299,882).
* Favored Nehantic Cat ($3.60) was tipped three wide turning for home by Rajiv Maragh, overtook pacesetter Absolute Heaven turning for home, then kicked clear late to win the $70,500 Sabellina Stakes by four lengths on Thursday. Absolute Heaven held off One in a Romp by a nose for second.
Nehantic Cat, a son of Tomorrows Cat trained by Barclay Tagg for Statehouse Stable, covered 1 1/16 miles over a yielding Widener Turf Course in 1:44.70.