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Footing key to whether Angara runs
ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Patrick Biancone doesn't know whether to pray for rain this weekend or hope the warm, dry conditions remain intact. Biancone has two fillies to run in a pair of Grade 1 turf stakes this weekend at Belmont Park, each of whom has shown a preference for a particular type of ground.
Angara, who is nominated to Saturday's $500,000 Man o' War against males, would prefer turf with some give in it. Asi Siempre, who is being pointed to Saturday's $300,000 Garden City Breeders' Cup for 3-year-old fillies, likes it firm.
It has not rained around here for more than a week, and no moisture is in the forecast for the weekend. Biancone will monitor the Belmont Park turf courses before deciding whether to run Angara or wait for another day. Biancone said Wednesday from Saratoga that he would definitely enter Angara in the Man o' War.
"We'll enter her and we'll see later," Biancone said. "She is going to be 50-50. We'll see how the track is and we'll decide. She's well, she's in great form - why wait?"
Angara is coming off a narrow victory in the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington Park last month over a yielding course. The victory, which came against the likes of Megahertz, Melhor Ainda, and Wonder Again, established Angara as one of the leading contenders for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Before the Beverly D., Angara finished third in the Diana and fifth in the Manhattan. She was beaten by only 1 3/4 lengths in the Manhattan, against males, on a firm Belmont inner turf.
Biancone said he would watch the turf races run here Friday and talk to jockey Gary Stevens, who is scheduled to ride one horse for Biancone on Friday, before deciding whether to ship Angara from Saratoga on Saturday morning.
If Angara runs, she would face the defending Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Better Talk Now, and his pacesetting stablemate, Shake the Bank; King's Drama and Relaxed Gesture, the one-two finishers from the Sword Dancer; and Dreadnaught, Silverfoot, Stage Call, Rousing Victory, and possibly Westmoreland Road.
Asi Siempre is one of four European shippers scheduled to run in Saturday's $300,000 Garden City at nine furlongs on turf.
Asi Siempre, a daughter of El Prado, was recently purchased privately by Martin Schwartz and transferred to Biancone. She had raced in France for trainer Carlos Laffon- Parias. Asi Siempre has won 2 of 6 starts, including a listed stakes that produced two next-out winners.
Asi Siempre arrived in the United States on Sept. 1, and on Wednesday she breezed four furlongs in 46.81 seconds over a firm Saratoga training turf course.
Biancone said Laffon-Parrias "sent her to me in great condition."
She just had a little blowout this morning and she did really well," he said. "I know [Schwartz] bought her for a good amount of money. We hope she's going to be as good as that. I like her very much, to be honest with you."
Other Europeans expected to run include Cassydora, second in the Group 1 Nassau Stakes in England; Croisiere, a minor stakes winner in Germany; and Luas Line, who has won two stakes in Ireland after shipping to America in July, when she finished fourth in the American Oaks at Hollywood Park. The main North American-based hope is My Typhoon. Victory Lap is possible.
Woodward: Alumni Hall out
The Woodward will feature a rematch between the Whitney's one-two finishers, Commentator and Saint Liam, but won't have much else. Richard Dutrow Jr., the trainer of Saint Liam, plans to run Crafty Player as a pacemaker, or rabbit, to keep Commentator from getting loose on the lead.
The only other horse likely to run in the Woodward is Shaniko, though trainer Todd Pletcher had been pointing him to the $350,000 Kentucky Cup Classic on Sept. 17 at Turfway Park. Shaniko, a son of A.P. Indy, is coming off an 11-length win in a third-level allowance race at Saratoga on Aug. 8.
"He's a horse that's always shown flashes of talent," Pletcher said. "He seems to do well with time between races. He seems to be in pretty good form at the moment.''
Alumni Hall, who won a classified allowance race at Saratoga by 7 1/4 lengths on Aug. 26, will skip the Woodward to point for either the Jockey Club Gold Cup here on Oct. 1 or The Meadowlands Cup on Oct. 7.
"Right now it's a little quick back," trainer Neil Howard said of the Woodward. "It looks like there's too much doubt running against those two top horses in a Grade 1. We're pretty sure we're going to pass it."
Gazelle: Leave Me Alone stretches out
Leave Me Alone, who shipped from Southern California to win the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga by an emphatic 7 3/4 lengths, has returned to New York and will head a small field in Saturday's $250,000 Gazelle. The Gazelle, run at nine furlongs, will be the farthest Leave Me Alone has run.
Leave Me Alone, a California-bred daughter of Bold Badgett, did win the restricted Melair Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race run in April at Hollywood Park. Before the Test, she won the Grade 3 Azalea Breeders' Cup going six furlongs at Calder in July.
Leave Me Alone will face another California shipper in Dancing Edie, who returns to dirt after running third in the Del Mar Oaks on turf. Trainer Craig Dollase said he is taking the blinkers off of Dancing Edie, who arrived here a few days ago.
Others pointing to the Gazelle are In the Gold, who finished third in the Test and was second in the Kentucky Oaks; Seeking the Ante, who won the Nassau County here in May; and Yolanda B. Too, who won two races at Saratoga.
Indian Vale points to Cotillion
Indian Vale was nominated to Saturday's Gazelle, but won't be running. Last Sunday, Indian Vale won a second-level allowance race at Saratoga by 10 3/4 lengths. She ran nine furlongs in 1:51.29 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said Indian Vale would be pointed to the $300,000 Cotillion Stakes at Philadelphia Park on Oct. 1. Pletcher chose last weekend's allowance over the Gazelle because he felt it was too much too soon for a filly who didn't debut until July 2. Pletcher also likes how well Indian Vale has run her pair of two-turn races. The Gazelle is run around one turn.
The development of Indian Vale is particularly gratifying to Pletcher, because he trained the filly's dam, Marley Vale, who won the Grade 1 Test.
"It's nice to get one out of her that looks like she's got some ability," Pletcher said. "Being an A.P. Indy, I believe she'll improve as she gets older."
New pole is not finish line
Fans at Belmont will notice a new three-tiered white pole at the finish line of Belmont's dirt track. While the pole is inscribed "Finish," it is not the actual finish line. The finish line is about a foot behind the pole on a mirror.
"The finish line, if you will, is the mirror," said John Passero, the track superintendent, who came up with the idea for the new pole. "It's a line superimposed on the mirror."
Passero came up with the idea for the new pole in the spring and presented it to the New York Racing Association's president, Charles Hayward, who approved it. The pole, similar to some at other tracks around the country, was ready during the spring-summer meet, but NYRA officials elected to wait to use it until this meet.
"I thought it added a bit of class to the whole place, that was mainly the thought," Passero said. "I said why don't we do something real nice. Churchill, all the big tracks have really nice finish-line markers. We designed that one to suit Belmont because of the mammoth size of the track."
At a glance: Belmont Park
RACING SCHEDULE: 38 days; Friday through Oct. 30; dark Mondays and Tuesdays, except Monday, Oct. 10 (Columbus Day). Dark Thursday, Oct. 13 (Yom Kippur)
POST TIME: 1 p.m. Eastern, except Breeders' Cup Day (Oct. 29) when it's noon, and closing day (Oct. 30) when it's 12:30 p.m.
ADMISSIONS: General, $2; clubhouse, $5. Breeders' Cup Day: General, $10; clubhouse, $25. Children 12 and under admitted free when accompanied by adult.
PARKING: General, $2; preferred, $4; valet $6. Breeders' Cup Day: General, $10; preferred, $25; no valet
PROMOTIONS: T-Shirt Day (Oct. 1), Baseball Cap Day (Oct. 22)
LOCATION: 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont, N.Y.; exit 26D off Cross Island Parkway
PHONE: (516) 488-6000
2005 Fall Schedule
|Fri.,Sept. 9||Gen. Douglas MacArthur HCP*||3YO & Up||7 furlongs||$100,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 10||The Woodward (G1||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles||500,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 10||Man o' War (G1)||3YO & Up||1 3/8 miles (T)||500,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 10||Gazelle (G1)||3YO F||1 1/8 miles||250,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 10||Garden City Breeders' Cup (G1)||3YO F||1 1/8 miles (T)||300,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 11||Ruffian HANDICAP (G1)||3YO & Up, F&M||1 1/16 miles||300,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 11||Jerome HANDICAP (G2)||3YO||1 mile||150,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 11||Belmont B.C. HANDICAP (G2)||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles (T)||200,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 17||Matron (G1)||2YO F||7 furlongs||300,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 17||Futurity (G2)||2YO||7 furlongs||300,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 17||Floral Park HANDICAP (G3)||3YO & Up, F&M||6 furlongs||100,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 18||Ashley T. Cole HANDICAP*||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles (T)||100,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 18||Schenectady HANDICAP*||3YO & Up, F&M||6 furlongs||100,000|
|Sat.,Sept. 24||Noble Damsel HANDICAP (G3)||3YO & Up, F&M||1 mile (T)||150,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 25||Bertram F. Bongard*||2YO||7 furlongs||100,000|
|Sun.,Sept. 25||Joseph A. Gimma*||2YO F||7 furlongs||100,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 1||The Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1)||3YO & Up||1 1/4 miles||1,000,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 1||Flower Bowl Invitational (G1)||3YO & Up, F&M||1 1/4 miles (T)||750,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 1||Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invt'l (G1)||3YO & Up||1 1/2 miles (T)||750,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 1||Beldame (G1)||3YO & Up, F&M||1 1/8 miles||750,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 1||Vosburgh (G1)||3YO & Up||6 furlongs||500,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 2||Kelso B.C. HANDICAP (G2)||3YO & Up||1 mile (T)||350,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 2||Astarita (G3)||2YO F||6 1/2 furlongs||100,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 2||Cowdin||2YO||6 1/2 furlongs||75,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 8||Champagne (G1)||2YO||1 mile||500,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 8||Frizette (G1)||2YO F||1 mile||500,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 8||Jamaica HANDICAP (G2)||3YO||1 1/8 miles (T)||300,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 9||Gallant Bloom HANDICAP (G2)||3YO & Up, F&M||6 1/2 furlongs||150,000|
|Mon.,Oct. 10||Pebbles||3YO F||1 mile (T)||100,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 15||Athenia HANDICAP (G3)||3YO & Up, F&M||1 1/16 miles (T)||100,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 16||Lawrence Realization||3YO||1 1/2 miles (T)||75,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Sleepy Hollow*||2YO||1 mile||100,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Iroquois HANDICAP*||3YO & Up, F&M||7 furlongs||125,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Mohawk HANDICAP*||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles (T)||150,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Maid of the Mist*||2YO F||1 mile||100,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Hudson HANDICAP*||3YO & Up6||furlongs||125,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Ticonderoga HANDICAP*||3YO & Up, F&M||1 1/8 miles (T)||150,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 22||Empire Classic HANDICAP*||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles||250,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 23||Pilgrim||2YO||1 1/8 miles (T)||75,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 23||Miss Grillo||2YO F||1 1/8 miles (T)||75,000|
|Fri.,Oct. 28||Knickerbocker (G3)||3YO & Up||1 1/8 miles (T)||150,000|
|Fri.,Oct. 28||Nashua (G3)||2YO||1 mile||100,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 29||Breeders' Cup Day|
|Sat.,Oct. 29||Sport Page (G3)||3YO & Up||7 furlongs||250,000|
|Sat.,Oct. 29||Discovery (G3)||3YO||1 1/16 miles||250,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 30||First Flight (G2)||3YO & Up, F&M||7 furlongs||150,000|
|Sun.,Oct. 30||Tempted (G3)||2YO F||1 mile||100,000|