08/10/2006 11:00PM

Immigration growing on Belvoir


AUBURN, Wash. - Trainer Howard Belvoir said he has revised his opinion of Immigration, who seems certain to be favored in Sunday's 6 1/2-furlong Strong Ruler Stakes for 2-year-olds.

Belvoir had previously compared Immigration to Courting Seattle, whose bulldog tenacity has earned a stakes win and four stakes placings over the past 12 months. He now thinks the undefeated Immigration might be more like Sundance Circle, whose three straight wins as a 2-year-old included a 10 1/2-length score in the 2003 Strong Ruler Stakes. That is high praise for Immigration, because Belvoir feels Sundance Circle was the most talented 2-year-old he has ever trained.

"He is taking on more of the look that Sundance Circle had, and he has the same kind of attitude," said the trainer. "There is something cocky about him, like he knows he is pretty special."

Immigration, a well-behaved son of Delineator, has been very special through his first two starts. He won his debut in ultra-game fashion with 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:04.60, then returned to take the six-furlong Emerald Express Stakes by an authoritative four lengths in 1:09.80.

"He took a nice step forward in the Emerald Express, and I'm hoping he'll take another step forward on Sunday," said Belvoir. "He is more impressive every day. He is a sensible colt, especially for a Delineator, he has a ton of talent, and I don't think he'll be limited by distance.

"The key will be keeping him sound and healthy from here on out. If I can do that, we could have a lot of fun with him."

Injury ends Diamond Dollars's career

Federal Way Handicap winner Diamond Dollars suffered a career-ending injury in a workout late last month, trainer Bill Tollett said. Diamond Dollars, a 3-year-old daughter of Stravinsky, sustained a spiral fracture of her right front cannon bone from her ankle to her knee.

"They operated on her at Washington State University, and they put in a plate and 12 pins to hold the bone together," said Tollett. "The X-rays look a lot like the ones we all saw of Barbaro's injury, and she faces the same kinds of risks. The danger of infection is pretty much past, but now she is trying to founder. They are doing all they can to save her."

Tollett claimed Diamond Dollars for Ron Whited's K J Star Stable out of a $12,500 maiden race at Sunland Park on April 8. She then won three straight races at this track, from six furlongs to a mile, by a combined 18 1/4 lengths. She faltered to finish eighth in the one-mile Irish Day Handicap on June 25, but rebounded with a strong second against older allowance rivals in her final start on July 15. She earned $46,439 from three wins, a second, and a third in seven career starts.

Tollett has two for Mile Day

Not all of the news at the Tollett barn was bad, as the trainer reported that stakes runners Grafton and Bardy Woman have arrived to prepare for engagements here on Longacres Mile Day, Aug. 20.

Both Grafton, a 6-year-old son of Rahy, and Bardy Woman, a 5-year-old daughter of Unusual Heat, were claimed in Southern California by owner Tom Tollen. Grafton was claimed out of a win against $50,000 claimers at Hollywood on June 30, then ran a close third to $80,000 claimers at Del Mar on July 24 before shipping here. All of his previous 24 starts had come on turf, but Grafton passed his dirt test with a half-mile work in a bullet 48.40 on Wednesday morning.

"He picked it up really nicely down the lane, and that was good to see," said Tollett. "As far as I could tell, that was the first time he had ever worked on dirt, and if he wasn't able to handle it I would have had to send him back down south. As it stands, we'll point him toward the Longacres Mile."

Bardy Woman was claimed out of a second-place effort against $62,500 optional claimers at Del Mar on Aug. 2. Though she did not collect her maiden win until January at Bay Meadows, she has since posted sharp wins over starter allowance, allowance, and optional claiming company, and was beaten less than 10 lengths when trying Grade 1 company in Hollywood's Vanity Handicap on July 2.

Tollett said Bardy Woman will run in the $100,000 Emerald Breeders' Cup Distaff at a mile on the Longacres Mile undercard.

Starbird Road to take a shot

Trainer Sharon Ross said that she and owner Rick Beal have decided to send out Governor's Handicap winner Starbird Road in the Longacres Mile.

"We're going," Ross said. "Rick left the decision to me, and I think he deserves a shot. Longacres Mile horses don't come around very often, so you have to take your opportunities when you have them. I think Starbird Road is a legitimate Mile horse."

Summer catalog has 215 yearlings

Catalogs are now available for the WTBA summer yearling sale, which will be held Sept. 5 in the M.J. Alhadeff Sales Pavilion at Emerald Downs. A total of 215 yearlings have been cataloged, including yearlings by such nationally prominent sires as Carson City, Holy Bull, Maria's Mon, Monarchos, Point Given, and Smoke Glacken.