10/19/2010 3:06PM

Laureate Conductor looks to end long skid

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Jessica Denver/Equi-Photo
Laureate Conductor will look to end a nine-race losing streak in Thursday's feature at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – It may be sound counsel to avoid banking too heavily on the favorite in Thursday’s featured seventh race. The $56,000 optional claimer is scheduled for the inner turf course at 1 1/8 miles, and the eight entrants are a collective 2 for 14 as the post-time choice since last fall.

Five of those chalky defeats belong to Laureate Conductor, who looked to be on his way as a 3-year-old last summer after winning the Choice Stakes and running third in the Grade 1 Secretariat for Christophe Clement.

Laureate Conductor has lost nine in a row all told. Even so, he cuts back after leading to the final strides going 10 furlongs, and his back form includes a big maiden win on soft turf. He is the second choice on the morning line at 5-2 and may vie for favoritism with Lemon Spice.

Lemon Spice rallied wide and missed in a photo as the choice first time out at the meet for Chad Brown; he is among four entered for the $50,000 claim price, along with Lemon Cream Pie, Lime Rickey, and Pleasant Strike.

Pleasant Strike, a 6-year-old Ned Evans homebred trained by Todd Pletcher, has a history of running well on rain-softened turf, notably a nose defeat in the Grade 3 Cliff Hanger Stakes on yielding ground last fall and a sharp score in a $75,000 optional claimer on good turf at Saratoga two starts back.

Cause of Freedom and Indy Scent are the lone entrants that have gotten the job done for John Q. Public over the past year, each winning maiden races at Tampa Bay Downs.

Cause of Freedom came from next-to-last to get through his first-level allowance condition at Saratoga for Shug McGaughey and has been freshened up for his first try at this level.

Indy Scent, the lone 3-year-old, was claimed by Leah Gyarmati at Saratoga for $25,000, which seems like a fair price for a colt by A.P. Indy and out of champion mare Escena.

“He’s probably the best-bred horse I’ll ever train,” agreed Gyarmati. “He was certainly worth the money, but these races don’t come up too easy. He’s a big horse, and last time [against Laureate Conductor] he was inside and never had a chance to get going.

“I’d love to try him on dirt, eventually.”