Updated on 09/16/2011 7:27AM

Malabar Gold: Fast and relaxed


ELMONT, N.Y. - Though trainer Ron Ellis was impressed with the way Malabar Gold relaxed winning his last start, it may be his brilliant speed that serves Malabar Gold best in Monday's $100,000 Jaipur Handicap at Belmont Park.

The Jaipur, a Grade 3 race run at seven furlongs on turf, tops the undercard action on Monday's 10-race Metropolitan Handicap card. Also Monday, all patrons will receive a Seattle Slew T-shirt commemorating the 25th anniversary of his Triple Crown, with paid admission while supplies last.

Malabar Gold has won 5 of 7 turf starts including the Grade 3 San Simeon Handicap at Santa Anita last time out. In that race, Malabar Gold stalked Astonished, who set fractions of 21.58 and 42.96 seconds. Astonished returned to win an allowance race on May 17. Ellis goes back to the F.E. Kilroe Handicap as a key race in Malabar Gold's development. Though he finished fifth - the mile may have been too far for him - Malabar Gold set a relaxed pace on the front end.

"The mile race taught him to relax," Ellis said. "In the past, if there was a horse in front of him, he pulled hard to try and get in front of the other horse."

Malabar Gold, the co-highweight at 121 pounds, looks like he could control the pace if he wanted to under Chris McCarron from post 7.

His stiffest challenge figures to come from Shibboleth, a 5-year-old son of Danzig who is 4 for 4 at seven furlongs. Trainer Bobby Frankel tried Shibboleth on the dirt in last month's Grade 1 Carter Handicap, but the horse never got involved after stumbling at the start and finished last. Before that, Shibboleth got away slowly while finishing second in a mile allowance race at Santa Anita.

While racing for Henry Cecil in Europe, Shibboleth finished 1 1/4 lengths behind Giant's Causeway in a mile stakes at Royal Ascot and won the Group 3 Criterion Stakes going seven furlongs at Newmarket. He figures to track Malabar Gold under Jerry Bailey from post 8.

Christophe Clement sends out the filly Ing Ing against the boys in the Jaipur. While racing in Europe for Nicolas Clement, Christophe's brother, Ing Ing beat the boys twice, including in the Group 3 Prix Quincey at Deauville.

In her most recent start, Ing Ing won an allowance race at Gulfstream defeating Stylish, who came back to win the Citgo Distaff Turf Mile at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Ing Ing gets in with 112 pounds and will be ridden by Jean-Luc Samyn.

Cozzy Corner, Capsized, French Envoy, Watchman's Warning, and Grangeville round out the field on turf. Peeping Tom was entered as a main-track only.

Penny Marie: Turf or dirt?

The stakes-winning mare Penny Marie is among the handful of horses trainer Bob Hess Jr. sent to New York from California. Hess is torn between running Penny Marie in the Just a Game at a mile on turf on Belmont Stakes Day (June 8) or the Vagrancy at 6 1/2 furlongs on dirt the following day. There are pros and cons to both races.

Hess said Penny Marie would run in the Just a Game "if the turf is firm. I think she's a little better on turf, but the mile bothers me a bit," Hess added. "I love the 6 1/2, but I'm not too eager to run against Xtra Heat."

Xtra Heat, the 3-year-old filly champion and recent winner of the Genuine Risk, is expected to make her next start in the Vagrancy.

Penny Marie, a daughter of Sky Classic, is 7 for 16 lifetime with ungraded stakes victories on both turf and dirt. Most recently, she finished sixth as the 8-5 favorite in the Mamzelle Stakes run over yielding turf on May 2 at Churchill.

* Imperial Gesture, pointing for the Grade 1 Acorn on June 7, breezed five furlongs in a leisurely 1:04.02 Saturday morning at Belmont.