07/23/2009 11:00PM

Martin looks to cap big meet


ELMONT, N.Y. - While most are looking forward to Wednesday's opening of the Saratoga season, trainer Carlos Martin and owner Carl Lizza will be sad to see the Belmont Park spring/summer season come to a close Sunday.

Martin has enjoyed a stellar meet with 17 wins - good enough for sixth in the standings - while Lizza's Flying Zee Stables has a meet-leading 14 victories. Martin and Flying Zee will try to close the meet on a winning note when they send out Sax in the City in a $44,000 first-level New York-bred turf allowance at 1 1/16 miles, Belmont's closing-day feature.

In addition to his 17 wins, Martin has 11 seconds and 10 thirds from 66 starters. Sax in the City is responsible for one of those seconds, beaten a head in this condition May 24, her first start off a six-month layoff. She came back June 28 and finished fifth, beaten 5 1/2 lengths in this same condition. The horse has shown a tendency to run well, regress, then come back and run well.

It happened last summer when she got beat a neck, finished fourth, and then came back to win a $35,000 claimer.

Martin said his two primary concerns are the lack of speed in the race and the possibility of soft turf, which might force him to scratch the filly from the race.

"I wanted to initially see her be taken back and make one run, but I don't think it's going to happen because there's not a lot of speed," Martin said. "Hopefully, she'll kick on a little better than she did last time."

Another trainer enjoying a superb meet has been Tom Bush, who sends out Lemon Punch for her first start against New York-bred competition. Lemon Punch was bred by Gallaghers Stud - major clients of Bush - but was purchased at auction by Ron Praz and Michael Dye who raced her in Southern California, where she went 1 for 10.

In her last race, at nine furlongs, Lemon Punch made the lead in midstretch but faded to fifth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths.

"She just looked liked she kind of got [tired] right at the end," said Bush, who has 15 wins at the meet. "Maybe she doesn't want to go that far, but that pedigree suggests she's supposed to go that far."

Earlier this meet, Bush won a race with Marula, a half-sister to Lemon Punch.

Ms. Stilleto stretches out off a maiden victory on the turf at seven furlongs and picks up the services of Ramon Dominguez.