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Medallist out with quarter crack
ELMONT, N.Y. - Medallist, who figured to be the favorite in Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Jerome Handicap, wasn't entered because he suffered a quarter crack in his right front foot.
On Thursday, the day entries were taken for the Jerome, Medallist's trainer, Allen Jerkens, said, "It just popped, and we patched it."
On Tuesday, Medallist worked six furlongs in a sizzling 1:11.09 on the main track.
Jerkens said he doesn't anticipate the quarter crack to be a major setback for Medallist, who is expected to run again this year.
Medallist's biggest career victory came at Belmont in July in the Grade 2 Dwyer, which he won by 3 3/4 lengths in near-track-record time after setting scorching fractions. In the Dwyer, he earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 112. A son of Touch Gold, he also won the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct in May.
Medallist is coming off back-to-back losses at Saratoga - in the two-turn Jim Dandy and the Grade 1 King's Bishop. In the seven-furlong King's Bishop, Medallist finished seventh as the favorite after bearing out at the quarter pole. He also drifted out badly when winning the Withers.
Comacina tackles boys in Futurity
Trainer Patrick Biancone's best 2-year-old filly, Sense of Style, will head the field in Sunday's Grade 1, $300,000 Matron. His second-best 2-year-old filly, Comacina, will take on the boys the same day in the Grade 2 Futurity.
"Why not?" Biancone said when asked why he would run a filly against boys. "I think she's a good filly. I don't want to run her against my other filly. We'll just test the water with the colts. We got a good idea how she fits with fillies."
It took Comacina four tries to win her maiden, but she did it by eight lengths on Aug. 15 at Saratoga. It was her first start with blinkers.
"The blinkers make all the difference," Biancone said. "It's a Grade 2. If we finish in the top three, we'll be happy."
Biancone decided against wheeling Scipion back in the Futurity after he finished third in the Cradle Stakes at River Downs on Sept. 6. Biancone said Scipion will be aimed at the Champagne here or Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland. Both of those races are on Oct. 9.
Fusaichi Rock Star will likely be favored in the Futurity. The Bob Baffert trainee won his maiden at Del Mar on Aug. 7 by three-quarters of a length after finishing third in his debut. Fusaichi Rock Star arrived at Belmont on a cross-country flight on Thursday.
Others pointing to the Futurity are Evil Minister, Park Avenue Ball, Upscaled, and Wallstreet Scandal. Belarion is possible.
Undefeated Balletto in stakes debut
Balletto worked six furlongs in 1:15.02 on Thursday over the main track in preparation for Sunday's Matron.
Balletto, who is undefeated in two starts, makes her stakes debut in the one-mile Matron.
A Darley Stable homebred, Balletto won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race at Belmont in July and a 6 1/2-furlong allowance race at Saratoga on Aug. 2.
Tom Albertrani, Balletto's trainer, said he anticipates the filly will appreciate stretching out in the Matron. In her first start, Balletto came from off the pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths. In her second start, she raced closer to the pace and won by less than a length.
"She is a filly that doesn't have a lot of speed," Albertrani said. "In her last start, John [Velazquez] got a little worried about the lack of speed and got her into the race. When you ask her, she has a great turn of foot, and that's a great asset. That will benefit her the longer she goes."
The other expected starters in the Matron are Darn That Girl, Graceful Nancy, Play With Fire, Sense of Style, and Summer Raven.
Sense of Style, a 6 3/4-length winner of the Grade 1 Spinaway, will be the heavy favorite.
Speightstown to Vosburgh
Speightstown, arguably the top six-furlong horse in the country, will make his next start in the Grade 1 Vosburgh here on Oct. 2, trainer Todd Pletcher confirmed on Thursday.
Speightstown, a 6-year-old son of Gone West owned by Eugene and Laura Melnyk, has won all four of his starts this year, including the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap in his last start on Aug. 14. His other wins this year came in the True North here on June 5, the Churchill Downs Handicap on May 1, and the Artax at Gulfstream on March 27.
Pletcher said the decision to run Speightstown in the Vosburgh gives the horse two opportunities to win a Grade 1 race, something he has yet to accomplish. The Vosburgh will be Speightstown's prep for the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint.
"It's over a track he trains on and that he runs well on," said Pletcher, noting that Speightstown is 2 for 3 at Belmont. "We know he's really in good form and we think the best way to keep him in good form is to run him again before the Breeders' Cup."
Pletcher said he has not made a decision on where Strong Hope would make his next start. Strong Hope, also owned by the Melnyks, finished fourth in the Forego on Sept. 4.
Ballerina rematch in Gallant Bloom
Lady Tak and Harmony Lodge, the first- and third-place finishers in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga on Aug. 29, will square off again in the Grade 2, $150,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap here on Oct. 10.
Lady Tak accomplished her connections' major goal for her this year when she won Ballerina. Lady Tak has been based at Belmont since the Saratoga meet ended. Last year at 3, Lady Tak suffered narrow losses in both the Acorn and Gazelle, a pair of Grade 1 races run here.
"She's run some great races at Belmont," said Scott Blasi, the New York-based assistant for trainer Steve Asmussen. "She's a head and a [half-length] away from two Grade 1 wins going a mile and a mile and an eighth here. She's run very well on this racetrack."
On Tuesday, Lady Tak breezed five furlongs in 1:02.63 over Belmont's training track.
Harmony Lodge won last year's Gallant Bloom following a nose victory in the Grade 1 Ballerina. Harmony Lodge was bumped in the stretch and beaten two heads by Lady Tak in the Ballerina.
Frankel loses one, gains one
Frankel lost one 3-year-old filly to injury, but gained a potentially better one this week.
Frankel said Reforest, who dead-heated for the win in the Pennsylvania Oaks at Philadelphia Park on Labor Day, would have surgery to remove a chip out of a knee.
Meanwhile, Frankel welcomed Barancella to his barn following her second-place finish in Sunday's Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap. Gary Tanaka owns Barancella, a French-bred daughter of Acatenango. Freddie Head had trained her for the Garden City.
Frankel said Barancella would most likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland on Oct. 16.
- additional reporting by David Grening