Updated on 09/17/2011 10:15PM

A meet to remember

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Saint Liam, perhaps the top older horse in training, is looking to make two starts at Belmont this meet, starting with Saturay's Grade 1 Woodward Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Horse vans and moving trucks were scurrying around the back roads and entrances of these grounds Wednesday morning as the New York Racing Association prepares for Friday's opening of a most significant 38-day Belmont Park fall meeting.

On the track, all paths lead to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, which will be conducted here for a fourth time on Oct. 29. In the seven weeks preceding North America's richest day of racing, a long list of major stakes races will be conducted which should help define the likely favorites for the eight Breeders' Cup races.

That process begins Saturday with four Grade 1 events topped by the , featuring a rematch between Whitney winner Commentator and runner-up Saint Liam. Ghostzapper held off a stubborn Saint Liam to win the Woodward before winning last year's Breeders' Cup Classic. After a rash of injuries and retirements in the division, many consider Saint Liam the top older horse in training. The Woodward, in which Saint Liam will be ridden by Jerry Bailey for the first time, will be Saint Liam's final prep for the $4 million Classic.

Better Talk Now, last year's upset winner of the Breeders' Cup Turf, will continue his preparation for a defense of that title in Saturday's Grade 1 Man o' War in which he may face Angara, one of the top fillies and mares on turf.

The fact the Breeders' Cup is held here this year means many of the major out-of-town outfits who ship in for Saratoga, will stay in New York a little longer. It also means Europeans will ship in a lot more frequently as evidenced by the fact that at least four 3-year-old fillies have shipped in for Saturday's

Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup. The Gazelle, for 3-year-old fillies, also is on the card. Three more graded events are on tap Sunday, led by the Grade 1 Ruffian featuring Society Selection and Stellar Jayne.

Off the track, NYRA is expected to learn on Tuesday whether the federal government will drop charges pertaining to its role in facilitating tax fraud in its mutuel department. NYRA has been working under a deferred prosecution agreement since early 2004. Under the terms of the agreement, NYRA could avoid indictment on fraud charges if it paid a $3 million fine, reformed its business practices and was overseen by a federally appointed monitoring firm, Getnick and Getnick. A decision on the matter had been due last month, but was postponed.

The court's decision could go a long way in determining whether NYRA can be a player in bidding for a franchise renewal. NYRA's franchise to run Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga expires in 28 months.

In addition to the Breeders' Cup, a total of 46 stakes worth $11.7 million will be run at this meet. The most crucial day is Oct. 1 when Belmont hosts five Grade 1 races, including the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup. Flower Alley and Bellamy Road, the one-two finishers in the Travers, are expected to head that field. Borrego, the Pacific Classic winner, is due to arrive here next week to begin preparing for that race.

Juveniles will get two opportunities to prepare for the Breeders' Cup, with the Futurity on Sept. 17 and the Champagne on Oct. 8. The distances of those races have been cut to seven furlongs and a mile, respectively. Since 1994, the Futurity had been run at a mile, the Champagne at 1 1/16 miles. The same goes for the Matron and Frizette, the female counterparts to the Futurity and Champagne.

New York-breds will be in the spotlight on Oct. 22, when seven stakes totaling $1 million in purses will be conducted on New York Showcase Day.

New York-bred sprinters top Friday's opening day card as five will run in the $100,000 General Douglas MacArthur Handicap at seven furlongs. Yankee Mon, who won the Evan Shipman on closing day, wheels back just six days after running fourth in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga.

The horse to beat may be Clever Electrician, who won this race last year for trainer Bruce Levine. Clever Electrician disappointed Levine with his second-place performance in the John Morrissey Stakes last out at the Spa.

"He trained better than he ran," Levine said. "I'm hoping he gets back on track. I think [seven furlongs] is his best game."

General admission and general parking is free on Friday.

Belmont Fall Meet Highlights

DATERACEPURSE
Sept. 10Woodward (G1)$500,000
Sept. 10Man o' War (G1)500,000
Sept. 10Gazelle (G1)250,000
Sept. 10Garden City Breeders' Cup (G1)300,000
Sept. 11Ruffian (G1)300,000
Sept. 17Matron (G1)300,000
Sept. 17Futurity (G2)300,000
Oct. 1Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1)1,000,000
Oct. 1Flower Bowl Invitational (G1)750,000
Oct. 1Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1)750,000
Oct. 1Beldame (G1)750,000
Oct. 1Vosburgh (G1)500,000
Oct. 8Champagne (G1)500,000
Oct. 8Frizette (G1)500,000
Oct. 29Breeders' Cup Day