07/08/2011 3:25PM

Minor throat surgery may help Belle Watling regain form

Bill Denver/EQUI-PHOTO
After outrunning his odds in the United Nations, the 8-year-old General Perfect may get more opportunities in long-distance graded stakes.

OCEANPORT, N.J. – Belle Watling arrived from Chile with a glittering reputation

She hasn’t lived up to the advanced hype, going winless in five races in the U.S. this year in the care of Patrick Biancone.

Following a disappointing ninth last weekend in the 1 3/8-mile, Grade 1 United Nations Stakes with Edgar Prado aboard, Belle Watling underwent a myectomy on Wednesday, a relatively minor procedure to improve air flow.

“She just did not run,” Biancone said. “The jockey said she choked. It should help her.”

After a few days off, Belle Watling, a 5-year-old, will head back to the racetrack and Biancone will start looking for another race.

It is doubtful that she will run again here this meet. Most of the remaining stakes, on both turf and dirt, are too short for the distance-loving mare.

General Perfect appears to relish long distances

In contrast, General Perfect was a pleasant surprise in the U.N.

The 72-1 shot outran his odds, rallying from last to be fifth. It was only the second time in 43 career starts that the 8-year-old General Perfect had run beyond six furlongs. A Grade 1 stakes seemed like an ambitious leap for a horse who had spent much of his career running against New Jersey-breds and claimers.

It didn’t look so impulsive after the fact.

But then, trainer Glenn Thompson rarely shies away from taking a swing.

“I always thought he could go long,” said Thompson, who gallops General Perfect. “It was just a matter of timing and the timing was right after he won that last race.”

The victory was a last to first score in the John McSorley, the second straight year General Perfect captured the 5 1/2 furlong stakes.

“The owner had some money in the bank after that win, so we could take a shot at a different race,” Thompson said. “I was a coming out party for him, I hope. I ride him every morning and a couple of times he’s run off with me for a mile and a half. One time he did it and I kicked him. He rebroke again and took off, so I knew he’d go long.”

And now Thompson has set his sights even higher.

“Instead of looking at races for $65,000 and $100,000, you look at races for a half-million. It’s a whole different ballgame. And going long is better on their career. The five-eighths mile races are harder as they get older.”

Thompson has pulled out the stakes calendar and is looking at races such as the Oceanport Stakes at Monmouth on July 31, followed by the Sword Dancer at Saratoga or the Arlington Million.

Picnic for backstretch workers

The 20th annual Backstretch Appreciation Day Picnic will be held Monday, rain or shine. The picnic is open to all backstretch workers and their families.

Dan Perlsweig, the retired trainer who started the picnic as a way to recognize the considerable efforts of backstretch workers, will sound the kick off at noon.

There will be games, prizes, and drawings throughout the afternoon for kids and adults, along with food and drinks.

◗ Joe Bravo was fined $2,000 for careless riding aboard Motovato, the fourth-place finisher in the Salvator Mile last weekend.

◗ Trainer Tim Kelly has requested a stay of a 45-day suspension with the New Jersey Racing Commission for an anabolic steroid positive in Wild Doone in a June 5 race.

◗ Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms has teamed with Monmouth Park to sponsor the Grade 2, $250,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes on Aug. 28. The first three finishers receive stallion seasons from either Roman Ruler, Midnight Lute, or Zensational.