05/31/2009 11:00PM

Mother Russia, Minnie Punt take stallion stakes


ELMONT, N.Y. - Mother Russia handled the turf and Minnie Punt handled the rise in class as both captured divisions of the $75,000 New York Stallion Stakes on Sunday at Belmont Park.

In the Cupecoy's Joy division, for 3-year-old fillies, Mother Russia was tipped three-wide by Ramon Dominguez in upper stretch, rallied past Jet's Tradition in midstretch, and easily held off the late charge from Wild Awake to win by two lengths. Wild Awake got second by a neck over Jet's Tradition.

Mother Russia, a daughter of Mayakovsky, has won for the fourth time in six starts, but this was her first start on turf. She covered the seven furlongs in 1:23.86 over good turf and returned $4.50 as the favorite.

"I always had an inkling that she would move up on turf," Rice said. "It's nice to be right."

In the Spectacular Bid division, for 3-year-old colts and geldings, Minnie Punt rallied from off the pace under John Velazquez, split horses in the stretch, and drew clear to win by 2 1/4 lengths over Uncle T Seven, the 2-1 favorite. It was a head back to Strong Impact in third. Minnie Punt covered the seven furlongs in 1:22.62 and returned $58.50.

Minnie Punt, owned by Marjac Pino Stable and Vincent Bommarito and trained by Mike Miceli, was stepping up in class from a New York-bred maiden $35,000 claming victory on April 18, but is now 2 for 2 on turf.

"The first time we ran him, we tried him on dirt and he didn't run at all," Miceli said. "So, we figured to take a shot on turf and he won. Some of the horses he beat came back to win, so he faced a pretty decent bunch of maidens."