09/06/2007 11:00PM

Naughty New Yorker repeats opening-day feat


ELMONT, N.Y. - The electricity and large crowds were missing, but many things were just as they were during the Saratoga meet as Belmont Park kicked off its 33-day fall season Friday before a gathering of 4,386.

The weather, as it was in Saratoga Springs, was superb and Cornelio Velasquez, as he was at Saratoga, remained red-hot, winning four races on the nine-race card. One race he didn't win was the $108,800 General Douglas MacArthur Handicap, which was taken by Naughty New Yorker under Javier Castellano.

It was the second straight year that Naughty New Yorker won the MacArthur and second time he defeated an odds-on favorite. Last year, Naughty New Yorker defeated 1-2 shot West Virginia. Friday, Naughty New Yorker knocked off 3-5 shot Gold and Roses, who moved in tandem with Naughty New Yorker at the three-furlong pole. But at the three-sixteenths pole, Naughty New Yorker went on while Gold and Roses weakened under his 123-pound impost and finished fourth.

Shuffling Maddnes made a run at Naughty New Yorker in the stretch, but he could not get any closer than two lengths at the finish. Naughty New Yorker, who won for the 10th time from 37 starts, covered the mile in 1:34.26 and returned $9.60 to win.

"We got the old 'Naughty' back," winning trainer Pat Kelly said. "He was right there at the quarter pole in 1:09. He just dragged Javier up there; that's what he does when he's good. This mile seems to suit him better because he gets better fractions."

Velasquez, who won the Saratoga riding title on the strength of 15 multiple win days, went 4 for 9 on Friday's card, including a score on the D. Wayne Lukas first-time starter Silver Edition ($18.40) in the second.

Opening day was marred by a spill in the third race in which jockey Joe Bravo was injured and his mount, Find the Chestnut, was euthanized. Find the Chestnut sustained a broken right ankle in upper stretch of a New York-bred first-level allowance race. Bravo was hurled to the main track and was stepped on by at least one, and possibly two, trailing horses. He was taken to North Shore University Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fractured collarbone. Bravo, who was to remain hospitalized overnight, is expected to miss a minimum of three to four weeks, according to his agent, Drew Mollica

In July 2005, Bravo broke his collarbone and missed six weeks.