Updated on 09/15/2011 2:03PM

Racetrackers get back to work at Belmont


ELMONT, N.Y. - It was business as usual at Belmont Park when it reopened Wednesday for the first time since Sept. 9, two days before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.

Wednesday's card was conducted under sunny skies and drew a crowd of 5,436, up from last year's attendance of 4,133 on the corresponding day. Belmont's ontrack handle was $1,188,486, compared with $819,380 wagered last year.

The prevailing mood among those in the racing community was that it felt good to get back to work. A moment of silence was observed in the winner's circle at 12:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the first race. At least 100 people gathered in the winner's circle, including New York Racing Association employees and members of the jockey colony. After bugler Sam Grossman played "America the Beautiful," there was two minutes of silence, until track announcer Tom Durkin said, "God bless America, thank you."

There was a subdued attitude among the riders, but a definite sense they were ready to resume work. Jockey Richard Migliore said he had a personal connection to the attacks; his wife, Carmela, lost a cousin, who was working in the World Trade Center. Migliore said that while the tragedy is weighing heavy on his mind, he was anxious to get back in the saddle. "This is what we do and we need to get back to it and do it the best we can," Migliore said before riding in the opener.

Jockey Jerry Bailey felt the same way. "My feelings are all over the place," Bailey said. "At the moment it's tough thinking about winning a race, but without riding I'm kind of lost and out of my routine."

The fans also were happy to fall back into a routine. "I've been at home watching TV for days," said Charlie Ganz from Brooklyn. "I understood why racing was canceled, but I'm happy to be back."

NYRA beefed up its security with additional plain-clothed and uniformed people, and searched the building before opening the admission gates. Coolers were not permitted in the building, but were allowed in the back-yard area after being inspected. John Tierney, NYRA's director of security, said he will meet with local law enforcement agencies next week to discuss security for the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont on Oct. 27.

Does Peeping Tom still have it?

Whether Peeping Tom's 15 minutes of fame have run out or whether he's ready to write another chapter in his Cinderella story will be determined Saturday when the 4-year-old gelding returns to action in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Park.

Claimed for $40,000 in March 2000, Peeping Tom got good last September and maintained his form through May. During that span, he won six races, three of which were stakes, including the Grade 1 Carter Handicap. After finishing second in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, Peeping Tom finished last as the even-money favorite in the Tom Fool on July 4.

"He was mentally worn out; he really didn't try," trainer Pat Reynolds said.

Reynolds decided to turn out Peeping Tom for the summer, and didn't return him to training until midway through the Saratoga meet. Although Reynolds has been pleased with the way Peeping Tom has trained, he notes the horse is hard to read because he doesn't put out much effort in the morning.

"The ones that don't give it to you in the mornings are hard to read," Reynolds said. "If he was an easy read we never would have been able to get him because they never would have run him so cheap. We're expecting him to fire. He got good this time last year."

Reynolds is hoping for a solid effort because he would like to use the Vosburgh as a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Sprint on Oct. 27.

"If he's running hard through the lane and he gets up, or if he's second, we'll be there Oct. 27," Reynolds said.

The Vosburgh is coming up a tough race, with the likes of Squirtle Squirt, Left Bank, Say Florida Sandy, Alannan, and Yonaguska expected to run. Elite Mercedes is a possibility.

Pentatonic upsets Secret Status

Pentatonic, away from the races since March, knocked off 3-5 favorite Secret Status in a classified allowance race on Wednesday that may have had Breeders' Cup implications.

Both Pentatonic and Secret Status were entered in last Saturday's Grade 1 Ruffian Handicap, which was lost when Belmont canceled weekend racing due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Pentatonic, unraced since a fourth-place finish in the Next Move Handicap, rallied four wide in the stretch and won by two lengths. Secret Status was blocked turning for home, but lacked the necessary punch when she found room.

"She ran okay, not great," said Neil Howard, trainer of Secret Status. "I'm going to make my suggestion that we go on, take a shot, and run in the Beldame. I want to see what [owner Will Farish] thinks first."

Meanwhile, trainer Richard Schosberg said he may point Pentatonic, a 6-year-old New York-bred, to the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff. Schosberg pointed out that Pentatonic, who won a pair of Grade 3 races in the winter, has beaten Pompeii and Serra Lake, both Grade 1 winners this summer at Saratoga.

"She's on her game, why not take a shot?" said Schosberg, who trains the filly for Sheila Sherry. "I got the gamest owner in the game.

Pentatonic, who is 3 for 5 at Belmont, covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.95 and returned $14.80 to win.

Express Tour to return in Jerome

Express Tour had already been off 98 days when NYRA officials decided to postpone last Saturday's Jerome Handicap and run it this Saturday. Another week shouldn't make much of a difference. The extra week allowed Express Tour to get another work in and on Wednesday he drilled five furlongs in 1:00.60, with a final quarter in 24 seconds, according to trainer Tom Albertrani. Officially, Express Tour was timed for six furlongs in 1:15.15.

Albertrani said Express Tour was simply knocked out from the Kentucky Derby and Riva Ridge and was given ample time to recover.

"From the last race he just seemed to go downhill," said Albertrani. "We just waited for him to show us he was doing good again. At Saratoga, before we were leaving, he was starting to show us he was on top of his game again."

Most of the six originally entered for the Jerome are expected back. That includes Burning Roma, Hero's Tribute, Illusioned, and Scorpion. Iron Mask is possible. He could instead run in Saturday's Kentucky Cup Sprint at Turfway Park.

Albert runs for Heroes Fund

Owner Tracy Farmer said he would donate 5 percent of the purse money Albert the Great earns in his next two races to the NTRA Charities-New York Heroes Fund. The fund was established to assist the families of New York City firefighters, police and emergency service personnel lost in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Albert the Great is expected to make his next start in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup and then the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

- additional reporting by David Grening