10/14/2010 2:48PM

Strike the Bell can handle soft going

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Barbara D. Livingston
Strike the Bell, Ramon Dominguez up, wins the Noble Damsel.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer David Donk isn’t as concerned with what type of turf Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Athenia Stakes at Belmont Park is run on, just that it simply is run on the turf at all.

“We don’t run if it comes off,” Donk, who has Strike the Bell entered in the Athenia.

While the forecast in the New York area for Saturday is for dry weather, the forecast for Thursday night into Friday was for between one and two inches of windswept rain. Belmont’s turf was already listed as yielding for Thursday, a card in which two races were transferred to the main track.

Despite breaking from post 11 and having to tote high weight of 123 pounds, Strike the Bell may rate a slight edge in a wide-open renewal of the Athenia, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles over the inner turf. She ran well over a yielding turf at Belmont in July 2009, and won the Grade 3 Noble Damsel over good Belmont grass in her last start on Sept. 19. She was the beneficiary of a solid pace that day. There may not be as strong a pace on Saturday, though Giant Mover and Trix in the City look like they want the lead.

“She’s got a very good turn of foot,” Donk said of Strike the Bell. “She’s doing as well going into this one as she was the last one. On the grass, it’s all about getting the trip.”

With John Velazquez and Ramon Dominguez _ the regular riders of Strike the Bell – out of town, Alex Solis picks up the mount.

Eye of Taurus beat Giant Mover in the Revidere at Monmouth on Sept. 11. Last fall, Eye of Taurus won a division of the Valley View Stakes at Keeneland over yielding turf. She finished one-half length behind Strike the Bell in the Miss Liberty at Monmouth on July 4.

Giant Mover may try to steal this race breaking from the rail under David Cohen for trainer Todd Pletcher, who also sends out Miss Catalyst for the turf.

Mary’s Follies is 2 for 2 on the turf, but has not run since winning the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill 11 months ago. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said his filly is doing well and is ready to run, but wouldn’t be surprised if she needed a race to be at her best.

Tottie cuts back in distance after winning the Omnibus Stakes at 1 3/8 miles and would appreciate any give in the ground, according to trainer Chad Brown.

McVictory is entered to run only if the race comes off the turf.