05/20/2009 11:00PM

Top statebreds return following layoffs

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - Dr. V's Magic won the $250,000 Empire Classic in 2007. Stud Muffin won the same race in 2008. Both would like to make it back to the richest race restricted to older New York-breds later this year.

:: RACE OF THE DAY:

With that in mind, Dr. V's Magic and Stud Muffin kick off their 2009 campaigns in the $65,000 Seaport Mac Stakes for New York-breds at 1 1/16 miles on Friday at Belmont Park, home of the Empire Classic. A field of seven was entered for the Seaport Mac.

Dr. V's Magic, who was 15-1 when he won the Empire Classic, went winless in two starts in 2008. He came out of a fifth-place finish in the Noble Nashua Stakes last May 30 with an ankle injury that required surgery. Trainer Dominic Galluscio was prepping him for a fall comeback when the horse suffered a bout of colitis, which nearly cost him his life.

"Thank God we saved him," said Galluscio. "He's regained his strength and he's training very well. It may take him a race or two, we kind of need to get him back to his competitive ways, but he is fit."

Kent Desormeaux is scheduled to ride Dr. V's Magic from the rail.

Stud Muffin, who was 4-1 when he won the Empire Classic, has not run since finishing second in the Grade 3 Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct last Nov. 15. After his 11-race campaign in 2008, he was given a freshening, and has returned with a modest work tab for trainer David Duggan, who claimed the horse from Galluscio for $35,000 in March 2008.

"It's a starting point," Duggan said. "We'll be running at the end. It looks like there's plenty of speed in there."

Stud Muffin, who is 3 for 6 over Belmont's main track, breaks from post 2 under Alan Garcia.

The horse to beat is Wishful Tomcat, who comes off a three-quarter-length victory in the Kings Point at Aqueduct for trainer Rick Dutrow and IEAH Stable. He has won his last four races against New York-breds and figures to be on or near the lead under under Ramon Dominguez from post 6.

Tommasi, the beaten favorite in last year's Empire Classic, comes off a third-place finish to Wishful Tomcat in the Kings Point, his 7-year-old debut. South Fourth St. and Joe Corrigan complete the field.