09/14/2010 2:31PM

Turf mile has solid, deep cast


ELMONT, N.Y. – Belmont has gone retro for the first Thursday at the fall meet, with a solid card that includes four filly-and-mare allowance races, a $35,000 claiming sprint open to all comers (remember those?), a couple of one-mile maiden specials for 2-year-olds, and an all-turf late pick four that is actually de rigueur these days: Should Mother Nature cooperate, this would be the 20th one of the season in New York.

The $50,000 headliner is race 4, a competitive second-level optional claimer scheduled for a mile on the Widener turf, where only Outstanding, a Florida shipper, is in for the $50,000 claiming price. In Perpetuity and Whisked Away, a pair of well connected and lightly-raced fillies, return from layoffs after flashing potential for respective trainers Kiaran McLaughlin and Bill Mott.

Consequence, last year’s American Guineas winner for the Phipps Stable, but trying for the seventh time to get through this condition for Shug McGaughey, has caught firm turf only once this year, both times against eventual stakes winners. She was compromised by a speed-favoring inner turf course at Saratoga last out.

Darjeeling, who has won or placed in all three of her grass starts, attempts to stretch out after two sharp sprints at Monmouth to begin her 6-year-old campaign for Steve Asmussen.

Adding depth to the lineup are: Exclusive Scheme, upset winner of the W. B. Fasig overnight stakes at Saratoga; Moving Heart, an Irish import who has been idle since winning her U.S. debut at Gulfstream Park in April; Obsequious, a good-figure winner at Monmouth last out; and Musical Rain, another Irish filly, who makes her Stateside debut.

The high-quality opener is a $48,000 first-level allowance pitting Dubai Dancer, an impressive Saratoga maiden winner for Darley Stable, against Freedom Flag, a Will Farish homebred out of Alabama winner Runup the Colors, who has been idle since a maiden win closing week of Belmont’s spring-summer meet.

Flask, coming off a front-end score in a starter allowance, looms the one to catch as she stretches out to a mile.

All nine New York-breds in race 7, a second-level optional claimer scheduled for the inner turf at 1 1/16 miles, have posted a top lifetime Beyer Speed Figure in the 79-84 range.

It’s anyone’s guess who the favorite will be in race 8, a first-level optional claiming scramble scheduled for seven furlongs on the Widener turf.