Updated on 09/16/2011 8:28AM

Volponi prep is pick 6 finale


ELMONT, N.Y. - Following a visually impressive allowance win by his 4-year-old colt Volponi on May 8, trainer Phil Johnson said he would run him back in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

Upon further evaluation, Johnson decided to skip that race - in fact he didn't even nominate to the race - and was he ever glad he did.

"This is a slaughterhouse race today," Johnson said Monday, hours before Swept Overboard ran the fourth-fastest Met Mile and won by 4 3/4 lengths.

Instead of the Met Mile, Johnson targeted the $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap on June 15 for Volponi. And instead of drilling the horse repeatedly to make that race, Johnson found a nice allowance spot for Volponi on Thursday at Belmont Park. The one-mile race, worth $56,000, drew a field of nine.

The race took on added significance for bettors when the pick six went un-hit Monday, creating a $73,909 carryover for Thursday's card. Volponi's allowance race is the final leg of that wager.

Johnson said Volponi came out of his seven-furlong allowance win - his first race since last Nov. 24 - in good order. "If anything, he seems to be a little stronger at the end of his gallops," he said. "Later on, I think his peak will be in two-turn races at a mile and an eighth and up."

Since returning to the dirt following three consecutive turf tries last summer, Volponi has four wins and a second from five starts. That includes a victory in the Grade 2 Pegasus Handicap at The Meadowlands and a better-than-it-looked fourth in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Johnson said Volponi is a little keener this year than last, and he will make a slight adjustment to the blinkers the colt wears.

"I'm going to put some holes in the blinkers," Johnson said. "He has a little more speed this year. If he happens to hit the lead early I want him to know something's coming."

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. has named Edgar Prado on both Toddler and Spectacularspencer, so only one may run, but either is a threat. Toddler, who makes his first start since finishing fifth in the Evan Shipman Handicap last July 22, has run well fresh and has the speed to be an early factor.

Spectacularspencer, whom Dutrow claimed from Johnson for $35,000 in November 2000, makes his first start since finishing second in allowance company on April 11. Spectacularspencer could work out a good stalking trip from the outside post.

Open Sesame gets Lasix for the first time and is the likely pacesetter under Jorge Chavez.

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