04/29/2009 12:00AM

Weather figures key for Mister Triester

Email

ELMONT, N.Y. - With showers forecast for the Long Island area Thursday night, wet weather could impact the first weekend of racing at Belmont Park, beginning with Friday's featured eighth race.

The high-end optional claimer at a mile drew a field of six older males, with probable pacesetter Mister Triester drawn on the rail first time off a $75,000 claim by Bruce Levine.

One problem: Mister Triester dislikes off going, having lost his three starts under such conditions by an average of just more than 15 lengths.

Another problem: Cave's Valley has enough speed to put pressure on Mister Triester, and the Laurel invader was scratched from Wednesday's Grade 3 Westchester to await this $57,000 spot.

"I thought the Westchester came up a pretty tough race," trainer Mike Trombetta said.

Cave's Valley comes off a pair of sharp efforts in March, capped by a win over a good track that earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 98.

"His last couple races have been really good," said Trombetta, "and he seems to adapt pretty well to wet tracks."

Gold Trippi, whose only finish out of the money from five races at Belmont was a fifth in the Grade 3 Sport Page last fall, returns to New York for trainer Stanley Hough. He has been freshened since winning a $150,000 claimer at Gulfstream in midwinter.

The field is completed by More Than a Reason, 5 for 6 on wet tracks; Famous Patriot, third in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream two back; and Real Merchant, second in the Stymie at 40-1 at Aqueduct.

Tripleheader of Grade 3's

A revamped stakes schedule makes for a Grade 3 stakes tripleheader on Saturday.

The $200,000 Nassau County drew just five 3-year-old fillies and was carded as race 4.

The Beaugay and the Fort Marcy, a pair of $100,000 grass races at 1 1/16 miles that were formerly run closing weekend at Aqueduct, will go as races 8 and 9 on a 10-race program.

The Fort Marcy drew seven turf-meant older males, including Silver Tree and Operation Red Dawn, who were the one-two finishers last year, and Dancing Forever, who won the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap here last year for Shug McGaughey.

Dancing Forever, third in the Breeders' Cup Turf to conclude his 5-year-old campaign last year, is at the mercy of the weather.

"I would like to get him started in the Fort Marcy, but I won't run him if it rains," McGaughey said. "I want to get a race into him as a prep for the Manhattan. I don't want to run him at a mile and a quarter first time off a layoff."

Bribon holds on in Westchester

Sweeping past the leaders with a wide move approaching the stretch, Bribon ($7.70) opened a daylight lead with a furlong remaining and held off a late charge from Discreet Treasure to win the opening-day Grade 3, $110,000 Westchester by a length under Alan Garcia.

A slight favorite over eventual sixth-place finisher Tale of Ekati, Bribon relaxed well off sharp fractions of 22.59 seconds and 44.58 as Per Incanto, Formidable, and Spin Master battled for command, took over just before going six furlongs in 1:09.46, and ran the mile in 1:35.38 on a fast track to notch his first graded stakes win.

Discreet Treasure was clearly second best, and Mor Chances finished third.

"I was a little concerned that he moved too soon," said winning trainer Bobby Ribaudo. "He was taking Alan really aggressively into those fast fractions, but everything turned out alright. As long as he comes out of this all right, our goal is the Met Mile."