10/20/2009 11:00PM

Weathered willing to test males going long

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Criticism will make the final start of her career in the Nov. 1 Long Island.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The Empire Classic at Belmont Park is worth twice as much money as the Iroquois, but that isn't why trainer Karl Grusmark is planning to run his 4-year-old filly Weathered against the boys on Saturday rather than the girls.

"It's the distance," Grusmark said.

Grusmark said he believes Weathered is better suited to the 1 1/8 miles of the $250,000 Empire Classic than she is the seven furlongs of the $125,000 Iroquois Stakes, which is for fillies and mares. Thus, Weathered will face males such as Future Prospect, Ruffino, and Slevin in the centerpiece race on Saturday's New York Showcase Day card.

Weathered has had a solid year in New York, winning the Rare Treat and Grade 3 Next Move at Aqueduct during the winter as well as the Belle Born Stakes here on Sept. 24. The races at Aqueduct were 1 1/8 miles while the Belle Born was 1 1/16 miles. Weathered was on or close to the lead in all three races.

"There's a lot of speed in the filly race," said Grusmark, who spoke by phone as he was driving Weathered and two stablemates to Belmont from Finger Lakes. "Her best distance is a mile and a sixteenth to a mile and an eighth."

Grusmark isn't thrilled about taking on Future Prospect, who like Weathered has speed. "He's going to be tough to beat, but I think we can give him a run for his money," he said.

In addition to Weathered, Grusmark plans to run Yet Again in the $150,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares on the turf and Persian Ruler in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow for 2-year-old males.

Yet Again is winless in four starts on turf, but Grusmark said he believes the 1 1/8 miles of the race is going to help his filly "a lot." She has yet to run beyond 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Persian Ruler will once again have to deal with Ibboyee, who defeated Persian Ruler in both the Aspirant and New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes going six furlongs. The Sleepy Hollow is run at one mile on dirt.

Criticism points to Long Island

Though briefly under consideration for the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, the multiple graded stakes winner Criticism will skip that race and instead be pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Long Island Handicap here on Nov. 1, trainer Tom Albertrani said.

The Long Island, a race Criticism won last year, will mark the final race of the 5-year-old mare's career.

"We just felt it might be a little more difficult for her to travel out there and maybe she's just not quite up to the caliber of the competition she'd be facing out there," Albertrani, who trains Criticism for Darley Stable, said of the Filly and Mare Turf. "She won the Long Island last year and it's going to be the last race of her career, so we'll try to make the most of it."

Criticism, who won the The Very One, La Prevoyante, and Sheepshead Bay earlier in the year, worked five furlongs in 1:02 Thursday morning over Belmont's main track.

Meanwhile, Albertrani said there are no concrete plans for Gozzip Girl, the 3-year-old filly who finished third in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth last Saturday at Keeneland. Albertrani noted that Gozzip Girl lost some weight both prior to and following the Queen Elizabeth.

Track-record Wednesday

To say Belmont Park's main track was playing fast on Wednesday would be an understatement as one track record was broken and another was tied, right down to the hundredth of a second.

Birdrun, a 3-year-old son of Birdstone, won a first-level allowance race by 8 1/4 lengths while covering 1 1/16 miles in 1:39.38. That eclipsed the mark of 1:39.51 set by Rock and Roll in 1998. Birdrun, like Rock and Roll, is trained by Bill Mott. Birdrun's previous victory came in an off-the-turf $35,000 claiming race at Saratoga.

Birdrun's win on Wednesday came an hour after Super Shape won a $35,000 claiming race by 2 3/4 lengths, running 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:14.46. That is the exact same time run by Bear Fan on June 5, 2004.

Wednesday was the first day the main track was labeled fast since heavy rains inundated the area last week.

* Anna Napravnik, the second-leading rider at Delaware Park behind David Cohen, will begin riding regularly at Aqueduct on Nov. 11, according to her new agent, Roger Sutton. Napravnik will be here Friday to ride Bon Jovi Girl in the $65,000 Real Prize Stakes. She is also named to ride horses for Todd Pletcher and Rick Violette.