Sunday, September 15, 2013

Belmont Park Notes

• Alterite emerges from G1 Garden City win in good shape; Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution breeze in company; Brown considering impressive maiden winner Shadow Banking for G3 Pilgrim
• Orb, Point of Entry turn in Saturday breezes
• Debut winner Noble Moon continues strong run for Gyarmati
• Whitney Viewing Stand remains open on Saturdays and Sundays

ELMONT, N.Y. - Martin Schwartz's Alterite emerged from her North American debut victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $500,000 Garden City in good shape, trainer Chad Brown said Sunday morning.

Making the first start for her new connections, Alterite overcame a moderate pace set by Discreet Marq and a firm inner turf course to win by 1 ½ lengths, defending the victory Schwartz and Brown earned in last year's Garden City with Samitar.

"She came out of the race good so far," said Brown. "Based on what I'm told and watching her races and reading her form, it seems like she excels with softer ground. The ground had a little cut in it yesterday, which was good, and she ran well, anyway. She's just a good horse.

"When you've got a Grade 1 winner getting away from there in a 50[-second] half, it's a little discouraging," he added. "Halfway through the race, I wasn't sure we'd be able to kick past her, but she did. I think I have a really nice horse here."

Brown credited his Belmont-based assistant, Cherie DeVaux, for the progress of Alterite, who arrived in July as the barn was transitioning to the Saratoga Race Course meet.

"She was in the process of being shipped over, and Marty was keen on the idea of the Garden City with her," Brown said. "It was a little tight for my schedule, getting her over here and adjusted to our program. The only way we could do it was to get her settled into Belmont early. Cherie did a fantastic job with the horse. For most of the Saratoga meet she was here, and it worked. She's a bit of a high-strung horse, and she really is comfortable now with her surroundings. She got to run out of her own stall yesterday. She had plenty of schooling in the paddock. I'm very proud of the way she handled herself, both prior to the race and in the race."

Brown mentioned the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II on October 12 Keeneland as a possible next start.

Also in the Garden City for Brown was Grade 3 winner Watsdachances, who broke from the far outside post and ran last of 10 along the inside before rallying to finish fourth, just a head and a nose out of second.

"I thought she ran great. She had a difficult post," said Brown. "We made a decision in the paddock, [jockey] Javier [Castellano] and I did, to just take her off the break and tuck her in last and save some ground that first turn. We lost position doing that but we did save some ground. She's another one that gave a strong kick off a slow pace, and nearly got up into the exacta. A couple more strides, I think she would have been there. I was real happy with her race."

Prior to the Garden City, Laugh Out Loud ran close to a fast pace but faded to finish last of six in the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel. Another European import for Schwartz and Brown, she is winless in four starts this year, including third as the favorite in the De La Rose at Saratoga.

"Laugh Out Loud came out of the Noble Damsel with no major problems," said Brown. "She's been disappointing, this filly, for sure. She doesn't really have her mind on being a racehorse, I feel."

Grade 1 winners Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution breezed in company for Brown on Sunday at Belmont, going five furlongs in 1:02.22 on the inner turf course. Brown said both horses remain under consideration for the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational on September 28.

On Thursday, Brown has horses entered in both of the card's overnight dirt stakes. Street Secret will compete in the $100,000 Parlo for females 3-years-old and up at 1 1/16 miles, while Readtheprospectus makes his return to racing in the $100,000 Spite the Devil for state-bred 3-year-olds and up going one mile.

"Street Secret really ran well last time at Saratoga. Since we put her on the dirt, I've really been impressed with her," said Brown. "If she runs well here we'll think about running her back in the [Grade 3] Turnback the Alarm [October 26 at Belmont]. I think she deserves a spot in a graded stake at some point."

Readtheprospectus has won six straight races, including all four starts this year, but has been off since taking the Commentator Handicap at Belmont on June 1.

"He's got a good win streak going," said Brown. "We needed to back off him a bit for some issues with quarter cracks in his feet, and it seems to be all resolved now. It seems like a logical spot to bring him back, and maybe it will serve as a prep for the [$250,000] Empire Classic [October 19 at Belmont]. It looks like a salty spot, so he's going to have to run. We were looking for a prep so, hopefully, he runs well. He seems to be sound and training well now."

Brown indicated Shadow Banking, who won his race debut for owners Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence on September 11 at Belmont, may be wheeled back in 25 days in the Grade 3, $150,000 Pilgrim on October 6.

A juvenile son of Harlan's Holiday, Shadow Banking came from last to win by 6 ¼ lengths as the 7-5 favorite, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.29.

"Shadow Banking came out of his race real well," said Brown. "We're running short on time getting him to the Breeders' Cup. [The timing is] a little tight, but that's what I'm planning on doing. He's another one that didn't look like he was fully extended in his race. He did it pretty easy, so hopefully he'll be OK."

* * *

Prominent horses trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey turned in Saturday breezes in separate locations, with Kentucky Derby winner Orb working at Fair Hill in Maryland and turf star Point of Entry rejoining the worktab at Belmont after spending the past three months recovering from a non-displaced condylar fracture.

Stuart S. Janney, III and Phipps Stable's Orb, third in the Grade 1 Travers on August 24 in his most recent start, breezed five furlongs in 1:01 at Fair Hill. He is targeting the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on September 28.

"He went excellent," said McGaughey. "The reports were all nothing but positive, not only from his camp but also from some people I talked to. They said it was a terrific."

One day after Point of Entry picked up his fifth Grade 1 victory in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, his connections detected the condylar fracture of his left-hind cannon bone, which required surgery. On Saturday, Point of Entry breezed three furlongs in 37.55 seconds.

McGaughey said that if everything goes perfectly, Point of Entry could be ready in time for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf in November at Santa Anita. Point of Entry was second in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Turf after winning the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

"He had a nice work yesterday," said McGaughey. "He came out of it very well and galloped this morning a little ways. All I'm going to do is just sit around here and keep doing it as long he is OK and see where it takes me. My plans would be the Breeders' Cup, but I don't think I'll be able to get a race into him."

McGaughey added that Emory Hamilton's Hungry Island exited her runner-up performance in yesterday's Grade 3 Noble Damsel in good shape and that she could make her next start in either the Grade 1 First Lady on October 5 at Keeneland or the Grade 3 Athenia on October 12 at Belmont.

"I thought she ran good yesterday," said McGaughey. "She probably would have been a little better if she could swing to the outside, but that wasn't the case."

* * *

After ending the Saratoga Race Course meeting on a high note, trainer Leah Gyarmati has carried her momentum to Belmont Park.

Gyarmati won with two of her 22 starters at Saratoga, both with 2-year-old filly Sweet Reason, who gave the trainer her first Grade 1 victory with an upset of the $300,000 Spinaway on September 1.

Already, Gyarmati has matched her Saratoga win totals through the first six days of Belmont's fall gathering, taking the meet opener with Smooth Bert on September 7, and Saturday's fifth race with promising juvenile colt Noble Moon.

A $200,000 yearling purchase last fall, Noble Moon is a bay son of Malibu Moon owned by Treadway Racing Stables, which also owns Sweet Reason. Making his debut, Noble Moon went gate-to-wire from post 1, holding off 4-5 favorite Divine Energy to win by three-quarters of a length in 1:10.39 for six furlongs on the main track.

"I knew he could run, but kind of like [Sweet Reason], he's going to probably want to go longer and the post position was probably not ideal for getting a clean trip," Gyarmati said. "It worked out great. In the mornings when he works, if you put him off in front of a horse or next to a horse, he would work dynamite. None of the other 2-year-olds were able to beat him. But, if he'd start out behind, he just wanted to play.

"[Jockey] Alex [Solis] got on him one morning and he schooled him," she added. "He made him get dirt in his face and made him get up with the horses, but he wasn't happy about it. That's why I was thinking it was probably not a good scenario being in the one-hole if he does kind of get left or breaks short or breaks slow, especially with that many horses. It was a 12-horse field and they were all kind of playing around not wanting to go in [the gate], and he was standing there so long. I was a little worried about that but, shoot, he came right on out of there."

Gyarmati said she has no immediate plans on where to run Noble Moon next.

"It's kind of a nice problem to have, to be able to sit down and think where you're going to go next," she said. "I'm not sure yet."

Meanwhile, Gyarmati is looking to bring Sweet Reason back in the Grade 1, $400,000 Frizette for 2-year-old fillies going a mile at Belmont on October 5. The daughter of Street Sense broke her maiden at Saratoga on August 9.

"As long as she's doing well going into it, that's probably what we'll do," she said. "We were talking about Breeders' Cup, and I guess I'm just thinking about all these four races kind of in a row. What's better; do you wait and just run in the Breeders' Cup, or do you try to do all of them? She'll tell me, when we get closer. She's doing great, really well. Nothing bothers her. She just goes with the flow."

Among the possibilities for 3-year-old New York-bred ridgling Smooth Bert is the $250,000 Empire Classic, the highlight of Empire Showcase Day presented by The Fund on October 19.

"He ran huge. He got a big number, and that was great," said Gyarmati. "I don't know what to do next with him. I don't see anything else for him. I don't know if I want to run him against that caliber of older horses right now, but I don't know that I have another choice. Everything's on the table."

* * *

The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has announced that the Whitney Viewing Stand at Saratoga Race Course will be open to the public during the offseason on Saturdays and Sundays from 8-10 a.m. through the conclusion of training on the Oklahoma training track later in the fall.

Guests can enter through Gate 15 on Union Avenue. Gate 21 on East Avenue/Potato Chip Lane is closed.

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