Friday, May 08, 2009

BELMONT PARK NOTES; Friday, May 8, 20009

ELMONT, N.Y. -- Barry Irwin of Team Valor International said that Gitano Hernando (GB) will make his American debut in the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 6. The 1½-mile Belmont Stakes for three-year-olds, “The Test of the Champion,” is the oldest and longest of the Triple Crown races.

The son of Hernando, runner-up in today’s Group 3 Addleshaw Goddard Dee Stakes at Chester Race Course in England, has never run on dirt but is scheduled to breeze several times over sand before shipping to New York.

Gitano Hernando is trained by Marco Botti, a former jockey and son of noted Italian trainer Alduino Botti, for whom he worked as an assistant for three years. Marco Botti has also worked in Dubai for Godolphin Stable, in Europe for trainers Ed Dunlop and Luca Cumani, and in America for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.

The Hernando colt was a neck behind regally bred South Easter, a son of Galileo, in the one mile, two furlong and 75-yard Dee after a lengthy inquiry.

Said Irwin: “(In today’s race, Gitano Hernando) was sawed off going into the first turn and our rider lodged an objection, which was not allowed. However, the winning rider (Neil Callan) was handed a two-day suspension for careless riding and a two-day suspension for improper use of the whip.

“We chose the Dee because it was used by My Memoirs before he ran second to [eventual Horse of the Year] A. P. Indy in the 1992 Belmont. The colt has never run on dirt, but he will breeze at least twice in the next three weeks on the sand at Lingfield Race Course outside of London.”

Gitano Hernando is now 2-2-0 from five starts. He was bought by Team Valor International after breaking his maiden on an all-weather track at Wolverhampton in his third start as a two-year-old. He has run twice for Team Valor, winning a handicap at Doncaster on March 29 in his three-year-old debut.

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Trainer Paulo Lobo has settled in well in his new digs at Belmont Park, where he relocated his stable from southern California at the start of Belmont’s spring/summer meet.

“The move went very well, only one horse got sick,” said Lobo, who had raced in New York only five times before making the move, saddling Farda Amiga to victory in the 2002 Alabama and Pico Central to win the 2004 Carter Handicap, Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) and Vosburgh, all Grade 1 races. Pico Central also finished third in the 2004 Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile to Lion Tamer. “The weather has been different – it never rains in California, and it’s been raining a lot lately. But where I grew up in Sao Paolo, it rained every day during the summer.”

Lobo, who sent out the Brazilian mare Eletro Nuclear for a five-furlong breeze in 1:03.28 on Belmont’s sloppy main track Friday morning, saddled his first starter as a New Yorker on May 6, finishing fourth with Love Tune in the Elizabeth Bay Stakes. Saturday, he saddles Ricoriatoa, a gray son of Smarty Jones making his third start, in the seventh race, a six-furlong maiden special.

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The Belmont Stakes has a new home on the web at

The brand new website, designed by, offers visitors a myriad of great Belmont Stakes content, including videos, podcasts, photo galleries, news, race day information, race history, and special content from the Daily Racing Form. In addition, the website features blogs from four racing experts: Teresa Genaro, Lisa Grimm, and NYRA’s own Jenny Kellner and Andy Serling. joins a group of NYRA online offerings that includes and, along with NYRA’s official websites on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and YouTube.

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Racing fans can enter to win a pair of VIP tickets to the 141st Belmont Stakes, round-trip airfare and accommodations for two at the Garden City Hotel by visiting The two runners-up have a choice of two tickets to the 2009 Shadwell Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race course on Aug. 29 or a $200 gift certificate to the online NYRA store, redeemable for officially licensed NYRA merchandise. Shipping is included.

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