Thursday, April 30, 2009


With nearly $910,000 already bankrolled, Phipps Stables’ Dancing Forever is certain to go over the $1 million mark in earnings this year, but Hall of Fame trainer “Shug” McGaughey isn’t about to hurry the process.

McGaughey has big plans for the 6-year-old Rahy horse, including a defense of his victory in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 6. Ideally, Dancing Forever will begin his 2009 campaign on Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park in the 33rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Fort Marcy for three-year-olds at up at a mile and a sixteenth on the Widener turf course.

The Fort Marcy (race 9, 5:17 p.m.), formerly run at Aqueduct Racetrack, is one of three graded stakes races to kickoff opening weekend of Belmont Park’s Spring/Summer Meet. Belmont Park’s 10-race live card on Saturday, which begins at 1 p.m., will also include the 14th running of the Grade 3, 200,000 Nassau County for three-year-old fillies at seven furlongs (race 4, $2:36 p.m.) and the 32nd running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Beaugay, the Fort Marcy’s filly and mare inner turf course counterpart (race 8, 4:44 p.m.). Additionally, Belmont Park will offer simulcasting of the Kentucky Derby Day card from Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.

After winning the Woodford Reserve Manhattan by a nose on Belmont Stakes Day last June, Dancing Forever had three more starts without a victory, ending 2008 with a third-place finish behind Conduit and Eagle Mountain in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

McGaughey says Dancing Forever is doing well, which is welcome news as he has not only a special place within the Phipps family, but with racing fans as well. He is the first foal out of the Seeking the Gold mare, Dancinginmydreams, who broke her leg in the 2000 Frizette. A full sister to champion Heavenly Prize and Grade 1 winner Oh What a Windfall, Dancinginmydreams endured several operations and the odds of her surviving, much less having a healthy foal, were slim.

Dancing Forever, a big horse who is still developing, offers plenty of promise for the coming season.

“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 mile and a quarter first time off a layoff.”

Flying Zee Stable’s Cosmonaut makes his seasonal debut for trainer Phil Serpe, and has not raced since he was second in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap last July 12.

“We like to space his races out,” joked trainer Phil Serpe. “Seriously, I had him last winter and he won at Tampa Bay Downs. Then, I ran him back in the (Grade 1) Makers’ Mark and he had a terrible trip, even though he ran fourth. He went back to Carlos (Martin), and while we were up in Saratoga, he suffered a non-displaced fracture of his right-front ankle. We gave him four months off, brought him to Palm Meadows in Florida for the winter and here we are.”

Peter Vepso’s Silver Tree ran fourth as the favorite in the Turf Classic at Tampa Bay Down on April 4 to start his year, but was beaten less than two lengths. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, the 9-year-old son of Hennessy won the Fort Marcy at Aqueduct last year over Operation Red Dawn.

Dion A. Recachina’s Operation Red Dawn came back to win his next start after the Fort Marcy last year for trainer Christophe Clement, but has lost four starts since, three of which were third-place finishes in graded stakes races.

Breaking from the rail is Godolphin Stable’s Tam Lin (GB). Winner of the Grade 3 Kelso Handicap here over soft going last September, the 6-year-old Selkirk gelding spent the winter in Dubai but did nothing to boost his resume.

Interpatation will also be making his seasonal bow for trainer Bobby Barbara, while Museeb will be making his second start of the year for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. has supplemented Mor Chances and Formal King to this race for the main track only.

The field for Saturday’s Grade 3 Fort Marcy:

1. Tam Lin (GB) Saeed bin Suroor Javier Castellano 118
2. Operation Red Dawn Christophe Clement Rajiv Maragh 116
3. Silver Tree Bill Mott Eddie Castro 118
4. Museeb Kiaran McLaughlin Richard Migliore 116
5. Cosmonaut Phil Serpe Jose Lezcano 118
6. Dancing Forever Shug McGaughey Cornelio Velasquez 118
7. Interpatation Bob Barbara Jose Espinoza 116
8. Mor Chances Richard Dutrow Jr. Richard Migliore 120
9. Formal King Richard Dutrow Jr. Jorge Chavez 116

Mor Chances and Formal King are entered for the main track only. Both were supplemented to this race.

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