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Thursday, September 30, 2010


GODOLPHIN’S GIROLAMO GOES FOR GRADE 1 GLORY IN VOSBURGH


ELMONT, N.Y. – Belmont Park’s $350,000 Vosburgh Invitational is the first of five Grade 1 races on “Super Saturday,” with Godolphin Stable’s Girolamo heading a talented field of nine sprinters all vying for their first Grade 1 win.

The 4-year-old A. P. Indy colt will be making just his second start of the year in the six-furlong Vosburgh, having finished fifth in his 2010 debut in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga Race Course on September 4.


“It took a long time getting him back to the races this year,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to trainer Saeed bin Suroor. “He didn’t really run that badly considering it was a Grade 1 and a tough race off the layoff. That race should have helped him a lot and he should be fit enough for this race.”

One of several Vosburgh starters with Grade 1 experience, Girolamo has proven successful at Belmont Park, going 2-for-2 last fall including a one-length victory in the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap. The lightly raced colt, who is 4-0-0 from eight lifetime starts, will be shortening up to six furlongs for the first time in the Vosburgh.

“I think the distance will be fine,” said Mettee. “He’s got a high cruising speed and he shouldn’t really have any excuses in here, if he’s good enough.”

Girolamo will leave from post position 2, carrying rider Alan Garcia as the 2-1 morning-line favorite.

Another horse with multiple Grade 1 starts is Driven by Success, winner of three of his last four starts including the Vic Ziegel Memorial at Saratoga Race Course.

“Even though he’s never won a graded stake, he’s run races that are good enough to win graded stakes,” said trainer Todd Pletcher of Driven by Success, who in 2009 posted a pair of third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Carter and the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

The 5-year-old gelding drew the rail under jockey John Velazquez at 4-1 on the morning line.

“He’s historically not a horse that is great on his first step, so breaking from the rail could potentially be a problem, but we’ll see,” said Pletcher.

The most experienced horse in the field is Riley Tucker, who makes his 28th lifetime start in the Vosburgh. The Steve Asmussen-trained son of Harlan’s Holiday is coming off an allowance victory at Parx Racing, his third win of the year.

“He ran a good race last time,” said assistant trainer Toby Sheets. “He’s got good closing speed but he can go from either direction. I think he’s better from coming off of the pace but we’ll wait and see where they all end up.”

The 5-year-old Zayat Stable color-bearer will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez at 6-1 on the morning line from post position 8.

The most senior member of the field is 6-year-old Temecula Creek, who was claimed for $7,500 in 2009 by trainer Rudy Rodriguez and who won four straight starter allowance races before finishing fifth in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga Race Course and second in the Icecapade at Monmouth Park.

“Hopefully he runs well,” said Rodriguez. “He’s been doing real well since the Icecapade. The Vosburgh is a very tough race and a Grade 1, but we’re enjoying everything with him. We’ve been very, very blessed.”

At 12-1 on the morning line, Temecula Creek will be ridden by Cornelio Velasquez from post position 5.

Wildcat Brief came from last to win the Icecapade by 1 ¼ lengths and trainer Ben Perkins is looking for a similar run Saturday from the 4-year-old son of Forest Wildcat.

“There should be good early speed Saturday,” said Perkins. “He’s one of those horses who need a good setup. In his races where he’s come off the pace he’s run a little better.”

Wildcat Brief is at 12-1 on the morning line, and will be ridden by Garrett Gomez from the outside.

Rounding out the field are Snapshot, the Grade 2 True North runner-up who is making his first Grade 1 start; Latigo Shore, most recently third in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga Race Course; Grade 3 Toboggan winner Wall Street Wonder, fourth in the Icecapade, and Golden Spikes, making his second start of the year.


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