Sunday, July 12 2009


GIO PONTI AT THE TOP OF HIS GAME IN MAN o’WAR


ELMONT, N.Y. – After a wide trip all the way around, Gio Ponti edged away through the final sixteenth to win the 51st running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Man o’War by 1 ¾-lengths under red-hot jockey Ramon Dominguez Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park.

In hand leaving the first turn, the four-year-old son of Tale of the Cat sat well off the rail through slow early fractions of 25.23 and 49.99 set by longshot Musketier (GER). After circling five-wide entering the stretch, Gio Ponti quickly closed the gap and took over the lead from pacesetting Musketier, who held on to finish second. The final time for the mile and three-eighths was 2:12.56 over a firm inner turf course.





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Saturday, July 11 2009


NYRA TESTING PADDED RIDING CROPS


ELMONT, N.Y. – Jockeys at Belmont Park this week began testing padded crops designed to be gentler on horses, with the goal of fully implementing the new equipment by the start of The New York Racing Association, Inc.’s six-week Saratoga meeting on July 29.

Changes to the design of the crop include a new maximum length of 30 inches and maximum weight of eight ounces. The “popper” – the end of the crop that touches the horse – has been lengthened to seven inches and cushioned to absorb shock.





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Thursday, July 09 2009


Industry Groups Announce Pledges to Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation


The New York Racing Association (NYRA) and many members of the Jockeys’ Guild who ride at its three racetracks, along with the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and The Jockey Club, have jointly pledged more than $100,000 in financial support in 2009 to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), which provides humane retirement options for Thoroughbreds at the end of their racing careers, it was announced today.

NYRA will contribute $50,000 while NYTHA and The Jockey Club will donate $25,000 each. All 29 of the regular NYRA-based riders have pledged to donate, through a voluntary checkoff program, $1 from each mount.





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GIO PONTI STRETCHES OUT IN MAN o’WAR


ELMONT, N.Y. – Saturday’s 51st running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Man o’War has drawn able invaders from across the United States and Europe, but local turf talent is coming up strong in the 1 3/8-mile contest over Belmont Park’s inner turf course. Run as the day’s seventh race, the Man o’War is the opening leg of The New York Racing Association, Inc.’s $350,000 guaranteed late pick four on races 7-10.

Castleton Lyons Farm’s Gio Ponti enters the race off back-to-back Grade 1 scores for trainer Christophe Clement in the Manhattan Handicap at Belmont Park on June 6 and the Frank E. Kilroe Mile Handicap at Santa Anita in March.





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Tuesday, July 07 2009


BELMONT PARK NOTES: Monday, July 06, 2009


ELMONT, N.Y. – Rachel Alexandra put in her first workout this morning over the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course since winning the Grade 1 Mother Goose in a record-setting performance eight days ago.

Scott Blasi, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, and his lead pony Dakota guided Rachel Alexandra, with exercise rider Dominic Terry aboard, onto the training track at 5:50 a.m. The sensational three-year-old filly owned by Jess Jackson breezed four furlongs in 50.67 seconds over a track labeled as “fast.” Rachel Alexandra took the first quarter in :25 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:05.





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Monday, July 06 2009


MUNNINGS OVERPOWERS ELDERS IN TOM FOOL


ELMONT, N.Y. – Munnings took command at the top of the stretch after a rail-skimming move under jockey John Velazquez and ran off to an impressive victory over three rivals Sunday afternoon in the 35th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park.

The three-year-old son of 2004 champion sprinter Speightstown, only the fourth sophomore to win the race, sat behind early fractions of 22.10 and 44.47 set by Riley Tucker, then darted through an opening on the inside to grab the lead and rolled home 2¼ lengths clear of the pacesetter.





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Sunday, July 05 2009


DRY MARTINI SHAKES UP SUBURBAN HANDICAP


ELMONT, N.Y. -- Dry Martini became a millionaire at Belmont Park Saturday afternoon, rallying from last to post a two-length upset of favored Asiatic Boy in the 123rd running of the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Handicap.

Under Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, who won the Grade 2 Dwyer earlier on the Independence Day card, the 6-year-old gelded son of Slew Gin Fizz sat behind fractions of 47.63 and 1:11.39 set by longshot Finallymadeit, moved up on the turn, then split horses and came fastest of all for the upset as he covered the 1¼ miles in 2:00.80.





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CAT MOVES STAYS UNBEATEN WITH PRIORESS VICTORY


ELMONT, N.Y. – Cat Moves, ridden by Ramon Dominguez and trained by Anthony Dutrow, made a strong late move to corral stablemate Light Green by ¾-lengths in the 62nd running of the Grade 1, $300,000 Prioress at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 4. The three-year-old filly finished the six furlongs on Belmont’s main track in 1:08.65.

Light Green, ridden by John Velazquez and trained by Todd Pletcher, sat second early behind the pacesetter Heat Ashley, who went a quarter in 21.56 and a half in 44.01. Light Green took over the lead as they entered the stretch, grudgingly giving way to her stablemate in the final 100 yards, but finishing 2-1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Reforestation.





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KENSEI POWERS AWAY IMPRESSIVELY IN DWYER


ELMONT, N.Y. – Kensei, ridden by Edgar Prado and trained by Steve Asmussen, made a powerful move on the far turn en route to an impressive 3-1/4 length victory in the 92nd running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer at Belmont Park on Saturday, July 4. The three-year-old colt finished the 1-1/8 mile distance on Belmont’s main track in 1:40.47.

Warrior’s Reward, the heavy 4/5 favorite, ridden by Calvin Borel, had a slow start before rallying late to finish a well-beaten third, 2-1/4 lengths behind second-place Convocation.





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NYRA MATCHES MONEY RAISED DURING CALVIN BOREL AUTOGRAPH SIGNING


ELMONT, N.Y. – Fans lined up at Belmont Park Saturday afternoon to get autographs from jockey Calvin Borel, resulting in more than $4,000 being raised for the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF).

The proceeds from the signing, with autographs going for $10 each, totaled $2,170, and The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) announced it will match that number for a total of $4,340 going to the PDJF.





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Friday, July 03 2009


BELMONT PARK NOTES: Friday, July 3, 2009


ELMONT, N.Y. – Dancing Forever, third in an allowance in his 2009 debut on May 31, is heading into the Grade 1, $500,000 Man o’ War on July 11 at Belmont Park in good order as Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey contemplates a schedule that will bring the 6-year-old horse back to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf at Santa Anita.

“I thought he ran good the other day,” said McGaughey. “He was always a big horse and it took him a while to get things together in his career. He had a break over the winter, and whatever bumps and bruises he had, had a chance to go away.”





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PLETCHER HOPING RECENT HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IN THE TOM FOOL


ELMONT, N.Y. – In 34 previous editions of the Tom Fool Handicap, three-year-olds have been victorious only three times, most recently in 2000 when Todd Pletcher saddled Trippi to a 4½-length victory in the seven-furlong race.

Sunday, Pletcher is hoping history repeats itself when he sends out Michael B. Tabor’s sophomore star Munnings against four older horses in the Grade 2, $200,000 sprint at Belmont Park.





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