Friday, September 25 2009


CONTESSA LOOKS TO SHIFT GEARS IN SUNDAY’S STAKES


ELMONT, N.Y. – It’s no secret that Gary Contessa has been New York’s leading trainer for the past three years on the strength of his claiming game. This weekend at Belmont Park, however, the 51-year-old trainer will get some answers not only about a pair of 2-year-olds, but perhaps about himself as well.

On Sunday, Contessa will saddle Winning Move Stable’s Valuable Lady against seven other New York-bred fillies in the $100,000-added Joseph A. Gimma Stakes and Darlene Bilinski’s Camptown Blues against six state-bred colts in the $100,000-added Bertram F. Bongard Stakes. A victory by one, or both, would be a first of sorts for Contessa, whose stakes success with 2-year-olds has come primarily at Aqueduct, including True Affair in the 1992 Tempted, Grey Comet in the 2002 Damon Runyon, and My Kitty in the 2006 East View.





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BELMONT PARK NOTES: Friday, September 25, 2009


ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Rick Dutrow reported from Aqueduct Race Track Friday morning that last weekend’s Grade 2 Futurity winner D’ Funnybone was doing well, but that he still had not made a determination on the next start for Paul Pompa, Jr.’s colt.

“We’re happy with the way he’s going,” Dutrow said. “We’ll be keeping an eye on the Champagne [Grade 1, $400,000, October 10 at Belmont Park] since it’s coming up first. He could run there, or train straight up to the Breeders’ Cup. We won’t change his training schedule either way. He’ll train right here at Aqueduct because this track is unbelievable. I’d hate to send him out there [to Santa Anita] ahead of time. We’d probably go at the last minute and run him.”





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Wednesday, September 23 2009


MSG PLUS OFFERS LIVE JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP DAY COVERAGE


ELMONT, N.Y. – MSG Plus, in partnership with The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA), will offer live coverage of the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational from Belmont Park on Saturday, October 3 from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. The telecast will also include coverage of four other prestigious Grade 1 races from Belmont Park.

As expected, the Jockey Club Gold Cup is lining up as one of the best races of the year. It marks the first time that Belmont Stakes and Shadwell Travers winner Summer Bird will compete against older horses. The 3-year-old son of Birdstone, trained by Tim Ice, has earned more than $1.5 million in only seven lifetime starts.





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Monday, September 21 2009


YOU GO WEST GIRL SCORES IN INAUGURAL JOHN HETTINGER


ELMONT, N.Y. – Craig Bernick’s You Go West Girl overtook front-running Stormy Relations in the final strides and was able to hold off late-charging Chestoria and Love Cove to win the first running of the $107,500 John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.

Trained by Tom Proctor, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. Greeley raced along the inside for six furlongs before angling out in upper stretch to take the lead and prevail by a neck. Her final time for the nine furlongs was 1:48.05 over the firm inner turf with the rails set at nine feet.





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RED LETTER DAY FOR RED LETTER DAY


ELMONT, N.Y. – Leading every step for 2½ miles, longshot Red Letter Day held off the late charge from Dynaski Sunday afternoon at Belmont Park to score his first stakes victory in the Grade 1, $157,600 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase.

Trained by Hall of Famer Janet Elliot, the 6-year-old gelded son of Red Ransom went straight to the front at the drop of the flag, and put in two big efforts over the final two fences to hold off the favorite and win by three-quarters of a length.





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BELMONT PARK NOTES: Sunday, September 20, 2009


ELMONT, N.Y. – Sunday morning saw Grade 2 Futurity winner D’ Funnybone boarding a van at Belmont Park for the short drive back to trainer Rick Dutrow’s barn at Aqueduct Racetrack. The trainer reported that the 2-year-old son of D’wildcat had come out of the race well.

“No decision [on his next start] is imminent,” Dutrow said. “We’ll just float along and see what happens.”





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Saturday, September 19 2009


AWESOME MARIA JUST THAT IN MATRON VICTORY


ELMONT, N.Y. – E. Paul Robsham Stables’ Awesome Maria scored her first stakes victory Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, taking the lead with 200 yards to go and edging away to a 2¾-length win over Touching Beauty in the 103rd running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Matron for 2-year-old fillies.

Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez and trained by Stanley Hough, the gray daughter of Maria’s Mon was bumped at the break, and then raced close behind Southern Truth as she towed the field of nine through fractions of 22.57 and 45.20. Moving into contention on the turn, Awesome Maria grabbed the lead with 200 yards to go and was never threatened as she hit the wire in 1:23.07 for the seven furlongs.





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NO FOOLING! D’ FUNNYBONE WINS FUTURITY


ELMONT, N.Y. – D’ Funnybone didn’t kid around Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, taking over at the top of the stretch and pulling clear to an authoritative 4¾-length victory over Discreetly Mine in the 120th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Futurity.

The 2-year-old son of D’Wildcat, owned by Paul Pompa, Jr. and trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr., sat just off fractions of 22.63 and 45.51 set by longshot Hear Ye Hear Ye, then rallied three-wide on the turn and cruised to the wire under a hand-ride for his second straight stakes victory.





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RUTHERIENNE A NOBLE DAMSEL, INDEED


Rutherienne more than proved her mettle Saturday afternoon at Belmont Park, battling bravely with Quiet Meadow right down to the wire to win the 22nd running of the Grade 3, $107,000 Noble Damsel by a nose.

Heavily-favored, Rutherienne sat well off brisk early fractions of 22.75 and 47.17 set by Meadow Saffron, moving up to split rivals in midstretch and challenge Quiet Meadow, who had taken the lead. The two drew off from the rest of the field for a blistering final quarter in 22.34 and seemed to hit the wire in lockstep, though the win photo revealed Rutherienne with her nose in front at the finish. Her final time for the mile over Belmont’s firm Widener turf course was 1:34.34.





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SUMMER BIRD BREEZES FOR JOCKEY CLUB GOLD CUP


ELMONT, N.Y. – Belmont Stakes and Shadwell Travers winner Summer Bird left his connections with wide smiles Saturday morning after a solid workout for his next engagement, the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup October 3 at Belmont Park.

With Hall of Fame rider Kent Desormeaux aboard, the chestnut son of 2004 Belmont and Travers winner Birdstone went onto the main track shortly after the renovation break and breezed five furlongs in 1:00.05, the second-fastest of 15 at the distance.





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Friday, September 18 2009


REUNION, OF SORTS, IN SUNDAY’S JOHN HETTINGER


ELMONT, N.Y. – Sunday marks the inaugural running of the $100,000-added John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares three years old and up going 1⅛-miles over Belmont Park’s inner turf course.

The race name honors the late John Hettinger, a former New York Racing Association Inc. board member and horse advocate who was also a great supporter of breeding and racing in the state. Hettinger died in September 2008. The race also figures as a prep for the $150,000 Ticonderoga at the same distance on New York Showcase Day, October 24.





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SPY IN THE SKY, MIXED UP HEAD LONESOME GLORY ‘CHASE


ELMONT, N.Y. – Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky and William L. Pape’s Mixed Up, winners of the two Grade 1 steeplechase races at Saratoga Race Course this summer, highlight a field of nine for Sunday’s Grade 1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory Steeplechase at Belmont Park.

The 2½-mile race will be run as the first race on Sunday’s 10-race card, which also features the first running of the $100,000-added John Hettinger Stakes for New York-bred fillies and mares.





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