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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JUVENILE CHAMP MIDSHIPMAN TRIUMPHANT IN RETURN


ELMONT, N.Y. – Eclipse Champion Midshipman made a successful 3-year-old debut Friday afternoon at Belmont Park, coming from just off the pace and drawing clear to a 3¼-length victory over Just Ben in a 6½-furlong optional claiming race, which marked his first start over conventional dirt.

Owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable, the son of Unbridled’s Song was making his first start since taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park last October, which capped a four-race California campaign that resulted in his being voted the nation’s top 2-year-old male.





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BELMONT PARK NOTES: Friday, September 18, 2009


ELMONT, N.Y. – Belmont Stakes and Shadwell Travers winner Summer Bird will work five furlongs after the break Saturday morning on Belmont Park’s main track with Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard as he continues preparations for the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on Super Saturday, October 3.

Trainer Tim Ice said the handsome chestnut son of 2004 Belmont Stakes and Travers winner Birdstone has adjusted very quickly to his return to Belmont Park.





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Thursday, September 17 2009


RUTHERIENNE LOOKS TO BE FAIREST OF ALL IN NOBLE DAMSEL


ELMONT, N.Y. – Seven older fillies and mares will take to the turf Saturday in the 22nd running of the Grade 3, $100,000-added Noble Damsel going a mile over Belmont Park’s Widener Turf course.

Heading the field is Virginia Kraft Payson’s Rutherienne, looking to bounce back off a head loss to longshot Salve Germania (IRE) in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa Handicap on the Shadwell Travers Day undercard at Saratoga Race Course August 29.





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D’FUNNYBONE GETS SERIOUS IN FUTURITY; WORSTCASESCENARIO HOPING FOR BEST IN MATRON


ELMONT, N.Y. – At the time, the comparisons were inevitable. In 2007, there was 2-year-old Big Brown romping to an 11¼-length maiden win for owner Paul Pompa, Jr., on Saratoga’s turf course; this year, it was D’Funnybone carrying Pompa’s colors as he rolled to a 10½-length score in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

For Pompa, who had purchased Big Brown for $190,000 as a 2-year-old, and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr., who would go on to saddle Big Brown to victories in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for Pompa and IEAH Stable, similarities mean very little at this stage. But that could change after Saturday’s 120th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Futurity at Belmont Park, in which the son of D’wildcat is the 6-5 favorite over seven other 2-year-old colts.





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MIDSHIPMAN’S RETURN HEADLINES BELMONT PARK FRIDAY CARD


ELMONT, N.Y. – The eagerly anticipated 3-year-old debut of Eclipse Champion Midshipman will occur Friday, September 18 in the third race at Belmont Park, a conditioned allowance that represents his first start over a conventional dirt track.

Midshipman, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable, capped off a stellar four-race juvenile campaign last year with an impressive 1-1/2 length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita Park on October 25. The Saeed bin Suroor trainee, who also won the Del Mar Futurity, was subsequently named Eclipse Award Champion 2-year-old Colt.





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Monday, September 14 2009


GRAND COUTURIER BOWLS ‘EM OVER IN BOWLING GREEN


ELMONT, N.Y. – Grand Couturier rewarded his connections’ confidence with a rousing last-to-first victory Sunday at Belmont Park to take the 51st running of the Grade 2, $158,000 Bowling Green Handicap and snap a four-race losing streak.

Sent off as the favorite by the crowd of 5,635, the 6-year-old son of Grand Lodge trailed the field through early fractions of 22.95, 46.57 and 1:13.42 set by longshot Up to No Good, then barreled four-wide on the turn to move into contention, taking over in midstretch and pulling off to a two-length victory over Winchester.





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