• Wedding Toast impresses McLaughlin barn; Turnback the Alarm likely target
• NYRA Rewards bettor hits Wednesday Pick 6 after investing $5,400
• Initial Belmont - Penn National Thursday Pick 4 returns $8,348.40 for a 50-cent wager
• Dance to Bristol heads probables for G2 Gallant Bloom Handicap
In his most recent start, Awesome Vision won the Saratoga Sunrise overnight stakes by one-length over Bigger Is Bettor on August 16 at Saratoga Race Course. The outcome reversed the form of the Evan Shipman, in which Bigger Is Bettor defeated Awesome Vision by a head.
Despite Awesome Vision's top dirt form, trainer Tom Albertrani believes the time is right for the 4-year-old to test the turf. Depending on how Awesome Vision fares on Sunday, he likely will make his next start in either the $250,000 Empire Classic on the dirt or the $200,000 Mohawk on the turf on October 19, New York Showcase Day presented by The New York Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund.
"It had always been in the back of our minds to try him on the turf one day," said Albertrani. "He has been running well on the dirt, but we felt there were maybe a few races in which he was spinning his wheels. We thought this would be a good time to try him [on the turf], and maybe it would open some options for him."
Awesome Vision has trained exclusively on the dirt, but that won't deter Albertrani from taking a shot in the Ashley T. Cole.
"He has never been on the grass. Hopefully, he takes to it," said Albertrani. "This looks like a good spot to try him. On form, it looks like he'll be very competitive. If he handles it fine, he should be very tough. We're pretty optimistic. The horse is doing well. We'll see what happens."
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Darley Stable homebred Wedding Toast may have earned her way to stakes company following a 14 ½-length romp in her first try against winners to open Wednesday's card at Belmont.
Favored at 3-5 in a field of five that included graded stakes-placed Cue the Moon, Wedding Toast was in front at every call, taking a nine-length lead at the top of the stretch and drawing away with little urging from jockey Javier Castellano.
"It's exciting to think about where to go next," said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "You always start looking at graded stakes right away, but it's only her third start. That's for Kiaran and [Darley president] Jimmy Bell to think about and decide. There's plenty of time."
On Friday, McLaughlin confirmed via text message that Wedding Toast, a 3-year-old, likely will make her next start against older fillies and mares in the Grade 3, $200,000 Turnback the Alarm on October 26.
A daughter of multiple Grade 1 winner Street Sense, Wedding Toast traveled one mile in 1:34.06 for her second consecutive victory, following a 2 ½-length maiden triumph at Saratoga on July 29, which came at 1 1/8 miles.
"We did expect her to run well, but even we were surprised at that," said Magnuson. "She's a very nice filly. Javier, as expected, couldn't say enough about her, and she's mentally acting better and better.
"She's more relaxed in the gate. The gate crew has done a great job," he added. "We've worked a lot with getting her to settle around the gate, and it's going the right way. She's just starting her career, but she looks like a good one."
Each of Wedding Toast's three starts has come against older horses, including a runner-up finish in her debut June 19 at Belmont.
"It's exciting to have a filly like that in the barn, it really is, and we don't take it for granted," Magnuson said. "You just try to keep them happy. I was happy to see when I came in [the next] morning how happy she was and that she ate all her dinner, so we can give Kiaran and Jimmy a good report."
Team McLaughlin had another sharp winner on Wednesday with first-time starter Princess Adelyn, a 3-year-old Tale of the Cat filly who chased favored pacesetter So Royal before taking over at the sixteenth pole to hit the wire 1 ¼ lengths in front of closer I'm Smokin Hot in a $40,000 maiden claiming race at six furlongs on the turf.
Owned by Ginger Punch Racing, Princess Adelyn ran six furlongs on the inner turf course in 1:10.74, paying $21.80 for a $2 win bet.
"The [owners] have been very patient, so we were happy for them," said Magnuson. "She's a 3-year-old and just getting going now, and they've been nothing but patient. It's worked out very well for everybody. At the eighth pole, I was just thinking about them and all the time they've put in, if she can just keep going to the wire. She might even be a little bit better than that, hopefully."
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The NYRA Rewards customer who on Wednesday hit Belmont's Pick 6 for $423,424 spent a total of $5,400 on two tickets, according to data provided by the NYRA mutuels department.
The winning ticket cost $1,200 and was constructed as follows:
1st leg- 2, 6, 7 (winner, 27-1), 8, 9, 13
2nd leg- 3, 4, 6 (winner, 9-2), 7, 9
3rd leg- 7 (winner, 5-2)
4th leg- 1, 2, 4 (winner, 9-1), 5, 9
5th leg- 1, 4, 5 (winner, 6-1), 7
6th leg- 10 (winner, 4-1)
He also played the following ticket for $4,200:
1st leg- 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13
2nd leg- 3, 4, 6, 7, 9
3rd leg- 7
4th leg- 1, 2, 4, 5, 9
5th leg- 1, 4, 5, 7
6th leg- 1, 4, 5
His single was the only winning favorite in the sequence: My Place, a first-time starter in race 6 who prevailed under Javier Castellano for trainer Bill Mott. The winners of the first and fourth legs, Summerdale and Princess Adelyn, also were first-time starters.
The four horses the winning bettor used in the final leg were the top four finishers in the race, with the 10-5-4-1 superfecta returning $25.55 for a 10-cent wager.
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The initial Belmont - Penn National Thursday Pick 4 was offered yesterday and returned $8,358.40 for a winning 50-cent wager. Total handle was a robust $59,000.50.
The 50-cent base wager, which links the final two races at Belmont Park and the first two at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, carries a reduced takeout of 15% and is offered each Thursday through October 24.
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Next Saturday, Belmont Park will present the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom Handicap, which is expected to attract a deep, competitive field of filly and mare sprinters. Heading the probables for the 6 ½-furlong dash is Susan H. Wantz's Dance to Bristol, who has won seven straight, including the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Handicap at Belmont and Saratoga's Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap in July and the Grade 1 Ballerina on August 23. Cluster of Stars and Dance Card are slated to return from lengthy layoffs in the Gallant Bloom, and they're likely to take on Classic Point, Holiday Soiree, Lighthouse Bay, Livi Mackenzie, and Munnings Sister. Willet and Winning Image are possible.