Entering today’s card, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin holds a tenuous 16-15 lead over Todd Pletcher in the standings. McLaughlin has entered two today as he seeks his first Spa leading trainer title, while six-time Saratoga leader Pletcher has four set to go to post.
McLaughlin and Pletcher are good friends and both were former assistants to Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
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Trainer Steve Klesaris reported Sunday morning that undefeated Mani Bhavan, 1¼-length winner of Sunday’s Grade 1 Spinaway, came out of the race in “super shape.”
“She looked really good this morning,” he said.
The undefeated two-year-old daughter of Storm Boot, 2-for-2 at the Spa with a victory in the Grade 2 Adirondack on August 13, is scheduled to depart Saratoga this evening to return to Klesaris’ home base at Delaware Park, where she broke her maiden on July 12.
“No decision has been made about her next start,” said the trainer.
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Belmont Park’s 38-day Fall Championship begins on Friday, September 5 with first-race post at 1 p.m. General admission on Opening Day is free and there will be $2 off clubhouse admission as well.
First race post time is 1 p.m.
There are three stakes races at Belmont Park on the weekend.
Saturday, September 6, there will be a pair of Grade 1 stakes races featuring fillies and mares, as well as a Belmont Park long-sleeved T-shirt giveaway with each paid admission, while supplies last.
The superstar on the day will be Hal J. Earnhardt’s Indian Blessing, who figures to be a heavy favorite in the $300,000 Ruffian Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth. While she has been a speed-burner in the past, Indian Blessing demonstrated the ability to rate in her last two races, winning the Grade 1 Prioress in the mud at Belmont Park on July 5 and taking Saratoga’s Grade 1 Test on August 7. She has won seven of nine career starts for trainer Bob Baffert with two seconds, and has won two of three starts at Belmont Park.
Expected to challenge her are Phipps’ Stable’s 2007 Test runner-up Boca Grande, Millennium Farms’ Copper State, who ran second to Ginger Punch in the Grade 1 Go for Wand at Saratoga, Stronach Stable’s Grade 2 winner Spring Waltz, Darley Stable’s Stage Luck, winner of Aqueduct’s Affectionately Handicap, and another Baffert charge, Karl Watson’s Tough Tiz’s Sis, who was second to Zenyatta in the Grade 1 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park.
Also on Saturday’s card at Belmont Park will be the $250,000 Garden City for three-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the inner turf course.
Likely here are Shadwell Stable’s Alwajeeha, the IEAH Stables’ Ariege and Pure Clan, Lael Stable’s My Princess Jess, Darley Stable’s Raw Silk and Gary A. Tanaka’s Shaker (IRE).
Ariege won the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel to begin a three-race winning streak, with her latest triumph coming in the Madame Jumel at Saratoga on August 9.
My Princess Jess is also riding a three-race win streak. Trained by Barclay Tagg, she is coming off a three-quarter length victory over Alwajeeha in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Lake George on July 25.
Pure Clan has won two in a row for trainer Robert Holthus and got her Grade 1 victory in Hollywood Park’s American Oaks on July 5.
Raw Silk won the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park on May 31, and Shaker will be making her United States debut in the Garden City after racing in her native Ireland and in Great Britain for trainer Michael Bell.
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Next Sunday, September 7, Belmont Park will host the $100,000-added Schenectady Handicap for New York-bred fillies and mares, 3 and up, at six furlongs.
Castle Village Farm’s Just Zip It, Hibiscus Stable’s Salt Water Reign, Dogwood Stable’s Street Sass and Michael Pegram’s Under Serviced are expected. Questionable are Light Tactic, Precise Lady and Western Sweep.
Under Serviced, a Baffert-trained daughter of Hook and Ladder, has won three of four career starts and won at seven furlongs at Saratoga on August 4.
Sunday will also mean free grandstand admission and $2 off clubhouse admission on the day. Additionally, Sunday will start the popular “Pick the Pros and Ponies” contest. It’s a free contest in which contestants must correctly pick the winners of four designated National Football League games as well as the winners of races 3 and 5 on the day’s card for the chance to win a $1,000 prize.
All entries must be turned in by 1 p.m.