Saturday's 135th Belmont Stakes, featuring Triple Crown hopeful Funny Cide, has enough drama to make it a stand-alone event. It isn't.
Four additional graded stakes, featuring some of racing's leaders horses in three separate divisions, will play the supporting role to the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont. First race post time is 12:00 p.m. Eastern. ESPN will provide coverage from 5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Eastern. Post time for the True North, the first graded stakes race on the day, is 3:52 p.m.
Belmont Park will offer a $1 million guaranteed Pick 6 that begins with the sixth race. A $500,000 guaranteed pick 4 is comprised of races of races eight through 11.
Beat Hollow winner of the 2002 Manhattan Handicap.
Owned by Edmund Gann, Denon is set to square off against 11 others in the 102nd running of the Grade 1, $400,000 Manhattan Handicap. Always a fan favorite, the Manhattan will be run at a mile and a quarter over Belmont's inner turf course. Post time for the Manhattan, race 10 on Saturday's 13-race card, is 5:55 p.m. Denon, one of the nation's leading turf horses last season, drew post 10 as the Manhattan's 122-pound co-highweight with With Anticipation. Overall, the five-year-old Denon has won three Grade 1 races, one of them the 2002 Turf Classic here at Belmont Park.
Having earned more than $1.3 million while racking up victories in the Hollywood Derby, Charlie Whittingham and Turf Classic, Denon has proven he has few equals in the American turf ranks. This son of Pleasant Colony, however, seemed to meet his match last season with a near-white gelding named With Anticipation. That rivalry continues on Saturday.
Denon and With Anticipation met four times last season. Thankfully, there was a photo finish camera on hand. With Anticipation proved best in two tight photos over Denon while winning Monmouth's United Nations and Saratoga's Sword Dancer. Denon, however, countered with a victory over With Anticipation in Belmont's aforementioned Turf Classic. In their last meeting of the season, With Anticipation finished a little more than four lengths in front of Denon in the Breeders' Cup Turf. With Anticipation was a big second behind Euro turf star High Chaparral that afternoon.
Denon enters the Manhattan off a second-place finish to Storming Home in Hollywood Park's Jim Murray nearly four weeks ago. Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, who got his first feel for Denon in the Jim Murray, has the re-ride on Saturday.
"It was a good effort from Denon," Bailey said. "We were beaten by a classy horse that had a good trip. He's a Grade 1 winner on yielding turf. I just hope he can handle the conditions here on Saturday." After continuous rains over the last couple of weeks, there's a good chance Belmont's turf courses will be less than firm on Belmont Stakes Day.
Augustin Stable's With Anticipation, a multiple Grade 1 winner on the Belmont turf, makes his second start of the season in the Manhattan. After earning more than $1.5 million last season, this near-white gelding finished second to Breeders' Cup Turf winner High Chaparral in the voting for the nation's leading turf horse.
With Anticipation was a non-threatening fifth in his eight-year-old debut in Churchill Downs' Woodford Reserve on Kentucky Derby Day. Although his gelding has a good amount of miles on his equine odometer, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard - whose former assistant is Funny Cide's trainer, Barclay Tagg - there are no signs of With Anticipation slowing down.
"I'm delighted with him," Sheppard said. "Our training with him has been hindered a little with the weather, but he's still enthusiastic; he's happy. "I thought he ran well in the Woodford Reserve. He didn't have a prep and he was far back. Win or lose, the Manhattan will get us to the United Nations. I'm going to follow the same exact schedule we had last year."
With Anticipation has run well over turf courses with some "give" in them. Sheppard, however, said he had hoped for firm course for the Manhattan. "He likes a little cut in the ground," Sheppard said. "He doesn't like it very soft or yielding."
On Wednesday morning, With Anticipation breezed an easy five furlongs over Delaware Park's main track in 1:04. "I wanted to give him a sharper work, but the track was a muddy mess," Sheppard said. "The dogs were way out in the middle of the track. The rider got into him a little, but he wasn't asked for much." Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day has the mount.
The Field for Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT 1 With Anticipation Jonathan Sheppard Pat Day 122 2 Requette Bobby Frankel Edgar Prado 116 3 Patrol Bill Mott John Velazquez 114 4 Caesarion Jean de Roualle Richard Migliore 115 5 Shaanmer Christophe Clement Jose Santos 116 6 Dr. Brendler Graham Motion Gary Stevens 116 7 Gritty Sandie Jimmy Toner Jean-Luc Samyn 113 8 Irish Colonial Randy Schulhofer Javier Castellano 114 9 Macaw Barclay Tagg Shaun Bridgmohan 114 10 Denon Bobby Frankel Jerry Bailey 122 11 Honor in War Paul McGee David Flores 117 12ae Evening Attire Pat Kelly 124 13ae State Shinto Kiaran McLaughlin 122 14ae Judge's Case Steve Klesaris 121 15ae Short Hair Rene Araya 116
Gygistar winner of the 2002 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes.
Run at seven furlongs, the $200,000 Riva Ridge attracted a field of eight three-year-olds. Four of them are graded stakes winners. Midas Eyes, a multiple stakes winner, drew post 3 as co-123 pound highweight with Posse, Alysweep and Halo Homewrecker.
Midas Eyes has yet to face the big boys of his division, but he has been impressive nonetheless. A colt by 1997 Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold, he won Gulfstream's Swale by more than nine lengths before easily winning Churchill's Grade 3 Derby Trial.
Last Sunday, Midas Eyes worked six furlongs over Belmont's main track in 1:12 4/5. Bailey was aboard for the move. "I'm expecting him to run really well," Bailey said on Wednesday morning. "I don't know how he'll handle an off track, but he's got a lot of class." Midas Eyes finished second in his debut last August at Calder but has won three straight since.
The Field For Saturday's Grade 2 Riva Ridge PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT 1 Battle Won Frank Brothers Willie Martinez 117 2 Bishop Court Hill Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 117 3 Midas Eyes Bobby Frankel Jerry Bailey 123 4 Midnight Charlie Leah Gyarmati H. Castillo Jr. 117 5 Posse Steve Asmussen Cory Lanerie 123 6 Epic Richard Dutrow Jr. Mike Luzzi 115 7 Alysweep Pat Reynolds Jorge Chavez 123 8 Halo Homewrecker Mark Hennig Gary Stevens 123
Yonaguska winner of the 2002 True North Handicap.
Since shipping to the United States in early spring, State City has recorded six published workouts. This is his first start outside the United Arab Emirates. "Every horse is different, but after a few weeks in this country they start doing better," assistant trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He seems to have acclimated well. I don't think the ship over from Dubai is so bad when you're only going one way. It appears to take something out of the U.S. horses that come over for World Cup night because they have to ship over and back in a short amount of time."
There is no wagering in Dubai, but if there were, State City would've been a big price in the Golden Shaheen. That night he faced a bulky field of Group 1 quality sprinters, one that included U.S. horses Avanzado, My Cousin Matt and Captain Squire. Prior to the Golden Shaheen, State City hadn't been much of a factor in a trio of group efforts. "I think he's always been a nice horse," Albertrani said. "He's always had potential; everything came together on World Cup night. Of course, he's still got to prove himself over here. He's ready to run."
Trainer Frank Monteleone is looking forward to saddling Giovannetti in the True North. A California-bred gelding, Giovannetti was scheduled to arrive in New York on Thursday. Most recently, the Memo gelding finished a stubborn third to Hombre Rapido in Hollywood Park's Grade 3 Los Angeles Times on May 10th. "I had ran him two weeks apart in February and March and we planned on giving him more time off than we did," Monteleone said. "Believe me, I hadn't done much with him before the race."
A $20,000 claim by Monteleone and owner Bernard Schiappa last September, Giovannetti has compiled a 5-1-1 record from eight starts. A gelding that usually shades a half mile in :43 and change, he has won a pair of listed stakes. "I actually trained his older brother Rio Oro. He won a few stakes for us and a lot of money," Monteleone said. "We thought $20,000 for him looked a little suspicious, but the owner is a Vegas card dealer; he's a gambler. We took a shot."
Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens has the mount on Giovannetti. They will play part of the pace on Saturday. "He gets real brave when he makes the lead," Monteleone said. "Good luck to anyone that tries to run with him early."
The Field For Saturday's Grade 2 True North PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT 1 State City Saeed bin Suroor Jerry Bailey 121 2a Highway Prospector Mark Shuman Jose Santos 115 3a Pioneer Boy John Robb Rick Wilson 115 4 Giovannetti Frank Monteleone Gary Stevens 115 5 Here's Zealous Richard Dutrow Jr. Edgar Prado 114 6 Vodka John Hertler H. Castillo Jr. 112 7 Shake You Down Scott Lake Mike Luzzi 118
Babae winner of the 2002 Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap.
The Field for Saturday's Grade 3 Just A Game PP HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT 1 Love n' Kiss S. Christophe Clement Pat Day 114 2 Repository D. Wayne Lukas Gary Stevens 114 3 Wonder Again Jimmy Toner Edgar Prado 119 4 Carib Lady Todd Pletcher Jerry Bailey 115 5a Cozzy Corner Pat Kelly Shaun Bridgmohan 112 6b Voodoo Dancer Christophe Clement Jose Santos 119 7 Silver Rail Linda Rice Eibar Coa 113 8 Delta Princess Bill Mott Mike Luzzi 117 9b Mariensky Christophe Clement Jose Santos 116 10a Riskaverse Pat Kelly John Velazquez 119 11 Lady of the Future Tom Greene Jorge Chavez 113 12 Quick Blue Linda Rice Jean-Luc Samyn 113 13ae Smok'n Frolic Todd Pletcher 123 14ae Raging Fever Mark Hennig 123 15ae Vespers Shug McGaughey 116
From a NYRA press release.
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