Cindy's Horse Racing Website Index

Belmont Undercard Preview

Date: 06/05/2003


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.

Manhattan Handicap

Beat Hollow winner of the 2002 Manhattan Handicap.
Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel has won just about every important stakes race in New York. A year ago, he nailed his first Manhattan Handicap title thanks to the brilliant front-running efforts of Beat Hollow. After entering Denon in Saturday's Manhattan, Frankel will be odds on to win second Manhattan Handicap in as many years.

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

All Eyes on Midas Eyes in Riva Ridge

Gygistar winner of the 2002 Riva Ridge Breeders' Cup Stakes.
Trainer Bobby Frankel, jockey Jerry Bailey and Empire Maker have the best chance of upending Funny Cide's Triple Crown bid in the Belmont Stakes. Some 90 minutes before the Belmont, however, Frankel and Bailey will team up with another immensely talented three-year-old named Midas Eyes in the Grade 2 Riva Ridge.

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

Contenders From All Over Shipping in for True North

Yonaguska winner of the 2002 True North Handicap.
Godolphin Racing's State City, upset winner of Dubai's $2 million Golden Shaheen in March, is set to make his stateside debut in the Grade 2, $250,000 True North Handicap at six furlongs. State City, a son of Carson City, carries top weight of 121 pounds under Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey. He drew the rail.

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

East's Best Turf Females Meet in the Just A Game

Babae winner of the 2002 Just A Game Breeders' Cup Handicap.
Wonder Again, Delta Princess and Voodoo Dancer, the top three finishers in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Beaugay on May 3rd, square off again in Saturday's Just A Game. Grade 1 winner Riskaverse, a game winner in her four-year-old debut, was also entered. The Just A Game is a Grade 3, $200,000-added race is run at a mile over the Widener Turf Course.

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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