Thursday, October 16, 2014

Belmont Park celebrates the Empire State on Saturday

The New York Racing Association, Inc.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Contact: NYRA Press Office

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Belmont Park celebrates the Empire State on Saturday


ELMONT, N.Y. - More than 100 New York-breds will gather for a unique 11-race card at Belmont Park to celebrate the best of New York for the annual Empire Showcase Day.


In addition to eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, anchored by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap, Empire Showcase Day will offer an array of New York-produced foods through Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Taste NY initiative and a wide variety of outdoor activities that the entire family can enjoy. Gates will open at 11:00 am, with the first race scheduled for 12:20 pm.

A field of nine is entered in the Empire Classic, in which defending champion Saratoga Snacks is the 2-1 favorite to give Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott his second victory in the 1 1/8-mile race.


Owned by NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcell's August Dawn Farm, Saratoga Snacks came off an 11-week layoff to score a three-quarter length victory over Bigger is Bettor last year in the Empire Classic. It was the Tale of the Cat ridgling's second appearance in the race while in the care of trainer Gary Sciacca, having finished second to the Mott-trained Lunar Victory in the 2012 edition.


The 5-year-old Saratoga Snacks has made two starts since joining Mott's barn earlier this year, finishing fourth behind winner Weekend Hideaway in the John Morrissey at Saratoga Race Course off a seven-month break and then sixth, beaten three lengths,after an eventful trip in a one-mile allowance on September 20.


Saratoga Snacks will carry 118 pounds, including jockey Joel Rosario, when he leaves from post position 2.


Among the chief challengers to Saratoga Snacks will be Peachtree Stable's Sioux, who has won both his 2014 starts by a combined margin of 15 lengths. The 3-year-old Awesome Again colt will be making his stakes debut in the Empire Classic, having beaten his elders in a seven-furlong allowance on August 9 at Saratoga and in a one-mile optional claimer on September 28 at Belmont.


Jose Ortiz will ride the Mike Hushion trainee, 5-2 on the morning line, from post position 8.


Also expected to attract support is West Point Thoroughbreds' entry of Empire Dreams and Awesome Vision. Empire Dreams, who won the New York Derby in July at Finger Lakes, next finished off the board for the first time in five starts this year when seventh in the Albany, while Awesome Vision was fifth facing open company in the Temperence Hill last time out.


Rounding out the field for the Empire Classic, which will be run as race 8, are Sinistra, Beautyinthepulpit, Effinex, So Lonesome, and Eye Luv Lulu.


Hard-hitting turfers King Kreesa (9-5) and Lubash (2-1) will renew their long-simmering rivalry in the $200,000 Mohawk at 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf for 3-year-olds and up. The two have faced each other twice this year and have one win apiece, with King Kreesa taking the West Point by a head and Lubash winning the Ashley T. Cole by a neck.

King Kreesa, who emerged victorious in last year's Mohawk by 1 ¼ lengths over Lubash, got a late start to his 2014 campaign but picked up right where he left off in 2013. After contesting the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Mile on December 8, the 5-year-old gelding was not seen on the track again until August 24 at Saratoga Race Course, when he dug in grimly to defeat Lubash in the West Point. In his second and most recent start, the son of King Cugat led nearly the whole way before getting caught late by Lubash in the Ashley T. Cole on September 14 at Belmont.

Trained by Christophe Clement for Aliyu Ben J Stables, the 7-year-old Lubash has shown no signs of slowing down in 2014. The son of Freud has raced five times and has not finished outside of the exacta, with three wins and two seconds to his credit.

Completing the field are Kharafa, Analysis, Captain Gaughen, Ocala Jim, Notacatbutallama and Front. Harbor King and Saturday Appeal are entered for the main track only.

Multiple stakes winner Weekend Hideaway, who endured a rough trip when seventh in the in Grade 1 Forego last time out, returns to state-bred company as the 5-2 favorite in the $150,000 Hudson Handicap, scheduled as race 10. Trained by Phil Serpe, Weekend Hideaway is 2-1-2 from seven starts this year, including a victory in the John Morrissey at Saratoga.


Jose Lezcano will ride Weekend Hideaway, who carries 121 pounds, from post position 4.


Noble Cornerstone (3-1), an allowance winner last time out, and Grade 1 Forego runner up Big Business (7-2), the starting highweight at 122 pounds, head the remaining 10 contenders, which include Chapman, West Hills Giant, Sandy'z Slew, Moonlight Song, John's Island, Laila's Jazz and Captain Serious.


Sensational sprinter La Verdad (7-5) will try to carry her speed seven furlongs in the $150,000 Iroquois for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Trained by Linda Rice and owned by Lady Sheila Stable, La Verdad got off to a hot start in 2014, winning five of her first six races before finishing fifth in a pair of graded stakes at Saratoga Race Course. In her most recent outing - the Grade 2, 6 ½-furlong Gallant Bloom Handicap on September 20 at Belmont - the bay filly bounced back to set a scorching pace and appear home free at the top of the stretch, only to be passed by Grade 1 Ballerina winner Artemis Agrotera in the shadow of the wire.

La Verdad's chief competition will come from the late-running Willet, who finished third by a length in the Gallant Bloom. The 6-year-old mare, trained by Jimmy Iselin, has been in sharp form in 2014. The daughter of Jump Start finished second in the Dancin Renee, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by La Verdad, to kick off her year, then won an allowance race by four lengths and finished third in the Ballerina before mounting a late charge in the Gallant Bloom.

Rounding out the field are Capella Dancer, Make the Moment, Kimmies Lucky Star, Irish Whisper, Risky Rachel, Cape Cod Carol and Champagne Ruby.

Grade 1 winner Discreet Marq (8-5) heads a deep field of turfers in the 1 1/16-mile, $200,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up.

Discreet Marq, a 4-year-old daughter of Discreet Cat trained by Christophe Clement, is winless in 2014, but takes a considerable drop in class after contesting the Grade 1 First Lady on October 4 at Keeneland Race Course. The gray/roan filly has also finished second in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley, fourth in the Grade 1 Just a Game, and third in the Grade 1 Diana this year. In 2013, the Patricia Generazio color-bearer took the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks by a half-length.

Invading Humor (7-2) brings a four-race win streak into the Ticonderoga for trainer Bruce Levine and Bloodlines Racing Partnerships. The dark bay or brown filly most recently won the 1 1/8-mile John Hettinger on September 14 at Belmont.

Rounding out the field are Selenite, Chrysolite, Mah Jong Maddnes, Run to Mama, Palace Dreams, Strike Accord, One Time Only, Old Harbor, Effie Trinket and Stock Fund.

The $250,000 Empire Distaff, for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 1/16 miles on the main track, will feature a contentious field headed by Grade 1 Mother Goose runner-up Princess Violet, the 5-2 morning-line favorite.

Princess Violet, trained by Mike Hushion for Barry Schwartz, began her career on March 16 at Gulfstream Park. Three starts later, she finished second to Untapable in the Mother Goose at Belmont. Subsequently, the 3-year-old filly by Officer has finished seventh in the Grade 2 Prioress and won a 6 ½-furlong allowance race by four lengths.

Trainer Mitchell Friedman will send out the entry of Dreaming of Cara and Carameaway, both owned by Richard Greeley. Dreaming of Cara finished second in the 1 1/8-mile Saratoga Dew in her last start on dirt, while Carameaway won a statebred allowance by 4 ½ lengths in her latest outing.

The field will also feature Sunny Desert, a talented daughter of Wild Desert who has won eight of 17 career starts. In her most recent outing, the chestnut mare finished fifth, 9 ¼ lengths behind Carameaway in an allowance race.

Pennymine, Flipcup, Lady Gracenote, Storied Lady, Tahoe Tigress, Star Grazing and Unbelievable Dream complete the field.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, known for his battalion of skilled 2-year olds, will send out Ostrolenka (7-5) and Bullheaded Boy (7-2) in the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow at one mile on the dirt.  


In his second start, Ostrolenka broke his maiden by an impressive 14 lengths on a fast track on September 28 at Belmont. A bay son of Musket Man, Ostrolenka will leave from post position 2 with Hall of Famer John Velazquez aboard.


Bullheaded Boy, no worse than third in his three starts, comes to the race off a second-place finish after a troubled trip in the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes on September 21. Jose Ortiz will ride from post position 3.


Also in the field is the Rudy Rodriguez-trained Good Luck Gus (3-1), winner of the New York Breeders' Futurity at Finger Lakes, along with Thank You, Breakin the Fever, Market Conduct, and Bellamy Way



In the Sleepy Hollow's sister race, the $250,000 Maid of the Mist for fillies, Temper Mint Patty is favored at 8-5 off two victories in as many starts, including an off-track win in the Joseph A. Gimma stakes on September 21.


Irad Ortiz Jr. retains the mount as the pair break from the far outside post in a field of 9.


Rounding out the field are Hard to Stay Not Go, Lady Bling, Dunn Listening, Myfourchix, Sweetpollypurebrd, Quezon, Sandra, and Serious Happiness.







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