ELMONT, N.Y. – Thursday’s $85,000 allowance feature at Belmont Park is a stakes-caliber race regardless of whether it is run on the turf, as scheduled, or moved to the dirt, as is possible.
March, a six-month layoff not withstanding, has proven himself a stakes-caliber horse on either surface.
March, who hasn’t run since finishing third in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf on March 3, returns as a gelding in this multi-conditioned allowance scheduled for 1 1/16 miles. Only five horses were entered for the turf and one, Black Tide, is likely to scratch after winning Sunday’s $125,000 Ashley T. Cole Handicap. Control Group and Rocky Tough were designated for the main track only.
March won the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct and Grade 2 Woody Stephens at Belmont as a 3-year-old. Late in that campaign, he came within a head of winning the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby on turf. Myriad infirmities have limited him to just six starts over the last three seasons.
March, now 6, was gelded following the Canadian “to take a little weight off him and add to his longevity,” said trainer Jonathan Thomas, who said March is a barn favorite and is likely going to be his stable pony when his racing career ends.
Thomas said he was not necessarily pointing to this race, but when it came up he opted to enter him.
“The horse historically has really run well off the bench,” said Thomas, noting he won a 1 1/16-mile allowance race last December at Gulfstream off a 10-month layoff.
With Black Tide expected to scratch, Blacktype could play out as the primary speed in the race. Blacktype, a 7-year-old trained by Christophe Clement, has won three starts over Belmont’s turf course, including last year’s Grade 2 Knickerbocker.
Profiteer drops in class after running seventh in the Grade 1 United Nations. Night Prowler goes first off the claim for Dermot Magner, who has done well with limited starters.
March, by Blame
Last 3 Beyers: 93-97-89
◗ Over the last three years, Thomas is 5 for 16 with a $2.80 ROI bringing horses back off a layoff greater than 180 days. Two of those wins came on turf during the Belmont spring-summer meet.
◗ Figures live on dirt should the race be run on that surface.
Blacktype, by Dunkerque
Last 3 Beyers: 89-92-95
◗ A Belmont horse for course with five wins from 13 starts here, including an allowance win in July.
◗ Most recently, he finished fifth in the Lure Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 11.
“I thought he ran a touch below form in Saratoga,” Clement said. “Was disappointed, because he had a nice race at Belmont before that. He’s an older horse. The same old question: Can you get him back to his prime? He seems to be doing well since he got back from Saratoga.”
Profiteer, by War Front
Last 3 Beyers: 93-98-95
◗ Drop in class, return to Belmont where he is 2 for 3, and jockey switch to Jose Ortiz all point to him being live.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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