ELMONT, N.Y. – The turf courses at Belmont Park were labeled firm on Wednesday for the first time all meet, and at least for three days – before a nor’easter is forecast to hit here Saturday – there shouldn’t be any issues with running races on the grass.
Trainer Jonathan Thomas is hoping the turf is “as firm as possible” Friday when he sends out Orecchiette in the featured second-level allowance race scheduled for six furlongs over the inner turf course. Thomas scratched Orecchiette out of the Floral Park Stakes here Oct. 13 due to soft turf.
Thomas said the course “didn’t dry out enough for us to think that was going to be to her benefit. The last couple of weeks, it’s been so deep and has compromised speed. We didn’t want to take that risk.”
Orecchiette has won her last three starts over Belmont’s turf, including a 2 1/4-length first-level allowance win over good ground on Sept. 8, the second day of the meet.
Orecchiette will break from the outside post under Javier Castellano in what figures to be a nine-horse field after four horses entered to run on the main track will scratch.
The 7-year-old mare Rumble Doll was claimed from Robert Falcone Jr. for $62,500 by Danny Gargan on Aug. 20 at Saratoga. But Robert Falcone Sr., the owner of Rumble Doll, bought the filly back as he intends to breed her next year. Before then, the Falcones hope to run her a time or two, beginning in this spot.
Rumble Doll lacked running room in the stretch of her last start when second to Miss Gossip.
“When you have a dead closer going 5 1/2 [furlongs] and you make up all that ground and at the sixteenth pole you have to stand up on her, I definitely think she should have won,” Falcone Jr. said.
Sister Sophia, second in this condition last out, and Quality Time, a first-level allowance winner at Presque Isle Downs last out, also are contenders in this spot.
Go Astray, Tanya’s Gem, Closer Still, Bloody Point, and Annie Rocks complete the field for turf.
Orecchiette, by Harlan’s Holiday
Last 3 Beyers: 86-84-81
◗ Has won three of her last four, with the lone loss coming in a stakes over yielding turf at Suffolk Downs. She would prefer firm ground and could be the primary speed under Castellano.
Rumble Doll, by Street Boss
Last 3 Beyers: 85-83-73
◗ Hard-trying mare was unlucky last time, unable to find room in the stretch at Saratoga. Bought back by connections who lost her for $62,500, she likely has one or two more starts before being bred next year.
Sister Sophia, by Tale of the Cat
Last 3 Beyers: 84-84-76
◗ Beaten favorite when second in this condition here over yielding ground. Late-runner figures to come flying late.
Quality Time, by Exceed and Excel
Last 3 Beyers: 82-81-84
◗ Returns to turf and to Belmont Park after winning an allowance at Presque Ise Downs last out. Finished one length behind Sister Sophia when third in this same condition here Sept. 14.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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