ELMONT, N.Y. – Mother Nature has wreaked havoc with the Belmont fall meet, and she may be saving her strongest punch for closing weekend.
A nor’easter is forecast for Saturday, with all-day rain and winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusts around 40 mph. Five of the 10 races on the penultimate card of the meet are scheduled for turf, including the $100,000 English Channel Stakes for 3-year-olds and the $100,000 Awad for 2-year-olds, both run at one mile.
If the English Channel stays on turf, Therapist is the horse to beat. Therapist is 3 for 3 over Belmont’s turf courses and is 3 for 4 in his career at one mile. Trainer Christophe Clement felt Therapist had a difficult trip when he finished seventh of nine in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga on Sept. 1.
Clement is concerned that the turf could be too soft on Saturday.
“He prefers good to firm turf,” Clement said. “He cannot handle soft turf.”
Trainer Tim Hills has the same concern with Sand Dancer, second to Have At It in the Grade 2 Hill Prince here on Oct. 6. The turf course was listed as “good” that day, and Hills said if the race stays on turf, he will run.
“He handled it well,” Hills said. “I think he got beat by a better horse.”
Golden Brown won the Grade 3 Kent Stakes at Delaware Park, beating Carrick, who came back to win the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park. Trainer Pat McBurney said Golden Brown was a bit rank early in the Hill Prince before finishing sixth.
Since Golden Brown won his maiden in the slop at Parx in February, McBurney said he likely would run if the race is moved to a wet main track.
Trainer Butch Reid would like to see the race come off the turf for Smooth B, who on Sept. 9 won a second-level allowance at Parx by 6 1/4 lengths in the slop. Reid trained two full siblings to Smooth B – Fat Kat and Pink Princess – who were multiple winners over wet tracks.
Mo Diddley, a New York-bred son of Uncle Mo, is entered to run only on the main track. Two starts back, he won a second-level New York-bred allowance by 5 3/4 lengths in the slop.
Order and Law in Awad
The connections of Order and Law, winner of the Laurel Futurity, were hopeful of running their horse in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf next Friday at Churchill Downs. But in a race that oversubscribed, Order and Law was positioned five deep on the preference list for the Juvenile Turf, making it unlikely that he’d get in.
The Awad Stakes is Plan B, and trainer Louis Linder Jr. said he plans to run Order and Law whether it remains on the turf or is transferred to the dirt.
“He’ll probably be a better grass horse, but this early in his career, he’ll run on anything,” Linder said.
Order and Law debuted in the off-the-turf Tyro Stakes at Monmouth and finished fourth, beaten four lengths. He came back to finish second in a maiden dirt race at Parx and the won the Laurel Futurity, a six-furlong turf race, by a nose.
Linder said that in the Tyro, Order and Law “had the 1 hole, the mud hit him, surprised him, and he got a little far back.”
“Once he got outside, he made that huge run, and we realized he would run on it,” Linder said.
A Thread of Blue is also likely to run regardless of surface, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. A Thread of Blue finished second to next-out stakes winner Current in a maiden turf race at Belmont on Sept. 8, then came back to win an off-the-turf maiden race by two lengths on Oct. 7.
Empire of War, another horse buried on the preference list for the Juvenile Turf, would be tough if the Awad stays on turf.
Till Then, Kentucky Wildcat, and Good Good are entered only for the main track.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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