Belmont Titles Down To Wire


Ramon Dominguez went into the final four days of racing here with a 64-62 lead over Javier Castellano in the battle for leading rider at the meet, a title that likely won’t be decided until closing day.

Dominguez and Castellano both ride in 16 of the 18 races scheduled over Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, Dominguez is at Delaware Park to ride Havre de Grace in the $750,000 Delaware Handicap, while Castellano has mounts in all 10 races at Belmont.

The race for leading trainer and owner are equally as tight.

Todd Pletcher leads Linda Rice by two, 24-22, but Rice has runners in 15 of the 28 races from Thursday to Saturday, while Pletcher has horses in just six of those races.

Flying Zee Stables maintains a two-win margin over both Michael Dubb and Winning Move. Flying Zee, whose patriarch Carl Lizza Jr. died July 8, has one runner in Friday and six horses entered in five races Saturday. Winning Move is in five races over Thursday and Friday but has nothing entered Saturday.


Mike Hushion truly didn’t know what to expect when he ran Gantry in a first-level allowance race at Belmont Park on June 23. After all, Gantry, a 4-year-old gelding, had not run in 227 days, never raced on grass, or faced anything but maidens.

So when Gantry won the six-furlong turf race by 3 1/2 lengths and set a Belmont Park inner turf course record by running the distance in 1:06.87, yes, Hushion was surprised.

“All I knew going in was he was doing really good and he had trained well on the turf at Palm Meadows,” Hushion said. “After that, I only made believe I knew.”

Hushion now hopes that performance wasn’t a fluke as he will bring Gantry back in 23 days in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Jaipur Stakes at seven furlongs on the Widener turf. The Jaipur, the last graded event of the Belmont spring/summer meet, drew a field of seven, including Yield Bogey and Right One, the second- and third-place finishers, respectively, behind Courageous Cat in last month’s Grade 3 Poker.

Hushion had thought about waiting to run Gantry back in the Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga on July 31, but said the seven-eighths race with a short field was “too hard to resist.”

Gantry, a son of Pulpit out of the turf stakes-winning Rhum, was five lengths behind a rapid early pace in his allowance victory. On Saturday, the pace does not appear to be nearly as sharp, meaning Gantry could be on or close to the lead in the Jaipur.

With John Velazquez out of town, Mike Luzzi has picked up the mount on Gantry.

Yield Bogey came off an eight-month layoff to run second to Courageous Cat in the Poker. Yield Bogey ran off to a six-length lead in the opening quarter-mile and did well to hold second, 2 1/2 lengths behind Courageous Cat and a length in front of Right One. Courageous Cat came back to win the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood Park on July 2.

Yield Bogey will break from post 4 under Jorge Chavez.

Trainer Christophe Clement sends out Right One and Nordic Truce in the Jaipur. Also entered were Evolutionist, Radiohead, and Targhee Pass. D’ Funnybone and Spa City Fever were entered for main track only.

J.P’s Gusto eyes Amsterdam

Hushion said J.P.’s Gusto, winner of the Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town last out, will make his next start in the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 1. The Amsterdam is the local prep for the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 27.

As a 2-year-old, J.P.’s Gusto won three graded sprint stakes in Southern California, topped by the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity. Following six losses in graded races at a mile or further, J.P.’s Gusto was visually impressive winning the seven-furlong Red Legend at Charles Town by 6 3/4 lengths. He came back with a half-mile breeze in 49.66 seconds Sunday at Belmont.

“It’s good timing,” Hushion said of the Amsterdam. “He’s carrying good weight. He’s a tough bugger.”

by David Grening


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