Belmont Park's Fall Championship Meet begins
The Belmont Park Fall Championship Meet begins Friday, and to celebrate the track is offering free grandstand admission for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The 33-day stand continues through October 25 with Mondays and Tuesdays dark. Belmont will be open Columbus Day, October 12, and dark on Wednesday, October 14. First race post time is always 1 p.m. (ET).
The fall stakes schedule features 11 Grade 1 races, which are certain to attract many of the top horses pointing toward divisional titles and/or the Breeders' Cup World Championships. The flurry of Grade 1 activity begins Saturday with the $300,000 Ruffian H. (G1) for fillies and mares at 8 1/2 furlongs and the $300,000 Garden City S. (G1) for three-year-old fillies at nine furlongs on the turf.
Sunday will include the $150,000 Bowling Green H. (G2) sending three-year-olds and up 11 furlongs on the turf. The event had originally been scheduled for opening day but was moved due to forecast inclement weather. The card will also feature New York-breds in the $100,000 Ashley T. Cole S. going 1 1/8 miles on the green, and kick off the first "Pick the Pros and Ponies" contest, which will run every Sunday of the meet. The contest is free and requires players to correctly pick the winners of four designated NFL games as well as the winners of the 3RD and 5TH races on the day's card for a chance to win a $1,000 weekly prize.
One week later, on September 19, two-year-olds will take center stage in the Matron S. (G2) for fillies and the Futurity S. (G2) for colts and geldings, each worth $250,000. The juvenile stakes will both be run at seven furlongs, and the program also includes the $100,000 Noble Damsel H. (G3) for fillies and mares at one mile on the turf.
On September 26, college students will receive free grandstand admission with a valid college I.D. and their chance at a $1,000 scholarship or the Dime Savings Bank $2,000 scholarship after each race. The major race of the day will be the $150,000 Gallant Bloom H. (G2) sending fillies and mares 6 1/2 furlongs.
Super Saturday on October 3 will undoubtedly be the biggest day of the meet, with five major preps for the Breeders' Cup scheduled to take place. The $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational S. (G1) at 10 furlongs, the $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational S. (G1) at 12 furlongs on the turf, the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational S. (G1) for turf distaffers going 10 furlongs, the $600,000 Beldame S. (G1) sending distaffers nine furlongs and the $400,000 Vosburgh S. (G1) at six furlongs will all showcase some of the biggest names in Thoroughbred racing.
On October 10, four weeks prior to the Breeders' Cup, juveniles will compete in the Champagne S. (G1) and its filly counterpart, the Frizette S. (G1), each worth $400,000 and going one mile. The undercard includes the Jamaica H. (G1) for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on the turf.
New York breds will get their day in the spotlight on October 24 when the New York Showcase will host seven races for state-breds worth a total of $1 million. The headline event will be the $250,000 Empire Classic H. at nine furlongs.
The popular Breakfast at Belmont program, which provides a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Thoroughbred racing, will be offered every weekend through September.
On the New York worktab
At Belmont Park on Thursday, champion MIDSHIPMAN (Unbridled's Song) continued to work toward his comeback with a five-furlong drill in 1:00 1/5 on the fast main track. The Godolphin colt, who was last seen capturing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), could return in the October 11 Jerome H. (G2).
Suburban H. (G2) winner DRY MARTINI (Slew Gin Fizz) blitzed in a bullet 1:00. Fifth in the Whitney H. (G1) most recently, the Barclay Tagg charge is likely to line up in the October 3 Jockey Club Gold Cup S. (G1).
Dubai Group 2 hero HONOUR DEVIL (Arg) (Honour and Glory), unraced since his runner-up effort in the Burj Nahaar (UAE-G3) in early March, sped a half-mile in :47 1/5.
Grade 2 veteran SONGSTER (Songandaprayer), who has raced only three times in the last three years, reeled off five panels in 1:00 4/5.
Grade 1-placed PERSISTENTLY (Smoke Glacken) strolled three furlongs in :38 3/5 in advance of her first start since April.
Decoration Day H. queen LINDELAAN (Rahy), fifth in the De La Rose S., negotiated a half-mile in :50 2/5.
Multiple stakes victor and Grade 1-placed BARCOLA (Old Trieste) clocked :50 4/5 as he searches for his best form.
SLEVIN (Belong to Me), runner-up in all three legs of the Big Apple Triple, traveled five-eighths in 1:01.
On the fast training track, Metropolitan H. (G1) star BRIBON (Fr) (Mark of Esteem [Ire]) exercised four panels in :49 1/5. In the wake of a smashing allowance/optional claiming score on the turf at Saratoga, the Bobby Ribaudo trainee is headed to the September 20 Woodbine Mile (Can-G1).
Multiple Grade 2 veteran TRIPPI'S STORM (Trippi), sidelined since finishing sixth in the 2007 Breeders' Cup Mile (G1), went in :50 3/5.
Smart debut maiden winner TOUCHING BEAUTY (Tapit) breezed six furlongs in 1:15 4/5.
Over Aqueduct's fast strip, Saratoga Special S. (G2) romper D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) worked six panels in 1:12 4/5. The Richard Dutrow juvenile is nominated to the September 19 Futurity S. (G2).
Stakes scorer and Grade 1-placed SOLAR FLARE (Arg) (Salt Lake), third in the Salvator Mile H. (G3), covered five-eighths in 1:02 2/5.
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