TRAINER AIMS FOR BIG FRIDAY AT BELMONT
Six times this year, trainer Bruce Brown has won multiple races on a single New York Racing Association card, including a trio of three-win days during Aqueduct’s inner track meeting.
Friday, Brown has five runners sprinkled throughout Belmont Park’s nine-race card with none listed above 6-1 on the morning-line, so it looks like Brown could be in line for another big day.
“Honestly, they all have a shot, there’s no throw outs in the bunch, really,’’ said Brown, who entered the week 4 for 22 at this meet.
In the opener, Brown sends out Reproduction (3-1) in a $20,000 claimer going six furlongs on the dirt. Reproduction has made her last two starts on turf and returns to the dirt, a surface she won over for this tag at Aqueduct on April 3.
“I think she’s probably the same on either [surface], it just seems like the dirt races are a little easier and the fields aren’t so big,’’ Brown said.
The Zipster, 4 for 9 over Belmont’s main track, is listed at 2-1 in the third, a $25,000 claimer, including a 1 1/2-length win at this level on April 29.
“His numbers are a lot better at Belmont than they are anywhere else,’’ Brown said. “He’s doing great. The $25,000 he won last time was kind of easier than this one.’’
David Jacobson, the leading trainer at this meet, has the coupled entry of I Ain’t No Saint and Massala, both dropping in class, while Gary Contessa sends out the class-dropping Ricoriatoa.
Brown claimed Bishop of Nola last July for $25,000 and immediately won a first-level New York-bred allowance with him at Saratoga. Bishop of Nola makes his first start in six months for Brown in the fourth, a statebred second-level allowance going a mile on turf. He faces a tough group, including Gimme Credit and Westside Corral.
Bishop of Nola could be on the lead or sitting just off of Alltiffedoff.
“He’s pretty handy, he can sit right off it if you have to,’’ Brown said. “The race we won with him at Saratoga he went wire to wire.’’
Brown claimed the 6-year-old Dr. W for $7,500 on April 23 and brings him back in a tough $20,000 claimer on the turf in Friday’s sixth. This will be just Dr. W’s second start on turf in his 41st career race. He finished third going seven furlongs over this course in October 2008.
“He seemed like a horse that was just getting kind of sour,’’ Brown said. “Maybe if we switch things up a little bit, maybe we can get him back to his old self.’’
Brown’s best shot may be in the second-level allowance feature, where he sends out Devilish Spirit, a speedy filly who has run her two best races over Belmont’s main track. She will likely try to wire this field from the rail though and could face some early pressure from Spiteful Gypsy.
“Her best game is on the lead,’’ Brown said.
SHEEPSHEAD BAY STAKES
Hibaayeb made an immediate impact in this country when she shipped from England to Southern California last fall to win the Grade 1 Yellow Ribbon at Hollywood Park. Nearly eight months later, Hibaayeb hopes to make a splash on the East Coast when she heads a field of seven entered for Saturday’s Grade 2, $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Stakes at Belmont Park.
The Sheepshead Bay, run at 1 3/8 miles over the Widener Turf Course, drew a field of seven fillies and mares, including a trio from the Christophe Clement barn.
Hibaayeb, owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin Stable, enters the Sheepshead Bay off a third-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race at Gulfstream on April 2. Though she was sent off the 3-2 favorite, Hibaayeb was running at a distance that was far shorter than she prefers.
“We knew 8 1/2 furlongs was going to be a little short for her, she ran a pretty good race,” said Rick Mettee, Godolphin’s assistant trainer. “She might have got a little tired the last part. We were happy with that race. This was always the logical spring-time goal for her.”
Hibaayeb, who was a Group 2 winner in England before coming to the United States, will break from post 2 under John Velazquez. She will carry high weight of 123 pounds, spotting three to seven pounds to the field.
Mettee said that head trainer Saeed bin Suroor said that Hibaayeb would prefer firm turf.
Clement, a four-time winner of the Sheepshead Bay, sends out the uncoupled trio of Cheetah, Giants Pla,y and Tarrip. Cheetah won an off-the-turf, second-level allowance race at Keeneland on April 23, while Giants Play and Tarrip finished a nose apart while third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 3 Orchid at Gulfstream Park on March 20.
Belle Watling and Choice Play comprise a Flying Zee Stable-owned, Patrick Biancone-trained entry.
The Sheepshead Bay will go as race 9 on a 10-race program and is the third leg of a late pick-four wager with a guaranteed pool of $300,000.
by David Grening
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