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Competitive Fort Marcy Attracts Boisterous

A contentious field of nine – eight of them stakes winners – will line up Saturday for Belmont Park’s Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy, the first open graded turf stakes of the year in New York.

 

The Fort Marcy is the co-feature with the Grade 3 Beaugay for fillies and mares on Belmont’s special Kentucky Derby Day card. Admission gates open at 10 a.m. and first race post time at Churchill Downs is 10:30 a.m., with the Derby scheduled to go off at approximately 6:24 p.m.

 

First race post time for Belmont’s live 10-race card is 12:50 p.m.

 

Heading the field for the 1 1/16-mile Fort Marcy is the Phipps Stable’s Boisterous, who closed out his 2011 campaign with back-to-back wins in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker at Belmont Park and the Grade 2 Red Smith at Aqueduct Racetrack. The handsome son of Distorted Humor, now 5, has made one start this year, finishing fourth in an optional claimer at Gulfstream Park on March 18, but his connections are hoping he will have an impact on some of the bigger stakes in New York this summer.

 

“He has been training very, very well and there’s no reason he shouldn’t run well on Saturday,” said Robbie Medina, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “If he does, races like the [Grade 1 Woodford Reserve] Manhattan [June 9] would be considered. The 1 ¼ miles of the Manhattan suits him more than the Fort Marcy, but he is doing very well.”

 

Alan Garcia will be aboard Boisterous, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, from post position 5.

 

The well-traveled Silver Medallion, a stakes winner at Gulfstream Park, Calder Race Course, Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita, will be making his Belmont Park debut in the Fort Marcy.

 

The Badge of Silver colt, a half-brother to 2005 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup winner Sweet Talker, made a brief foray onto the Triple Crown trail last year but returned to the turf after a fourth-place finish as the favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Sold privately to Black Rock Stable over the summer and sent to trainer Todd Pletcher, Silver Medallion won the Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at Calder and the Grade 3 Fort Lauderdale at Gulfstream over the winter. Most recently, he was seventh as the favorite over a “good” course in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 11.

 

Junior Alvarado will ride Silver Medallion, second choice at 3-1 on the morning line and the high weight under 123 pounds, from post position 3.

 

Desert Blanc, who in 2011 won a listed stakes in France and finished third, beaten just a length, in the Group 3 Prix du Prince d’Orange at Longchamp, will be making his first American appearance in the Fort Marcy for new trainer Chad Brown.

 

“He’s been right there in group races, and he’s been holding good company over there,” said Brown of Desert Blanc, who carries the colors of Swift Thoroughbreds. “He’s run as far as a mile and a quarter over there, but I think I think this is a good comeback, a mile and a sixteenth, to see where we’re at with him.”

 

Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will be aboard Desert Blanc, third choice at 7-2 on the morning line, from post position 8.

The 6-year-old Sal the Barber will be making his third appearance in the Fort Marcy, having finished third in 2011 and fifth the previous year. A steady performer at the Fort Marcy distance for trainer Christophe Clement with a record of 1-1-2 from five starts, Sal the Barber will be looking for his first victory since November, 2010, when he won the 1 1/16-mile Three Coins Up at Aqueduct over a “good” turf.

 

“He’s been a consistent horse for us,” said Clement of Sal the Barber, whom owner Lewis Schaffel named after pitching great Sal (the Barber) Maglie. “I think he should enjoy the turf on Saturday. We’ll try.”

 

Cornelio Velasquez, who has first call aboard Main Track Only entrant Trickmeister, is named on Sal the Barber, who drew post position 9 and was tabbed at 12-1 on the morning line.

 

The lone Fort Marcy entrant with no stakes credit on his resume is JMJ Racing Stables’ reliable Upgrade. Most recently a neck winner of a one-mile optional claimer on the turf at Gulfstream in his first start for trainer Michelle Nihei, the 5-year-old son of Saint Liam has been off the board just once in 15 career races.

 

“We chose to skip the off-the-turf stake in Miami with Upgrade and he’s been sitting on ‘go’ for a couple of weeks now,” said Nihei. “We are very much looking forward to this race.”

 

Fernando Jara rides Upgrade, 12-1 on the morning line, from post position 4.

 

Completing the field, from the rail out, are Boots Ahead, fifth behind Boisterous in the Knickerbocker last time out; Top Surprize, a supplemental entry making his first start since a third in the Shady Character at Belmont last October; Beau Choix, fourth in an optional claimer at Gulfstream in his 2012 debut, and Gourmet Dinner, the 2010 Delta Downs Jackpot winner who is making his turf debut.

 

Trickmeister, whose five-race win streak was snapped when he finished sixth in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap, will run only if the race is moved off the turf.

 

The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Fort Marcy:

 

 

PP

Horse

 

 

 

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Boots Ahead (KY)

 

 

 

E Castro

116

G Weaver

10-1

2

Top Surprize (KY)

 

 

 

J L Espinoza

116

N Chatterpaul

20-1

3

Silver Medallion (KY)

 

 

 

J Alvarado

123

T A Pletcher

 3-1

4

Upgrade (KY)

 

 

 

F Jara

116

M Nihei

12-1

5

Boisterous (KY)

 

 

 

A Garcia

120

C R McGaughey III

 5-2

6

Beau Choix (KY)

 

 

 

D Cohen

116

B Tagg

 6-1

7

Gourmet Dinner (FL)

 

 

 

R Napravnik

116

B R Brown

15-1

8

Desert Blanc (GB)

 

 

 

E S Prado

116

C C Brown

 7-2

9

Sal the Barber (KY)

 

 

 

C H Velasquez

116

C Clement

12-1

10

Trickmeister (KY) (MTO)

 

 

 

C H Velasquez

120

R Dutrow

 4-5

 

 

 

 

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