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Fort Marcy, Beaugay Top Belmont Card

Grand Couturier and Interpatation, winners of the last two renewals of the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, will cut back in distance and face a contentious field when they commence their 2010 campaigns in the Grade 3, $100,000 Fort Marcy at Belmont Park on Saturday.

 

The Fort Marcy, the ninth race on the card with a post time of 5:17 p.m., is one of two graded stakes on tap on Belmont Park on Saturday, with My Princess Jess heading a field of eight in the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares. In addition, Belmont Park will also offer simulcast wagering on the 136th running of the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.

 

A two-time victor of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga and hero of the 2008 Turf Classic, Grand Couturier finished second in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct back in November last time out.

 

Trainer Robert Ribaudo had hoped to give the 7-year-old son of Grand Lodge an allowance prep at Gulfstream Park over the winter, but was unable to get one to fill. The conditioner thought about having the veteran make his 2010 debut in an allowance race at Belmont next week before deciding to enter him in the Fort Marcy.

 

Ribaudo admits the Fort Marcy’s 1 1/16-mile distance over the Widener Turf Course is less than ideal for Grand Couturier, who has done his best running at 11 furlongs and longer.

 

“If there’s enough pace in front of him, that will help, but there are horses in the field who prefer this distance, and they don’t mind having a horse like him using this as a comeback race,” said Ribaudo.

 

Owned by Marc Keller, Grand Couturier drew post position 5 as the mild 3-1 morning-line favorite and will be ridden by Mike Luzzi for the first time.

 

If all goes well in the Fort Marcy, Grand Couturier could compete in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard on June 5.

 

“He’s 7 now, and it only gets tougher from here, with horses like Gio Ponti going to the Manhattan,” said Ribaudo.

 

Interpatation upset Gio Ponti in last year’s Turf Classic, contested over soft turf, in which Grand Couturier was placed third. Now 8, Interpatation will be making his first start since dead-heating for 14th in the Group 1 Japan Cup back in November.

 

“He doesn’t know he’s eight years old – he thinks he’s two,” said Bobby Barbara, who trains Interpatation for Elliot Mavorah. “He came back good last year; this year, I think he’s come back even better.”

 

Fernando Jara picked up the mount aboard Interpatation, who will break from post position 6 at 10-1 on the morning line.

 

Another graded stakes winner set to make his seasonal bow in the Fort Marcy is Operation Red Dawn, who earned his black-type victory when he captured the Grade 3 Knickerbocker over the inner turf course at Belmont last October. Trained by Christophe Clement for owner Dion A. Recachina, he last seen finishing sixth after contesting the pace in the Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap at Aqueduct in November, and is listed at 4-1 to open his 8-year-old season with a victory.

 

“He’s a consistent horse,” Clement’s assistant, Christophe Lorieul, said of Operation Red Dawn, who has finished in the money 20 times in 25 starts, and who drew post position 4 in the Fort Marcy. “He’s been knocking on the door, and we finally got a graded victory with him last year.”

 

A supplemental nomination at the entry box on Wednesday, Operation Red Dawn will become reacquainted with jockey Edgar Prado, who last rode the gelding in January 2008.

 

Also hailing from the Clement stable is Grade 3 Calder Derby winner Sal the Barber, who won the Don Jack here at Belmont in July. The 4-year-old enters Saturday’s affair off a single prep, a second in a Gulfstream optional claimer on March 7, and could improve with that race under his belt.

 

“He ran very well that day, but it might have been too soon,” said Lorieul.

 

Joe Bravo will ride Sal the Barber, who will leave from post position 7.

 

Baletti, the 7-2 second choice on the morning line, will try to rebound off an eighth in the Grade 2 Mervin Muniz, Jr. Handicap at the Fair Grounds on Louisiana Derby Day. The Castletop Stable representative won an optional claimer over eventual Grade 1 winner Fluke here at Belmont back in May for trainer Angel Penna, Jr.

 

Jimmy Jerkens will send out Centennial Farm’s Dynamoor and Constantine P. Beler’s Brother Nick in the Fort Marcy. Dynamoor, purchased for $700,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, has made just three starts in his career and comes into Saturday’s race off a pair of narrow victories at Gulfstream Park.

 

“He had a little bit of a cough and missed the allowance race last week,” Jerkens said of the decision to have the 4-year-old son of Dynaformer make the jump into stakes company. “He seems to run very professionally and keeps grinding along. He can keep doing what he has been doing, even though he doesn’t win by far.”

 

Eibar Coa has the mount aboard 12-1 shot Dynamoor, who drew post position 3.

 

Jerkens expects Brother Nick, third last time out in Grade 3 Pan America on March 27 at Gulfstream, to contest the early pace. He could have company up front from Storm Play, who was fourth in the Grade 3 Appleton at Gulfstream on March 20 after dictating the early tempo.

 

Darley Stable’s Florentino, winner of last year’s Grade 2 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs, also figures to be prominent early. Ea, also owned by Darley, is listed as also eligible, and will be coupled with Florentino in the wagering should he draw into the field.

 

The field for the 34th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Fort Marcy:

PP

Horse

 

 

 

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Brother Nick (KY)

 

 

 

C H Marquez, Jr.

116

J A Jerkens

12-1

2a

Florentino (JPN)

 

 

 

E Castro

118

K P McLaughlin

12-1

3

Dynamoor (KY)

 

 

 

E Coa

116

J A Jerkens

12-1

4

Operation Red Dawn (KY)

 

 

 

E S Prado

118

C Clement

4-1

5

Grand Couturier (GB)

 

 

 

M J Luzzi

118

R Ribaudo

3-1

6

Interpatation (KY)

 

 

 

F Jara

118

R Barbara

10-1

7

Sal the Barber (KY)

 

 

 

J Bravo

118

C Clement

6-1

8

Baletti (KY)

 

 

 

C H Velasquez

116

A J Penna, Jr.

7-2

9

Storm Play (VA)

 

 

 

D Cohen

116

T A Pletcher

8-1

AE:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10a

Ea (KY)

 

 

 

No rider

116

T Albertrani

12-1

 

The field for the 33rd running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Pumpkin Shell (KY)

G Saez

115

D G Donk

20-1

2

Liberally (IRE)

E Castro

115

T Albertrani

12-1

3

Scolara (FL)

E S Prado

115

W I Mott

7-2

4

Chestoria (NY)

D Cohen

115

W Badgett, Jr.

6-1

5

Strike the Bell (KY)

M J Luzzi

115

D G Donk

10-1

6

Dynaslew (FL)

E Coa

115

S Benzel

4-1

7

Miss World (KY)

J Bravo

117

C Clement

5-1

8

My Princess Jess (FL)

C H Velasquez

117

B Tagg

5-2

 

 

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