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Regal Ransom Faces Seven in Kelso

Regal Ransom, who scored an impressive front-running victory at Saratoga Race Course on September 1, heads a field of eight middle-distance specialists entered in Sunday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Kelso Handicap at Belmont Park, which will be contested for the first time as a scheduled dirt race.


The 4-year-old Distorted Humor colt is seeking his first stakes win since the 2009 Super Derby, in which he became the last horse to defeat Blame, carrier of a five-race win streak into Saturday’s Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational at Belmont. Subsequently eighth over the artificial surface in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, Regal Ransom came back to finish fourth behind Haynesfield in Belmont’s Grade 2 Suburban Handicap in July.


Previously run on the grass, the Kelso will be the Godolphin Stable color-bearer’s first start at a mile since a second-place finish in the Group 3 2000 Guineas at Nad Al Sheba in February, 2009, and a winning performance could earn him a shot at the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.


“A mile is a good distance for him to be at his best,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to Godolphin head trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who won the Kelso in 2008 with Tam Lin and in 2006 with Ashkal Way.


A half-brother to multiple Grade 1-winning filly Devil May Care, Regal Ransom has turned in a pair of bullet works since defeating four stakes winners in the 1 1/8 mile optional claimer at Saratoga, going a half-mile in 47.12 on September 19 and five furlongs in 58.67 last Sunday.


“We’re really happy with him,” said Mettee of Regal Ransom, winner of 2009’s Grade 2, 1 1/8 mile UAE Derby. “The Kelso is going to be a tough race, but he tries hard every time.”


Under high weight of 119 pounds, including Alan Garcia, Regal Ransom will leave from post position 8 as the 2-1 morning line favorite.


Back to defend his title in the Kelso is Le Grand Cru, who took last year’s off-the-turf edition in front-running style. The 5-year-old son of Dynaformer, who went on to win the 2009 Grade 3 Bold Ruler at seven furlongs and the 2010 Grade 3 Westchester at a mile before being sold, is seeking his first victory for new trainer Todd Pletcher after a pair of fourth-place finishes in the Grade 3 Salvatore Mile and the James Marvin at Saratoga.


“He did not seem to handle the track at Monmouth, and he caught an off-track at Saratoga,” said Pletcher, who trains Le Grand Cru for Michael Stinson. “Hopefully, with the one-turn mile at Belmont, he’ll come back to his best race. We’ve got a tough horse to beat in Regal Ransom, but we’ve been pretty much focused on this race.”


John Velazquez rides Le Grand Cru, 12-1 on the morning line, from post position 5.

Tizway, long a consistent performer for trainer Jim Bond and owner William Clifton, is seeking his first stakes victory in the Kelso after having knocked heads with some of the nation’s top thoroughbreds over the past two years. Most recently third behind Quality Road and Musket Man in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap on Memorial Day, the 5-year-old son of Tiznow will be making only his third start of 2010 in the Kelso, having won an optional claimer at Aqueduct in April.


“We missed some time over the summer with him because of foot problems, but now, physically, he seems to be doing very, very well,” said Bond of Tizway, who last fall was third to Summer Bird and Quality Road in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. “He’s not up there with the Quality Roads, but he’s a very good horse, and a mile might be his optimal distance.”


At 7-2 on the morning line, Tizway will leave from post position 4 with Rajiv Maragh aboard.


Another seeking his first stakes win is Centennial Farms’ Convocation, who was fourth in the Grade 1 Woodward at Saratoga on September 4. The 4-year-old Pulpit colt is 2-2-0 from six 2010 starts, including a victory at a mile at Gulfstream Park in March and a second to Le Grand Cru in the Westchester.


Javier Castellano rides Convocation, 6-1 on the morning line, from post position 3.


Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito will be represented in the Kelso by Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, last seen finishing second to Regal Ransom at Saratoga. Now 5, the son of Mineshaft will be making his first appearance at Belmont Park since an eighth-place finish in the 2009 Suburban Handicap behind Dry Martini.


Julien Leparoux rides Cool Coal Man, 4-1 on the morning line, from the rail.


Rounding out the field are Caixa Eletronica, beaten favorite in a 6 ½-furlong allowance at Saratoga on August 9; Jersey Town, second in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile Handicap at Emerald Downs on August 22, and Grade 1 Woodward runner-up Mythical Power, who was also entered in Saturday’s Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.


The field for the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap:








Cool Coal Man (KY)

J R Leparoux


N P Zito



Jersey Town (KY)

R A Dominguez


B Tagg



Convocation (KY)

J Castellano


J A Jerkens



Tizway (KY)

R Maragh


H J Bond



Le Grand Cru (KY)

J R Velazquez


T A Pletcher



Caixa Eletronica (KY)

J Lezcano


W Phipps



Mythical Power (KY)

G K Gomez


B Baffert



Regal Ransom (KY)

A Garcia


S bin Suroor





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