Ruthenia and Barocci have the Christophe Clement barn
hedged for any possible turf course condition in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker and
Grade 3 Athenia next Saturday at Belmont.
Ruthenia, a 4-year-old who won the Grade 3 Violet in May at Monmouth Park, is likely to run in the 1
1/16-mile Athenia for fillies and mares if there isn’t too much give in
the turf, according to Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Clement.
“At the moment the week is good in terms of the weather
forecast,” said Lorieul. “We just hope it stays that way because
she’s a small filly and I don’t think she cares too much for good
ground. We have a couple of other options [for the Athenia], a filly like Future Generation. It was off the turf the
other day [when she was entered in Wednesday’s Valor Lady overnight
stakes], but the one we are at the moment pointing [to the Athenia] is Ruthenia.”
Owned by Virginia Kraft Payson, Ruthenia
finished fourth in her two most recent starts, the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap
in June at Monmouth and the Grade 2 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo on
August 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
Wildenstein Stable’s Barocci, a 4-year-old Japanese-bred son of
Deep Impact, will make his North American stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile
Knickerbocker. He is 1-2-1 in four starts in the United
States and comes into the Knickerbocker off a second,
beaten three-quarters of a length, in an optional claimer on August 26 at Saratoga.
Lorieul said Barocci, who won a listed stakes in France over “heavy” ground, can
handle any going but could have a distinct advantage over his Knickerbocker
opponents if the Belmont
turf comes up yielding or soft.
“This one, I don’t think it will matter what kind of ground
we have,” said Lorieul. “He’s run on everything, and maybe
the cut in the ground would be in his favor. He’s run in Europe, and with the way he moves in the morning you
would think he would like a little cut in the ground. [Ruthenia]
is more top of the ground; I don’t think she would handle [soft turf]
very well. She has a very good turn of foot and you have to place it, and it
has to be firm, I think.”