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GUTIERREZ TO “TEST DRIVE” BELMONT IN BROOKLYN HANDICAP;

Jun 5th, 12
At 1 ½ miles, the Belmont Park main track is the largest dirt oval in North American racing. To jockeys accustomed to riding at mile tracks like those in California – or even the 1 1/8-mile courses at Gulfstream Park or Laurel Park – Belmont’s vast expanse can be disorienting.

 From NYRA Communications Department

Trainer Doug O’Neill knows his jockey, Mario Gutierrez, will face this challenge when he attempts to ride I’ll Have Another into the history books Saturday with a victory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes, which would complete the first Triple Crown since 1978. With his mind set on getting Gutierrez a full, live-action tour of the course, O’Neill has Gutierrez aboard 4-year-old colt Boxeur des Rues in the 124th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap on Friday.

 

The Brooklyn, to be run as the last of 10 races, is the first half of The New York Racing Association’s (NYRA) Brooklyn-Belmont double, covering the two 1 ½-mile stakes. Also on Friday’s card is the Grade 3, $150,000 Jaipur at seven furlongs, in which Right One will seek to defend his title in the 29th running of the turf race for 3-year-olds and up.

 

The Brooklyn, won in the past by greats such as Discovery, Whirlaway, Kelso and Forego, is run at the Belmont distance. O’Neill hopes the ride aboard Boxeur des Rues and three other mounts on the Friday card, along with one Main Track Only, will have Gutierrez primed for his big assignment the following day.

 

“We brought this horse with that intent,” O’Neill said of Boxeur des Rues, who, like I’ll Have Another, is owned by J. Paul Reddam. “Three or four days ago, he didn’t train as well as I’d like and we went on a mad dash to have Paul invest in a horse for [the Brooklyn]. That didn’t work out too well.”

 

Boxeur des Rues, 10th in each of his past two starts – the Grade 1 Turf Classic on Kentucky Derby Day and the Grade 2 Dixie on Preakness Day – turned out to have a minor bruise inside his right front foot. O’Neill said the son of Smart Strike now is “looking fantastic.”

 

“This is a really good opportunity for Mario, and I think the horse has a chance to compete and do well,” O’Neill said of Boxeur des Rues, who is 12-1 on the morning line.

 

Tying the legendary Forego for most appearances in the Brooklyn will be Eldaafer, who will compete in his fourth straight edition of the race to join the Hall of Fame gelding, who won it from 1974-76 and finished second in 1977.

 

Eldaafer won the 2009 Brooklyn and then finished third in 2010 and fourth last year. Proving he is more than a one-trick pony, Eldaafer won the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Marathon as well.

 

Owners Jim Atwell and Kevin Jacobsen purchased Eldaafer privately last August and after a sixth-place finish in the Marathon at Churchill Downs, took him out of the barn of trainer Diane Alvarado and raced him on the West Coast, where they are based.

 

After little success, they returned Eldaafer to Alvarado, and he has appeared to return to form in her care. In his most recent work, Sunday at Monmouth Park, he breezed four furlongs in :47 1/5 seconds, best of 111 efforts on the work tab.

 

“He was on cruise control,” said Alvarado, who is thrilled to have her best horse back in the barn. “I got him in Florida and just backed off him and let him walk. He was tired. We gave him some time. In the past two weeks, I’ve been really happy and he’s moving forward at the right time.

 

“I’m very happy to have him back,” she said. “I wished them best of luck out there, but it was tough to have your best horse walk out of the barn. I’m happy to have him peaking at the right time. He’s really training on this track; Sunday, he worked lights out.”

 

Eldaafer, 12-1 on the morning line, leaves from post position 4 with Paco Lopez aboard.

 

Birdrun, the 4-1 second choice on the morning line, returns to the Brooklyn after winning the race last year by 3 ¾ lengths in a gate-to-wire score. The 6-year-old son of 2004 Belmont Stakes winner Birdstone, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, has not won since, although he did finish second last November in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Marathon.

 

Arthur’s Tale, who has tantalized trainer Tom Albertrani with good – but not winning – efforts since missing by a neck when second in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial Stakes last year, also will run as part of an entry with Balladry.

 

“He’s always been a pretty interesting horse since the time he got beat in the Wood,” Albertrani said. “He ran well in his last race [the Vanlandingham, May 17 at Belmont]; he was finishing strong. Stretching out, it will be interesting to see if he can handle a mile and a half. He has been an on-and-off horse. He had body soreness at times. After the Wood he had a shin issue, but this is his third time running in a row without a layoff.”

 

Favored on the morning line at 5-2 is highweight Redeemed, a recent 9 ¾-length winner in the Milesius overnight stakes May 3 at Belmont. The son of Include was third in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap this year at Gulfstream; won the Grade 3 Discovery last year at Aqueduct and also took the Oklahoma Derby, defeating Alternation, now one of the top older horses in the country. He will carry 121 pounds, including Ramon Dominguez, from post position 11.

 

Hailstone, Not Abroad, Eye On Jacob, Golden Gulch, Praetereo, Balladry and Kentucky Reign complete the field.

 

With a strong third-place finish in the Grade 2 Commonwealth on April 14 at Keeneland, his first race in five months, Ghislaine Head’s Right One signaled he has lost none of his fire as a 6-year-old and is the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Jaipur.

 

Right One, to be ridden by Julien Leparoux for trainer Christophe Clement, defeated Yield Bogey in the final jump last year and then finished third behind Turallure and Courageous Cat in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile before tailing off the remainder of the year.

 

“He’s been training well; [The Commonwealth] was a good race to bring him back,” Clement said. “I think he had a nice prep race.”

 

Along with Yield Bogey, making his fourth start in the Jaipur, Right One will have to contend with Bergerac, an $80,000 claim at Gulfstream Park two races back by owner Paul Pompa and trainer Chad Brown.

 

Bergerac immediately paid dividends, finishing second in the Commonwealth, ahead of Right One.

 

“He comes in off a little layoff and not by design,” Brown said. “He missed an overnight race that got rained off the turf, so he missed his prep. He’s an older horse with plenty career starts under his belt, though, so at this age (5) he maintains his fitness.”

 

Bergerac, the 5-2 morning-line second choice, will be ridden by Javier Castellano from post position 7.

 

Also set for the Jaipur are Leave of Absence, Boots Ahead, Upgrade, Shintoh and Senor Dehere. Recent stakes winner Ponzi Scheme is entered Main Track Only.

 

The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Brooklyn:

Prog. No     PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1                    8

Arthurs Tale

J Castellano

115

T Albertrani

 8-1

1a                  9

Balladry

R Napravnik

117

E Harty

 8-1

2                    1

Hailstone

J R Velazquez

114

T A Pletcher

15-1

3                    2

Not Abroad

R Maragh

119

W I Mott

 6-1

4                    3

Eye On Jacob

P Lopez

117

D Alvarado

 5-1

5                    4

Birdrun

J Lezcano

115

E Kenneally

 4-1

6                    5

Eldaafer

E S Prado

115

C J Domino

12-1

7                    6

Golden Gulch

J Castellano

115

T Albertrani

12-1

8                    7

Praetereo

R Napravnik

115

E G Harty

20-1

9                   10

Boxeur des Rues  

M Gutierrez

114

D F O'Neill

12-1

10                 11

Redeemed

R  Dominguez

121

R E Dutrow, Jr.

 5-1

11                 12

KentuckyReign

J Rosario

114

R E Dutrow, Jr.

30-1

 

 

 

The field for the Grade 3, $150,000 Jaipur:

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

Leave of Absence  

A Garcia

118

R A Violette, Jr.

10-1

2

Yield Bogey  

E S Prado

118

P J Kelly

 8-1

3

Boots Ahead  

E Castro

120

G Weaver

 5-1

4

Upgrade  

J R Velazquez

118

M Nihei

 6-1

5

Right One  

J R Leparoux

122

C Clement

 2-1

6

Shintoh  

R Maragh

118

H A Jerkens

12-1

7

Bergerac  

J Castellano

118

C C Brown

 5-2

8

Senor Dehere  

R A Dominguez

118

H G Motion

15-1

9

Ponzi Scheme (MTO)

E Trujillo

124

J Serey

 6-5

 

 

-30-

 

PDJF

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