first_img The colt owned by George Steinbrenner can begin to make that a reality with a successful comeback in Saturday’s $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga, the season’s last battle royal for 3-year-olds. “The ideal (on the) wish list would be that he runs the same way he ran in the Wood Memorial,” Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito said on the day Bellamy Road (Javier Castellano riding) drew post position 1 and was selected the 2-1 favorite for the 136th Travers. Funny things have happened to horse racing’s heavyweights since the May evening Bellamy Road walked into the Kentucky Derby starting gate as a budding superstar, only to finish seventh behind 50-1 winner Giacomo and exit injured. Weirder yet is the possibility that, after so many other horses have been tripped up, Bellamy Road will find himself the center of attention again at the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park on Oct. 29. Roman Ruler comes into the Travers off victories in Belmont’s Dwyer Stakes and Monmouth’s Haskell Invitational. Flower Alley was second in the Dwyer before beating Reverberate by 5 lengths in Saratoga’s Jim Dandy. Then there are all of the star 3-year-olds who aren’t in the Travers: Giacomo won’t race again until at least the Dec. 26 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita after having bone-chip surgery in June. Afleet Alex, the Preakness and Belmont winner, now seems unlikely to come back from a July fracture in time to race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. Closing Argument, the Derby runner-up at 71-1, hasn’t competed since finishing ninth in the Preakness and is shooting for races later in the summer. The injury bug has gobbled up older stars as well: Ghostzapper, the Horse of the Year in 2004, has been retired after one start in 2005. Roses in May, who chased Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic, was retired earlier this month. Eddington, the Pimlico Special winner, also has gone to stud. All of which should have allowed Donn Handicap and Stephen Foster Handicap winner Saint Liam to pad his lead in the 3-year-olds-and-up division, but his reputation was dented when front-running Commentator upset him in Saratoga’s Whitney Handicap. In California, meanwhile, Hollywood Gold Cup winner Lava Man and Swaps Stakes winner Surf Cat lost their Breeders’ Cup momentum when they waged an early duel and finished third and sixth behind 12-1 Borrego in last Sunday’s Pacific Classic at Del Mar. Suddenly, in the World Thoroughbred Poll rankings of Breeders’ Cup Classic contenders, Rock Hard Ten has moved all the way up to No. 2 (below Saint Liam) while not racing since his Santa Anita Handicap win in March because of physical problems. The search for Breeders’ Cup threats seems to have brought us full circle to the stars of the spring. Weird, but it suits Bellamy Road just fine. At Del Mar: The Del Mar season, which peaked when a track-record $24,048,615 bet on the Pacific Classic program Sunday, begins to wind down this weekend. Saturday’s $250,000 Del Mar Debutante, the sixth and last Grade I stakes at the meet that ends Sept. 7, matches Sorrento winner Bully Bones (Rene Douglas), Landaluce winner Indian Breeze (Pat Valenzuela) and Cinderella winner River’s Prayer (Victor Espinoza) in a field of 11. The Associated Press contributed. — Kevin Modesti is a Daily News columnist. His horse racing column appears Fridays. He can be reached at [email protected] DEL MAR LEADERS Through Wednesday Jockeys, Wins Victor Espinoza 37 Garrett Gomez 34 Pat Valenzuela 29 Corey Nakatani 25 Alex Solis 23 John Court 13 David Flores 12 Trainers, Wins Jeff Mullins 16 Bob Baffert 15 Doug O’Neill 14 Vladimir Cerin 10 Three tied 9 ON THE STAKES SCHEDULE Del Mar Saturday -$250,000 Del Mar Debutante, 2-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs. Sunday -$250,000 Del Mar Handicap, 3-year-olds and up, 1 3/8 miles (turf). Saratoga Today -$400,000 Personal Ensign Handicap, 3-year-old-and-up fillies and mares, 1 1/4 miles. -$250,000 Spinaway Stakes, 2-year-old fillies, 7 furlongs. Saturday -$1 million Travers Stakes, 3-year-olds 1 1/4 miles. -$250,000 King’s Bishop Stakes, 3-year-olds, 7 furlongs. -$250,000 Hopeful Stakes, 2-year-olds, 7 furlongs. A WEEK AT THE RACES -Pat Valenzuela and Corey Nakatani were fined $500 by Del Mar stewards after fighting in the jockeys’ room after the second race Monday. Valenzuela, who finished last with Grafton, reportedly argued with Nakatani, who didn’t ride in the race, over P. Val’s role in an incident that led to the disqualification of fourth-place Cheiron and cost Rene Douglas a three-day suspension. -Saratoga’s Whitney Handicap card Saturday includes the King’s Bishop sprint, with 8-for-8 Lost in the Fog (Russell Baze) a heavy favorite, and the Hopeful for 2-year-olds, with 3-for-3 Henny Hughes (Gary Stevens). Today, top-ranked mare Ashado (John Velazquez) seeks her 12th win in 19 starts in the Personal Ensign. -Borrego’s upset victory in the Pacific Classic lifted him to No. 6 in the World Thoroughbred Poll rankings of contenders for the Oct. 29 Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont Park. He’s below No. 1 Saint Liam, Rock Hard Ten, Commentator, Roman Ruler and Perfect Drift on the list set by a panel. -Bay Meadows, in San Mateo, opens today for a 33-day meet that runs to Oct. 16 and features the $125,000 Bay Meadows Handicap on Oct. 2. -Responding to an increase in wagering revenue, Del Mar raised purses 5 percent, retroactive to the start of the July 20 to Sept. 7 season. -National Turf Writers Association members voted honors for trainer Nick Zito (Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of racing), retired California steward Pete Pedersen (Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing) and Daily Racing Form reporter Jay Privman (Walter Haight Award for excellence in turf writing). Privman is a former Daily News turf writer. -Rafael Bejarano, who led the nation’s jockeys in victories in 2004, plans to return from an Aug. 1 ankle injury ahead of schedule to ride Storm Surge in Saturday’s King’s Bishop at Saratoga. -Kevin Modesti 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 Zito knows he can’t expect Bellamy Road to bounce back from a foreleg injury and a nearly four-month layoff to repeat his 17-length Wood victory in April. Caution is advised especially because Zito and the Steinbrenner camp didn’t decide until Tuesday whether Bellamy Road would return to competition in the 1-mile Travers, not the seven-furlong King’s Bishop Stakes on the same Saturday card. “I have to ask Bellamy Road to do me a favor,” Zito said. “It is a big, big, step, there’s no question. Obviously, I’m putting him through something that is not an easy thing to do. He is an exceptional horse, so we’re just going to do the best we can.” The Travers, as big a race as it is, shapes up as just a step for the Florida-bred son of Concerto who likely would have one more race between this and the Breeders’ Cup Classic to tap his apparently awesome potential. The post-position lineup for the Travers (ESPN, 2 p.m.): Bellamy Road; Andromeda’s Hero (Corey Nakatani), 12-1; Chekhov (Gary Stevens), 10-1; Roman Ruler (Jerry Bailey), 5-2; Don’t Get Mad (Edgar Prado), 10-1; Reverberate (Jose Santos), 8-1; and Flower Alley (John Velazquez), 3-1. last_img

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