D' Funnybone, Worstcasescenario top Belmont stakes
While Saratoga has been the traditional setting for the debut of many promising juveniles, a number of racing's future stars have taken the next step on their career paths at Belmont Park's Fall Championship meet. Man o' War, Bold Ruler, Affirmed and Forty Niner all ran in the Futurity, while the Matron has highlighted such budding stars as Storm Flag Flying, Before Dawn, Cicada and Beaugay.
On Saturday, a new crop of juveniles will showcase their talents going seven furlongs by breaking from the gate in the Futurity S. (G2) and Matron S. (G2). The 120th running of the $250,000 Futurity has drawn a field of eight, including Saratoga Special S. (G2) standout D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat), while the 103rd running of its sister race, the $250,000 Matron, will feature nine juvenile fillies.
D' Funnybone is the star of the Futurity following his 10 1/2-length romp in the Saratoga Special. That was the chestnut's first start sporting the silks of Paul Pompa Jr., who purchased the two-year-old following a 7 1/4-length maiden victory and a second in the Frank Gomez Memorial S. D' Funnybone was then transferred from Joseph Calascibetta to Richard Dutrow Jr. and immediately rewarded his new connections with an easy win at the Spa.
"We'll find out more about the horse on Saturday," Dutrow said. "We're stretching him out a little further and we'll let him dictate things and see how far he can take us."
Right now, D'Funnybone's connections couldn't be happier with the way he's coming into the race, in which he drew post No. 6 with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado aboard.
"Edgar got on him this morning and told me he was very happy with the way he felt," Dutrow said Thursday morning. "I hope he goes to the race just the way he is today."
INSIGHTFUL (E Dubai) and THISKYHASNOLIMIT (Sky Mesa) are also exiting the Saratoga Special, and will be looking to avenge their defeat at the hooves of D' Funnybone. The former rallied from last in that 6 1/2-furlong test to finish fourth and returns to the site and distance of his maiden victory on July 24, while Thiskyhasnolimit was up close to the early pace in the Saratoga Special before fading to eighth on the wire.
DISCREETLY MINE (Mineshaft) will attempt to lead all the way home in the Futurity as the 9-5 second choice on the morning line. The Stanley Hough trainee broke his maiden by 6 1/4 lengths in his third attempt last out at Saratoga, and will pick up the services of Cornelio Velasquez after being piloted by Prado for his initial few races.
The undefeated WORSTCASESCENARIO (Forbidden Apple), two-for-two including her upset victory in the August 13 Adirondack S. (G2) at the Spa, and DASHING DEBBY (Medaglia d'Oro), the beaten favorite in that race, top the nine-filly field in the Matron one race following the Futurity.
Dashing Debby set fractions of :21.49 and :44.32 along the inside before fading to finish fifth behind the 13-1 Worstcasescenario in the Adirondack, and will be looking for a better trip this time around from jockey Robby Albarado. The bay lass was a 10 1/4-length winner of her first race, the J.J'sdream S. on July 11 at Calder, and then was transferred to trainer Steve Asmussen after being purchased by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stable. She breaks from post No. 6 as the 3-1 second choice.
"She drew much better for this race," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. "We don't have to worry about the rail, and she's been training unbelievably well."
Worstcasescenario was a 5 3/4-length scorer at Belmont Park on July 24 in an off-the-turf maiden before coming from just off the pace to take the Adirondack by 4 1/2 lengths. With Alan Garcia aboard again, she breaks from post No. 9 as the 2-1 favorite.
Also returning from the Adirondack are WORSHIP THE MOON (Malibu Moon), who gained late to finish fourth, and BABAI BABY (Value Plus), who ran fifth after being steadied at the three-eighths pole. AWESOME MARIA (Maria's Mon), installed as the 7-2 third choice off a 8 1/4-length maiden win at Saratoga, will make her stakes debut for trainer Stanley Hough.
The 22nd running of the $100,000 Noble Damsel S. (G3) sending seven older fillies and mares one mile on the Widener Turf course rounds out the stakes action on Saturday's card. Heading the field is Grade 1 queen RUTHERIENNE (Pulpit), who is looking to bounce back off a head loss to longshot Salve Germania (Ire) (Peintre Celebre) in the August 29 Ballston Spa H. (G2) on the Travers Day undercard at Saratoga.
In that race, Rutherienne split horses to take the lead in midstretch before the late-charging 24-1 chance overtook her at the wire. While Rutherienne has just one win from four starts this year, the five-year-old dark bay has hit the board in every attempt.
"She ran very well in the Ballston Spa and I hope I'm not running her back too quickly," trainer Christophe Clement said. "But she's training well and she looks well so those are good signs."
Rutherienne is two-for-three over the Belmont Park turf and will make her first start at the track since 2007. The heavy morning line favorite at 1-2, Rutherienne will break from post position No. 7 with Alan Garcia aboard.
Lining up to challenge the heavy favorite are the likes of dual Grade 3 heroine SOCIAL QUEEN (Dynaformer), who will be making her first start since a fifth-place finish in the Dr. James Penny Memorial H. at Philadelphia Park on July 6, and Grade 3-placed stakes winner QUIET MEADOW (El Prado [Ire]).
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