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Belmont notes: Incognito banks on pedigree; Freedom Child likes sloppy track

6/6/2013 6:45 AM
By By Mike Farrell Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) - Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin is banking on an impeccable pedigree being the equalizer for Incognito in the Belmont Stakes.

On past form, Incognito lacks the credentials to be a major player Saturday in the 1½-mile Belmont, the longest race in the Triple Crown.

The gray colt is 2 for 6, having won a pair of minor races at Aqueduct in the March and April. He was a distant fifth in the Peter Pan at Belmont, his only stakes appearance.

Accordingly, Incognito is 20-1 on the morning line.

Easily dismissed, except for his parentage.

A.P. Indy, the sire, won the 1992 Belmont on his way to Horse of the Year honors. Both Octave, the dam, and her sire, Unbridled's Song were both multiple Grade 1 winners.

If the bloodlines show, Incognito might surprise.

"That's why we're here," McLaughlin said. "He's battle tested. We hope for the best, and hope is pedigree kicks in."

McLaughlin also has a Belmont Stakes pedigree, having won with Jazil in 2006.

Incognito is owned by Godolphin Racing, the international stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the prime minister and vice president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai.

HOPING FOR SLOP: Freedom Child might get his ideal track in the Belmont - rainy and sloppy.

A wet strip would certainly enhance the chances of the 8-1 shot.

The forecast calls for heavy rain and thunderstorms Friday continuing into Saturday with an 80 percent chance of showers on Belmont Day.

None of that was bad news for trainer Tom Albertrani.

"We've been watching the forecast since a few days ago," he said Wednesday. "It's getting better and better for us, every time we look at it."

Several horses in the 14-horse field have proven ability on a wet track, most notably Orb, the 3-1 Belmont favorite, who rallied from 16th in the slop at Churchill Downs to win the Kentucky Derby.

Freedom Child never made the Derby. His shot to qualify vanished at the start of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He was still in the hands of an assistant starter when the gate opened. Badly compromised at the break, Freedom Child finished last and all bets on him were refunded.

His next race was the Peter Pan at Belmont on the Saturday following the Derby. It came up sloppy, and Freedom Child loved it.

He shot right to the front and steadily widened his margin, winning by a stunning 13¼ lengths. Next up is the Belmont.

"He couldn't be better," Albertrani said. "He's sharp. His energy level is very high. I couldn't be happier with the way he's looking right now."

Luis Saez, one of the hottest riders at Belmont, will again be aboard. The 21-year-old from Panama had five winners here last Friday.

STILL GOLDEN: Golden Soul was one of the last horses to qualify for the Derby and was dismissed by the bettors as a 34-1 outsider.

Given the opportunity, Golden Soul outran his odds. He came charging through the lane to finish second, 2½ lengths behind Orb.

Given the chestnut colt's late running style, trainer Dallas Stewart opted to skip the 1 3/16-mile Preakness and wait for the Belmont.

In that time between races, Golden Soul again faded into the background. He'll try to prove the skeptics wrong again at odds of 10-1.

The fact he landed the outside post, No. 14, makes the quest that much harder.

Golden Soul is still looking for some respect.

"This horse was 12-1 even in his first race," Stewart said. "He can run inside, outside. He handles everything that's thrown at him. It's a bit of a challenge from post 14, but he's the type of horse that's met a lot of challenges."

MATCHING FUNDS: Fans attending the Belmont can aid the victims of the massive tornado that devastated Moore, Okla.

Donations will be accepted at a designated table on the first floor of the grandstand. The New York Racing Association will match the funds donated on Saturday with the money designated for the American Red Cross and the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.

In addition to the dozens of people killed and homes demolished, an equine training center took a direct hit. It is believed more than 75 horses were killed by the twister.

PILLARS: The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., selected August Belmont II and Paul Mellon as the inaugural Pillars of the Turf inductees.

Belmont was chairman of the Jockey Club from shortly after its founding in 1894 until his death in 1924. He was the breeder of Man o' War and is best remembered as the founder of the racetrack that bears his name.

Mellon was a banker, breeder and owner. He campaigned many champions in the U.S. and Europe for his Rokeby Stables including Mill Reef, Arts and Letters and Fort Marcy. Mellon, who died in 1999, won the 1993 Kentucky Derby with Sea Hero.

Belmont and Mellon will be inducted on Aug. 9 along with jockey Calvin Borel and champions Housebuster, Invasor, Lure, McDynamo, and Tuscalee.


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