Stakes Advance
Oct 1, 2020
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Veteran stakes-winners look to jump start successful fall campaign in Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational (G3)

by Brian Bohl



Crawford Farms Racing's Archidust has notched back-to-back stakes wins and will look for his third consecutive in Sunday's Grade 3, $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational for 3-year-olds and up at Belmont Park.

The fifth running of the Belmont Turf Sprint, contested at six furlongs on the Widener course, is one of three stakes on the day's card, joining the Grade 2, $150,000 Beldame for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at 1 1/8 miles on the main track and the Grade 2, $150,00 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.

Since Hall of Fame Steve Asmussen took over the training duties, Archidust is 2-for-2, winning the 5 1/2-furlong Wolf Hill in July at Monmouth Park, tying a personal best with a 96 Beyer Speed Figure. He won at the same track and distance on August 23, besting Spikes Shirl by a head in the Get Serious. The Verrazano colt, a $300,000 purchase at the 2018 Ocala 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, has gone 3-0-2 in his last five starts and is 4-0-1 in six starts on turf.

Eric Cancel will pick up the mount and break from post 5.

RB Racing's Battle Station is a versatile gelding, having won stakes on dirt and notching one on grass last out with a 1 1/4-length triumph in the Lucky Coin on September 6 at Saratoga Race Course.

Four of Battle Station's six career wins have come on the turf, where the son of Warrior's Reward made his debut in September 2017 before making six consecutive main track starts, compiling stakes wins in the 2017 Bertram F. Bongard at Belmont and the 2018 Rego Park at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Battle Station ran predominantly on dirt in 2019 and the first half of 2020. The now 5-year-old has run five straight races on the turf, including his last two when transferred into the care of trainer Rob Atras, who saw his charge forwardly placed in the Lucky Coin before finishing strong to garner a career-high 94 Beyer last month just nine days after running fifth on August 28 at the Spa.

"He came out of the race good. He ran back in just a week, so we backed off him for a little while and let him recover, and it seems like he came out of it good," Atras said. "He runs pretty much over anything. Dirt, turf, off-track; he has a lot of ability and a lot of heart. He doesn't really have a lot of quirks. He goes out there and he' all business all the time. It's nice. It makes my job a lot easier."

Atras originally took over the training duties in the summer and saw Battle Station win a $25,000 optional claimer on July 15 at Delaware Park. He stayed in the Mid-Atlantic, with Daniel Velazquez training him to a third-place effort in a $50,000 optional claimer on August 15 at Parx, before heading back to Atras.

"I had him for a little while and he stayed down there with Danny Velazquez and then he came back to me, and when he came back from Danny, he was always in good condition," Atras said. "His weight has been good and his coat has been good. Even though he was a bit of a longshot last time, we've always been high on the horse and thought he had a lot of ability."

Kendrick Carmouche, aboard for the Lucky Coin, will have the return call from post 8.

Added Atras: "I think Battle Station can be on the lead, which isn't typical and I don't necessarily expect that, but he has enough tactical speed where he can sit close and still have a pretty good kick at the end, and I think he can come from a few lengths back, too, so he's very versatile."

Peter Brant's Fog of War, winner of the 2018 Grade 1 Summer at Woodbine, made his return to the racetrack off a 12-month layoff when he ran sixth in an optional claimer going one mile on the Saratoga turf August 1.

The $400,000 purchase at the 2017 Keeneland September Sale started his juvenile campaign with two wins, including a three-quarter length score in the Summer going one mile, but made just three starts as a sophomore, with his previous appearance a sixth-place effort in the Grade 1 Secretariat in August 2019 at Arlington Park.

Returning to Belmont for the first time since running second in the Manila in July 2019, Fog of War will pick up jockey Manny Franco's services, drawing post 7.

Chewing Gum ran twice at the Saratoga summer meet, finishing fourth when sprinting in the Grade 3 Troy on August 8 and returning two weeks later to run last-of-nine in the one-mile Grade 1 Fourstardave. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Chewing Gum, owned by Wachtel Stable, Pantofel Stable and Jerold Zaro, has been competitive in most of his turf starts, posting a 2-1-4 ledger.

Hall of Famer Javier Castellano will be in the irons from post 1.

David Palmer's Wet Your Whistle, the winner of the Karl Boyes in August on the Presque Isle Downs' synthetic track, is also a Grade 1 winner on turf, having captured the 2019 Highlander at Woodbine for trainer Michael Trombetta.

After an 11-month respite, the 5-year-old gelded son of Stroll returned to win a stakes at the Erie, Pennsylvania-based track before running sixth in the Laurel Dash on September 7. Racing at Belmont for the first time since 2018, Wet Your Whistle will have Jose Ortiz ride from post 4.

Rounding out the field is Pulsate, the runner-up to Battle Station in the Lucky Coin, for conditioner Robert Ribaudo [post 9, Junior Alvarado]; Backtohisroots, a last-out winner against optional claimers for trainer John Terranova [post 3, Jose Lezcano]; Holiday Stone, who has won three of his last five, including besting optional claimers on September 7 at Colonial Downs for trainer Eddie Kenneally [post 2, Dylan Davis]; and Big Wonder, who won on September 18 at Belmont and will be making his first third start of the fall meet [post 6, Luis Cardenas].

Atras entered Chateau for the main track only.

The Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational is slated as Race 9 on Sunday's 10-race program, which offers a first post of 12:50 p.m. Eastern. America's Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the fall meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete America's Day at the Races broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the fall meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, NYRA Bets is currently offering a $200 new member bonus in addition to a host of special weekly offers. The NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.


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