Saturday, June 6, 2009

Track may be wet-fast for Belmont

By David Grening
Daily Racing Form

ELMONT, N.Y. -- New York Racing Association officials are hoping to have at least a "wet-fast" main track over which to run the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

Though the forecast for Saturday calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s, the spate of wet weather that has hovered over Belmont Park for the last two days has created extremely sloppy conditions. Friday's 10 races - including the five races scheduled for the turf -- were all run over a sloppy main track.

The damp weather was expected to end by midnight, but as much as two inches of rain could have fallen by then. Training has already been canceled for the main track on Saturday, giving the maintenance crew additional time to work on the surface. First post for Saturday's 13-race card is 11:35 a.m. Post time for the Belmont is 6:27 p.m.

"I would say we should have it wet-fast by then, I want to be a little conservative," Glen Kozak, NYRA's director of racing surfaces said when asked what condition the track would be in for the Belmont. "It depends how long the system stays hanging over the top of us. It was originally supposed to be only until 6 o'clock, but they've backed that up four to six hours already."

According to Kozak, almost an inch of rain fell in the area on Thursday and as of 4 p.m. Friday an additional half-inch of rain fell. Another quarter of an inch to a half-inch of rain was possible before it ended.

Turf racing was canceled Thursday and Friday and track officials already announced that the final two races run after the Belmont Stakes on Saturday would be transferred from the turf to the dirt. There are four other races -- including the Manhattan and Just a Game -- scheduled to be run on the grass.

Wet or dry, Chip Woolley, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner and Belmont favorite Mine That Bird, remains confident in his gelding's chances to win the last leg of the Triple Crown.

"He seems to really get over the racetrack good, so that gave me a lot of confidence," Woolley said Friday morning. "We're ready, it's just a matter if we're ready enough."

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