Belmont Park: Big Screen gets class break
Coming out of a respectable fourth in the Westchester Stakes, Big Screen will get some class relief in Thursday’s $81,000 allowance/optional claiming feature.
Carded as race 2, the one-mile race with third-level conditions attracted four other older males, including 2012 Excelsior winner Marilyn’s Guy; Summer Sunset, who has won or placed in 7 of 8 starts since being claimed last spring; and Forward March, a $2 million colt who relished the slop here last June for Shug McGaughey.
Big Screen showed flashes of ability as a 3-year-old for former trainer Frank Alexander, but the Speightstown colt has raised his game several notches at age 4 for Tom Albertrani. He returned from a layoff at Gulfstream to demolish first-level allowance milers by six lengths, and followed with a fine second to Cigar Street, who later won the Grade 3 Skip Away.
But it was Big Screen’s next performance that wowed race-watchers and had figure-makers checking their stopwatches, when he sped off to win a second-level allowance by better than nine lengths with a Beyer Figure of 110 on the final day of Aqueduct’s inner-track meet.
“He was close to a pretty strong pace in the Westchester, and this is a good race to regroup.” said Albertrani. “If he runs back to his previous race, it could be a confidence booster.”
Marilyn’s Guy has been sidelined for almost 10 months but he returned from a similar absence to win the As Indicated overnight stakes and the Excelsior last year for former trainer Tony Dutrow. The 7-year-old gelding makes his first start for Rudy Rodriguez, and is the lone entrant in for the $75,000 claiming price.
Summer Sunset won allowance races back to back at the turn of the year for Bruce Levine. Since then, he has been knocking on the door with three seconds at this level.
Spa City Fever, winless since taking the 2011 Alex M. Robb at 34-1, completes the field.
Albertrani and Rodriguez square off again in race 6, when they respectively send out Souper Speedy and Dawly in a $72,000 allowance/optional claimer at seven furlongs.
Souper Speedy, a half-brother to Blue Grass and Saranac winner Brilliant Speed, ran second in the 2011 Remsen as a second-time starter. Most recently, he posted a new top Beyer of 95 when third at Gulfstream in his seasonal bow.
“He’s coming off a good race off the layoff,” said Albertrani. “He probably wants to go a little further, but he needs to run. I do want to try the grass with him.”
Dawly has recaptured his best form since being reclaimed, but the stretch runner has run out of racetrack finishing second in all three starts this year.
Rodriguez also entered the speedy Windafull, a run-and-gun type likely to vie for the early lead with Readthebyline. Trained by Richard Schosberg, Readthebyline comes off the fastest race of his career.