After a short break on the New York Racing Association circuit, racing cranks up again today at Belmont Park with the Grade II Bowling Green on the turf and a new addition to the betting menu.
For the first time, NYRA will offer a Pick 5 with a $.50 minimum on races 1-5. The takeout is 15 percent.
The stakes schedule for the fall meet is worth $9.5 million, of which $3.4 million will be available in six races on Super Saturday, Sept. 28, each of which is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In,” highlighted by the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup.
Last year, four horses who competed on Super Saturday went on to win Breeders’ Cup races, including Fort Larned (Classic), Royal Delta (Ladies’ Classic), Little Mike (Turf) and Zagora (Filly & Mare Turf).
Zagora went on the win the female turf championship to become the second Eclipse Award winner for Mechanicville native Chad Brown as a head trainer.
He has one of the top picks in the mile-and-a-quarter Bowling Green — Hyper, who is 5-2 on the morning line after winning the John’s Call at Saratoga Race Course on July 31.
The 7-5 favorite is Boisterous, who was on a nice roll this season before finishing eighth to Big Blue Kitten, trained by Brown, in the Grade I Sword Dancer at Saratoga.
“He didn’t run any good in the 2011 Sword Dancer or last year’s Arlington Million, so I hope he just didn’t like training at Saratoga,” trainer Shug McGaughey told NYRA. “He’s always run well in the fall.”
Boisterous will break from the rail in the six-horse field, just inside of Quick Casablanca, who was third in the John’s Call.
“Obviously, it’s a very ambitious spot,” said Christophe Clement, the trainer of Quick Casablanca. “Last time was a mile and five-eighths, and this time, we’re going a mile and a quarter. We won’t be too far from the pace.”
Breaking from the outside will be Finnegans Wake, owned in part by Ray Bryan of Saratoga Springs through Donegal Racing.
Finnegans Wake hasn’t won since June of last year, but has been fourth in three straight Grade I races, the Manhattan and Man o’ War at Belmont and the Arlington Million three weeks ago.
Another new wager that will begin on Thursday is a joint Pick 4 coupling the last two races at Belmont with the first two races at Penn National.
It will be offered every Thursday through Oct. 24, and will have a $.50 minimum with a 15 percent takeout.
AROUND THE TRACKS
Churchill Downs opened on Friday and has four stakes on today’s card, including graded stakes at a mile and a sixteenth for 2-year-olds — the Iroquois and Pocahontas.
The Iroquois field includes Tapiture, who was second to Hopeful winner Strong Mandate in a maiden race at Saratoga three weeks ago.
Pants On Fire is 2-1 in the Grade III Ack Ack off a win in the Grade II Monmouth Cup.
Illinois Derby and West Virginia Derby winner Departing, who was sixth in the Preakness, is the even-money favorite in the Grade II Super Derby at Louisiana Downs.
Among the six he’ll face is Bashaar, who is coming off a fourth in the Jim Dandy.
Brown has Saint Vigeur, second in the Peter Pan and second in the Dwyer, as the 7-5 favorite in the Grade III Kent on the turf at Delaware Park.
HERE AND THERE
Halfmoon native Brian Nadeau of horseplayernow.com won the meet-long Huddie handicapping contest during Saratoga, beating almost 200 rivals from around the country. First place was worth $8,198. . . .
Winslow Homer, who won the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park and Curlin at Saratoga last year, has been retired to stand at Journeyman Stud near Ocala, Fla.
Donegal Racing’s O’Prado Again, who won the 2011 Grade II Remsen at Aqueduct, has been retired to Darby Dan Farm.