Belmont Park Hosts The Best Of Empire State On Saturday

More than 100 New York-breds are assembled for a special 11-race card on Saturday at Belmont Park to celebrate the best of New York for the annual Empire Showcase Day.
In addition to eight stakes races worth $1.75 million, anchored by the $300,000 Empire Classic Handicap, Empire Showcase Day will be broadcast on the critically acclaimed Belmont Park Live, airing on MSG and MSG+ from 4-6 p.m. with live coverage and analysis of the $250,000 Sleepy Hollow, $250,000 Empire Distaff and the Empire Classic.

Empire Showcase Day will also mark the return of Taste NY to Belmont, an annual event that connects racing fans with the very best in New York-produced foods, spirits, and crafts. Craft vendors from the Tri-State Area will also be exhibiting. A fun-filled array of family activities including a pumpkin patch, decorating station and a Halloween themed haunted house will be on hand for families to enjoy from 12-4 p.m. Gates will open at 11 a.m., with the first race scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

The consistent Control Group, trained by Rudy Rodriguez for owners Michael Dubb and David Simon, will look to go one better in this year’s edition of the Empire Classic after completing the exacta behind the returning Twisted Tom, who will attempt to become the first back-to-back winner of the 1 1/8-mile race since Spite the Devil in 2004-05.

The 4-year-old Control Group, a bay son of Posse bred by Colts Neck Stable and Alan Goldberg, has hit the board in 16 of his 20 lifetime starts, including nine wins. He exited last year’s runner-up effort in the Empire Classic to win three consecutive stakes events over 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct, including the Grade 3 Discovery and the restricted Alex M. Robb and Mr. Sinatra. The win-friendly fellow has won two of his last three starts and was freshened following a pace-setting third in the restricted Evan Shipman on August 20 at Saratoga.

“He had a nice, solid breeze” Rodriguez said. “He’s coming into the race good. The distance is good for him. We love to run him two turns as he’s more comfortable with that trip.”

Irad Ortiz Jr., who has piloted Control Group to three previous wins, will have the call on the profitable colt who has banked $485,910 in purse earnings.

“He’s comfortable there. Last year he was second or third the whole way around in the Classic,” said Rodriguez. “I’ll let Irad ride the horse. He knows the horse well. Whatever the jockey decides to do is fine with me. Once they break from the gate, everything changes.”

Although Control Group has demonstrated remarkable consistency through three seasons of racing, Rodriguez said the colt could find another level.
“He’s not matured the way I expected. I’d like him to be a little thicker, but he looks good,” said Rodriguez. “Hopefully he keeps growing and we can put a little more weight and muscle onto him.”

Twisted Tom, a 4-year-old gelding, won six of seven starts last season for Belmont Fall Championship meet-leading trainer Chad Brown including five stakes scores that saw the Creative Cause chestnut cross the wire first in the Private Terms, Federico Tesio, New York Derby and Albany ahead of his season-closing Empire Classic coup. The 4-year-old gelding is winless in two starts this season after finishing fourth in the Saginaw and fifth in the Evan Shipman.

The Empire Classic, slated as Race 10 on the 11-race program, features a talented 11-horse field that also includes recent stakes winners Can You Diggit, who captured the Evan Shipman; Pat On the Back who was runner-up in both the Affirmed Success and Commentator before taking down the Saginaw; Hit It Once More, victorious in the Genesee Valley Breeders’ Stakes at Finger Lakes; and Sea Foam who took the spoils in the New York Derby and Albany.

Blugrascat’s Smile, Calculated Risker, Evaluator, Mr. Buff and Wine Not complete the field.

“It’s a big day not only for me, but for all the trainers in New York,” concluded Rodriguez. “We look forward to this day, it’s a showcase day for all the owners and breeders in New York and it’s definitely a very good day for NYRA.”

The post Belmont Park Hosts The Best Of Empire State On Saturday appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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