Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell said he would like to see the Poker Stakes at Belmont Park stay on the turf. But rainfall in the Northeast may prevent that from happening.
Regardless of the surface, the versatile, multiple stakes placed Big Screen will be more than ready. The colt that was trained in Aiken by Legacy Stable’s Brad Stauffer will be breaking out of post position No. 2 for today’s 1-mile race.
The 4-year-old son of 2004 Eclipse Award winner Speightstown is currently conditioned by Tom Albertrani. The gray colt will carry 116 pounds, and is 6-to-1 on the morning line. Big Screen will have a new rider as jockey Luis Saez will be in the irons.
An unlucky second in his last start. It appeared that Big Screen had won the Jaipiur Stakes at Belmont Park on June 7, a race that had been taken off the turf and moved to the main track because of the inclement weather. But the colt was disqualified and placed second after bumping in the stretch with eventual winner Souper Speedy.
“He’s coming into the race great,” Campbell said Wednesday. “I have mixed emotions. I’m anxious to see the horse run on the grass. A strong performance would move him up to the big time. There will be a certain advantage if the race comes off the grass. We won’t have to run against Data Link (the 6-to-5 favorite).”
Big Screen’s ability to run well on multiple surfaces and handle a variety of track conditions makes him a legitimate threat. Campbell, however, would like to see Big Screen find the winner’s circle in an added-money event.
“If the race comes off the grass he can handle the dirt,” said Campbell. “I have mixed emotions if it does come off the grass. There has to be some blue sky in the outlook. He’s been training well. I look for a big race.”
Another Dogwood horse preparing for a return to racing is Palace malice. The 2013 Belmont Stakes winner returned to the work tab Sunday, breezing a half mile in 49.41 seconds over the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course.
“He worked by himself,” said Campbell. “It was a good work on that heavy track. He’s been in Saratoga since June 25th. He’s due to work this weekend, but we’re sweating it out because of the weather. We’re hoping to get in a good work on either Saturday, Sunday or Monday. It will tighten him up for (July) 27th (when the Jim Dandy Stakes will be run). Mike Smith is ready to come across the country to ride him.”
Ben Baugh has been covering the equine industry and equestrian sport for the Aiken Standard since 2004.
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