by Keith McCalmont
Burns Thoroughbred Racing’s Arch Cat will take on graded stakes company for the first time in Saturday’s Grade 3, $100,000 Bold Ruler at Belmont Park.
The 45th renewal of the Bold Ruler in Race 9 headlines a loaded 10-race card that also offers the $80,000 Zagora at 12 furlongs on the Widener turf for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up in Race 6; and the $80,000 Awad at 1 1/16-miles on the inner turf for juveniles in Race 8. First post is 12:40 p.m. Eastern.
Trained by Daniel Velazquez, who notched the first two stakes wins of his career with Laobanonaprayer [Maid of the Mist] and Brooklyn Strong [Sleepy Hollow] on Saturday’s Empire Showcase Day card at Belmont, the 6-year-old Arch Cat will be making his 38th career start in the seven-furlong test for 3-year-olds and up on Big Sandy.
The hard-knocking Arch gelding, who sports a record of 13-3-12 with purse earnings of $363,485, was claimed for $16,000 in June 2019 at Parx and has since won 6-of-14 starts for the new connections.
Velazquez said he has taken a patient approach with Arch Cat’s training routine.
“He’s a horse that came with some bumps and bruises,” said Velazquez. “It wasn’t an equipment change but more of maintenance control with him. A light training program is good for him. He’s an older horse.”
Arch Cat enjoyed a three-race win streak that began in February in a Parx allowance sprint and continued through an optional-claiming score at Delaware Park in July into an impressive stalking effort to win a Laurel Park allowance on August 20 that garnered a 92 Beyer Speed Figure. He finished third last out in a seven-furlong allowance on September 23 at Parx that was won by multiple stakes winner My Boy Tate.
“He’s as fast as anybody,” said Velazquez. “Tactically, he could be second or third off of any pace. I love the seven-eighths distance for him, I think that’s really his cut.”
Kendrick Carmouche, who guided Laobanonaprayer to a patient stalking score in the Maid of the Mist, has guided Arch Cat to three previous victories in four attempts and will be reunited with the bay from post 4.
“Kendrick really clicks with that horse and he was riding him even before I claimed the horse,” said Velazquez.
Marianne Stribling, Force Five Racing, and Two Rivers Racing Stable’s Phat Man enters with back-to-back triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in one-mile tilts at Gulfstream Park from a rallying score in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper on January 25 that garnered a 101 and a closing second in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile that earned a career-best 102.
Trained by Kent Sweezey, the 6-year-old Munnings gelding sports a ledger of 27-7-8-1 with purse earnings of $518,253. He will contest a distance shorter than one-mile for the first time since his December 2016 debut when fifth sprinting 5 ½-furlongs on the Fair Grounds turf.
Phat Man has posted nine breezes at Monmouth Park dating back to August 19 with four bullet efforts, including a sharp three-eighths in 34 flat on October 25 in preparing for his return from an eight-month layoff.
Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, aboard for the Gulfstream Park Mile effort, retains the mount from post 6.
Share the Ride, trained by Antonio Arriaga for owner Silvino Ramirez, is another former claimer looking to make the grade. The 5-year-old Candy Ride gelding was haltered for $16,000 out of a winning effort in an optional-claiming tilt on July 5 at Monmouth.
Two starts back, Share the Ride went gate-to-wire to win the six-furlong Mr. Prospector by 3 3/4-lengths on September 12 at Monmouth. He followed last out with a pacesetting third in the six-furlong Grade 2 Vosburgh Invitational.
Manny Franco retains the mount from post 2.
R. A. Hill Stable’s graded-stakes placed Majestic Dunhill enters in search of his first win in 10 starts since capturing the seven-furlong City of Laurel in November 2018.The 5-year-old Majesticperfection gelding has two seconds and one third from five starts this campaign, including a last-out second in a seven-furlong optional-claiming sprint on September 25 at Belmont that earned a 97 Beyer.
Joel Rosario has the return engagement from post 5.
Rounding out the field are Mihos [post 1, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and Wendell Fong [post 3, Luis Saez].
America’s Day at the Races will present daily television coverage of the 27-day fall meet on FOX Sports and MSG Networks. For the complete America’s Day at the Races broadcast schedule, and additional programming information, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.