ELMONT, N.Y. – Jay Oringer, Jack Bick, Al Bianchi Racing, Adam Bayroff and Mike Maturo’s multiple graded-stakes placed Piedi Bianchi will look to continue her recent good run of grass form when facing males for the first time in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational at six furlongs on the inner turf for 3-year-olds and up at Belmont Park.
A pair of Grade 1, $500,000 stakes highlight Saturday’s card at Belmont with the Woodward for 3-year-olds and up going a one-turn 1 1/8 miles on Big Sandy; and the Champagne for 2-year-olds running one mile in a prestigious race, affording a spot in the Grade 1, $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to the winner. The lucrative card is bolstered by the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational along with the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for juvenile fillies.
Trained by Carlos Martin, Piedi Bianchi was named the 2020 Indiana Horse of the Year for a campaign that included a runner-up effort in the Merrillville and a second career score in the Frances Slocum at Indiana Grand. The versatile mare also posted a win in the six-furlong Correction last March on the Big A main track.
The now 6-year-old Indiana-bred daughter of Overanalyze, who is multiple Grade 1-placed on dirt, has re-focused on turf racing in her current campaign, posting a game second to Change of Control in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Intercontinental in June at Belmont.
The talented grey, a four-time winner on the main track, finished second in the off-the-turf Perfect Sting at one-mile on a sloppy and sealed Belmont main track in July ahead of a 2 1/2-length score over multiple stakes winner Lead Guitar and graded-stakes placed Robin Sparkles last out in the 5 1/2-furlong Smart N Fancy over yielding turf at Saratoga Race Course.
Martin credited Oringer with the change of direction for Piedi Bianchi.
“She’s really stepped up her game and Jay had emphasized to me her numbers on the turf and the way she gets into a race, it seems like she does it so easily,” Martin said. “She’s so tactical. She doesn’t have to be too far away. She breaks out of there and gets a good spot and places herself accordingly. She has a good kick, which you need in these turf sprints. She really finishes off her races.”
Piedi Bianchi was sent to post as the third choice in a compact field of four in the Smart N Fancy, tracking the early speed of Robin Sparkles from second position before taking control inside the eighth pole en route to a 2 1/4-length score.
“She did it quite convincingly. We had got some rain on the turf course and it seems like she handles any type of turf, so it’s a big advantage to have,” Martin said. “She’s one of those Rodney Dangerfield types. I think she just doesn’t get the respect she’s due. But she showed it on the racetrack and won easy. She beat a nice field of mares and did it on the biggest stage at Saratoga on Alabama Day. I was very proud of her.”
Martin said Piedi Bianchi will be cross-entered in the $150,000 Cardinal, a 1 1/16-mile main track event for Indiana-bred fillies and mares slated for October 6 at Indiana Grand. The connections will examine both options before making a final decision where to run.
“She’s doing great. She’s come out of her last race really well,” Martin said. “Jay has been great helping me manage the filly and she’s ready to go either way.
“She’s really been flourishing on the turf,” Martin added. “I think she deserves a chance to run against the best, so if she stays here I’m fine with that.”
Charles Roberts is named to ride from the inside post.
Lael Stables’ Arrest Me Red won the 5 1/2-furlong Mahony last out by a neck over firm Saratoga turf while making her debut for trainer Wesley Ward. The 3-year-old Pioneerof the Nile bay won the six-furlong Atlantic Beach in November on the Big A turf for former conditioner Arnaud Delacour.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will pilot Arrest Me Red from post 3.
Christophe Clement saddled the winner of three of the previous five runnings of the Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, scoring with Pure Sensation  and Disco Partner [2017-18].
He will be represented Saturday by Oak Bluff Stables’ Therapist, a stakes winner at state-bred and open company, who was scratched out of Friday’s off-the-turf Ashley T. Cole.
The 6-year-old Freud chestnut, bred in the Empire State by Oak Bluff Stable and Clement, will be in search of his first win since the Artie Schiller in November 2020 at Aqueduct. The ultra-consistent gelding, who boasts a record of 26-9-3-6, has won at least one stakes race every year since his 2-year-old season in 2017.
Therapist enters from a game runner-up effort in the restricted West Point, rallying to finish a nose back of stablemate City Man in the 1 1/16-mile turf test on August 27 at Saratoga.
Tyler Gaffalione has the call from post 5.
Gatsas Stables’ Backtohisroots stumbled at the start of last year’s Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational, unseating Jose Lezcano. The 5-year-old Mark Valeski gelding returned to action off nearly a one-year layoff last out with a runner-up effort to returning rival Pulsate in the 5 1/2-furlong Lucky Coin on September 3 at the Spa.
Luis Saez retains the mount from post 2.
Rounding out the field are Lucky Coin-winner Pulsate [post 7, Manny Franco]; 2019 Awad victor Buy Land and See [post 4, Jose Ortiz]; Guildsman [post 6, Ricardo Santana, Jr.], winner of last year’s Grade 3 Franklin Simpson at Kentucky Downs; Grade 1 Jaipur runner-up Chewing Gum [post 9, Eric Cancel], and Belgrano [post 8, Junior Alvarado], last-out winner of the Rainbow Heir at Monmouth.
The Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational is slated as Race 9 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the fall meet at Belmont Park on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/tv-schedule.
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Keith McCalmont/NYRA Press Office
Photo: Piedi Bianchi winning the Smart N Fancy Stakes at Saratoga on August 21, 2021 with Tyler Gaffalione aboard. (Susie Raisher)
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