By Tod Marks
The $75,000 William Entenmann novice stakes at Belmont on Thursday pits a talent-packed, up-and-coming field in the early stages of their jumping careers. Six of the runners have become familiar names over the past few months, largely thanks to their exploits at Colonial Downs in Virginia and at Saratoga over the summer The seventh is a newcomer to American steeplechasing following a career in France.
Trainers Leslie Young and Keri Brion will saddle all but one of the Entenmann starters. Young conditions Van Cushny and Tom Rice’s Booby Trap, who followed up a maiden score at Colonial in July with an easy allowance victory in the finale at Saratoga on Sept. 1. The runnerup in that race, Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Perfect Tapatino, who was beaten just over a length, will try to turn the table on his stablemate in the Entenmann. Young’s third entry is a new addition to the Bruton Street-US’ team.
Bassmatchi, a four-year-old son of Zoffany, has one victory over jumps. Bruton Street purchased the four-year-old based on the recommendation of jockey Tom Garner, who has the mount. Zoffany was also the sire of another Bruton Street runner, Lord Justice, who who won or placed in six starts for the stable.
“Since he arrived, we have been very pleased with his work ethic, and he gave us the impression he would be ready sooner than later,” Young said. “He hasn’t run on lasix so that seems a positive because of the no-lasix policy in New York stake races. Tom seems quite happy with his training and is positive about us taking a shot. If he stays relaxed and takes in the ship to New York and atmosphere of the race track, I am excited to see what he will do.”
The Brion trio comes into the Entenmann off of an enviable summer campaign. Buttonwood Farm’s Baltimore Bucko captured the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick at the Spa in July, where he defeated Sharon Sheppard’s Redicean and Hudson River Farm’s Galway Kid, who are entered in Thursday’s G1 Lonesome Glory. The British-bred five-year-old returned in the G1 Jonathan Sheppard Stakes at the Spa on Aug. 18, where he finished second, beaten 4 3/4 lengths, to his electrifying Buttonwood Farm stablemate, The Mean Queen, a five-year-old mare who takes on steeplechasing’s brightest star, Snap Decision, in the Lonesome Glory.
Irv Naylor’s French Light, who completed the one-two-three finish for Brion in the Sheppard — following a second in the Smithwick — returns for another swing at his first stakes win, in the Entenmann. Also running in the Naylor green, yellow, and white colors is A Silent Player. The lightly raced six-year-old, who began his career last summer, has run into tough company in his two 2021 starts — the Sheppard and Kiser novice stakes — in which he finished off the board.
Completing the field is Bryce Lingo and Leslie Kopp’s Ritzy A.P., trained by Neil Morris. The seven-year-old son of English Channel (and grandson of A.P. Indy) broke his maiden by daylight at Colonial in July, and finished fourth in his allowance debut, at Saratoga, on Aug. 4 His win at Colonial came in his second try over hurdles following a successful career on the flat where he hit the board multiple times in graded stakes competition and earned more than $300,000.
Post time is 2:05 pm – the race can be seen live on America’s Day at the Races, which will stream on the NSA website: www.nationalsteeplechase.com/jump-racing-usa
The full entries are here: www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/entries