ELMONT, N.Y. - The highly talented but somewhat fragile Badge of Silver, away from the races for eight months, is slated to make his return Saturday in a $58,000 classified allowance race at Belmont Park.
It will be the first race for Badge of Silver since being turned over to Bobby Frankel in late August. Ronny Werner had trained Badge of Silver, who won his first three career starts by a combined 26 lengths, including a 10-length score in the 2003 Risen Star Stakes.
Plagued by foot problems throughout his career, Badge of Silver has only started twice this year, the last time being a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 General George Handicap at Laurel Park in February. Badge of Silver has been entered twice since, scratching out of the Carter Handicap in April due to keratoma in his foot, and out of an allowance race at Saratoga in August due to a sloppy track.
Frankel had to stop on Badge of Silver for a two-week period in mid-September when the horse developed a quarter crack in his hind left foot.
"I wish I didn't miss 15 days of training, but I got to think with how fit he was before I got him he'll be okay," Frankel said. "The only negative I had with him was he had a quarter crack behind, but he's going good now."
Provided he runs well Saturday, Badge of Silver will likely be pointed to the Grade 1 Cigar Mile at Aqueduct on Nov. 27.
Badge of Silver breaks from the outside post under John Velazquez in the eight-horse field. Mike's Classic, who drew the rail, has enough speed to prevent Badge of Silver from getting loose on the lead. Vinemeister is the best closer in the race.
Full brother to Ghostzapper debuts
About 90 minutes before Frankel saddles Badge of Silver, he will tighten the girth on Aristocrat, a full brother to Ghostzapper, in a seven-furlong maiden race.
Aristocrat shows workouts beginning in April at owner Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm in Ocala, Fla. He was shipped to Todd Pletcher's barn and he showed a steady string of works through early August. Pletcher had Aristocrat entered to race, but was told to scratch the horse and send him back to the farm.
When he returned to the track, Aristocrat went to Frankel, who trains Ghostzapper, also owned by Stronach.
"They put blinkers on him, worked him out of the gate the other day, and they said it was the best he ever worked," Frankel said, referring to a recent work at Saratoga.
The horse to beat in the race is Malheur, a Pletcher-trained colt who finished third as the 7-10 favorite at Saratoga. Malheur was reported to have displaced his palate that day.
Gullo to drop Chavez and train again
Gary Gullo quit training in 2002 to become the agent for jockey Jorge Chavez. Next month, Gullo will quit as Chavez's agent to return to training horses.
Gullo cited his desire to stay in New York year-round and his love for the horses as reasons why he left Chavez. The split becomes effective in early November.
"I missed the horses an awful lot," Gullo said. "I've been around horses since I was 6 years old. I'm going to look at this business a little differently than I did before. My love for the horses is kind of the most important thing in my life right now. I appreciate training horses more. Before, I took it for granted being around the horses all the time."
Chavez, who has 3,966 career victories, confirmed that Harry Hacek will take his book beginning the second week of November. Hacek has represented such top riders as Eddie Delahoussaye, Chris McCarron, Gary Stevens, and Steve Cauthen. Hacek currently represents apprentice David Cohen in Southern California.
Chavez, 42, was the leading rider in New York from 1994-99. In 1999, he won 319 races, including two Breeders' Cup races, and had mount earnings of $17,013,357. In 2001, he won the Kentucky Derby aboard Monarchos.
In March 2002, Chavez suffered a serious back injury when thrown from his mount in the Florida Derby. Chavez suffered through his poorest year in 2003 when he won 154 races from 1,063 mounts. This year, he has 93 wins from 769 mounts.
"I know what I can do, I know I'm in good shape," Chavez said. "I'm a little bit disappointed the way my business is going. Sometimes you need a slap in the face to wake up. I wish me and Gary did better because I love him like a brother."
Bailey 0 for 2 in return
Jockey Jerry Bailey finished fourth aboard both of his mounts in his return to race riding on Thursday. Bailey missed the last six weeks due to a fractured left wrist.
Bailey finished fourth aboard My Muchacha in a six-furlong maiden dirt race. Two races later, Bailey finished fourth aboard 9-5 favorite Soul Star in a 1 1/16-mile turf race.
"It's good to be back," Bailey said. "I feel good. The horses could have run a little better today, but they ran okay."
The day wasn't a total loss for Bailey. Trainer Shug McGaughey confirmed that Bailey would ride Storm Flag Flying in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff.
Smuggler wins debut
The regally bred Smuggler was made the even-money favorite in a six-furlong maiden race with 11 2-year-old fillies. At the top of the stretch, those who wagered on her probably considered tearing up their tickets as Smuggler was last and seven wide.
But Smuggler kicked in down the lane and made up a seven-length deficit in the final furlong to win by one length. Smuggler is a daughter of Unbridled out of the champion mare Inside Information. Her time of 1:11.91 for six furlongs was slow considering maiden claimers covered the same distance in 1:10.10 earlier on the card.
Still, to make up that much ground to win was impressive.
"Just green," trainer Shug McGaughey said when asked about the early stages of the race. "She sort of sees everything. She probably wants to run farther."
Smuggler is only the second foal out of Inside Information to make it to the races. The other one, Manipulator, a 3-year-old colt, is entered in an entry-level allowance race on Saturday.
Two horses were pulled up with injuries in Thursday's opener. Uma Norma, who dueled for the early lead, fractured a left knee and had to be euthanized. Pierian Spring, the 3-1 favorite, bowed a tendon in his right foreleg.
Twelve horses were entered to run in Thursday's nightcap. Two horses were scratched before the race was run. Another horse, Lord and Lady B, clipped heels and unseated jockey Jose Espinoza at the three-sixteenths pole, while a fourth horse, Lady Fencer, was pulled up with an injury to his right foreleg.
Espinoza was taken to a local hospital for back X-rays.
Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom was unable to go out a winner, fading quickly in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday in his last race before retirement.
Ramon Dominguez, a three-time Eclipse Award winner as the leading jockey in North America, retired on Thursday due to a head injury suffered in a fall earlier this year.