ELMONT, N.Y. - Sunday's card at Belmont Park will be highlighted by a pair of New York-bred juvenile stakes races - the $150,000 Bertram F. Bongard and $150,000 Joseph A. Gimma - which will both be contested at seven furlongs on the main track, and serve as a prelude for the Sleepy Hollow and Maid of the Mist, to be run on October 18, Empire Showcase Day.
The Bongard will feature a promising collection of New York-bred 2-year-olds, headed by the Todd Pletcher-trained Bullheaded Boy.
Bullheaded Boy, the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, debuted over a sloppy racetrack on July 31 at Saratoga in a five-furlong dash. The son of Bullsbay prompted the pace that day before edging clear to prevail by a half-length. The Gary Barber color-bearer made his next start in the Funny Cide Stakes for New York-breds at 6 Â½ furlongs, but was no match for the talented pair of Upstart and Bustin It and finished third, beaten 9 Â¼ lengths.
Tizquick, trained by John Kimmel for GoldMark Farm, also had the misfortune of encountering Upstart in his first start. The $50,000 yearling purchase debuted on August 15 at the Spa, and was beaten 5 Â¼ lengths by Upstart in a 5 Â½-furlong affair.
Junior Alvarado will be back aboard Tizquick, who is 5-1 on the morning line and drew post 4.
The addition of blinkers helped Saratoga Heater immensely in his second start, and continued improvement could be possible in the Bongard. Both of the Temple City colt's first two starts came over sloppy racetracks at the Spa, but produced starkly different results.
In his debut, Saratoga Heater was beaten 10 Â¼ lengths by Bullheaded Boy, but won by 2 Â¼ lengths at second asking equipped with blinkers for the first time.
Previously trained by Al Stall, Saratoga Heater will go out for Lisa Lewis, and will be ridden for the first time by Joel Rosario. The bay colt sits at 7-2 morning line and drew the rail.
Rounding out the field are Banana Thief, who broke his maiden on turf in his latest start, Market Conduct, a 2 Â½-length winner of a maiden race on August 10 at the Spa for trainer Chad Brown, and Chloe's Wonderboy, who took a $25,000 maiden claimer on August 30 at Parx Racing.
The Gimma, which is restricted to fillies, is headlined by impressive debut winner Temper Mint Patty. The Congrats filly broke her maiden by a neck on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course in a gritty performance for trainer Dale Romans. She tracked a swift pace along the inside that day, was put to a drive rounding the far turn, and overhauled My Super Nova, who will also contest the Gimma, in the final jumps.
"I wish they all were as easy to train as her," said Romans, who trains Temper Mint Patty for Mark Stanley. "She has a lot of talent, and hopefully will improve off [her debut]. She was so professional already, and she's just been staying the course since that race. [Seven furlongs] won't be a problem for her. She sat behind horses, took dirt, and came running."
Temper Mint Patty, 4-1 on the morning line, drew the rail and will be ridden again by Irad Ortiz, Jr.
My Super Nova will represent trainer George Weaver and R.A. Hill Stable in the Gimma. The daughter of Super Saver dueled through strong fractions in her unveiling on August 29, but succumbed late to Temper Mint Patty.
Joel Rosario takes the return call on My Super Nova, 7-2 on the morning line, and the pair will depart from post 6.
The Gimma will also feature stakes winner Myfourchix, 3-1 on the morning line. The bay filly, trained by Rick Schosberg for Clear Stars Stable, commenced her career with a strong second-place finish on July 30 at Saratoga. Rather than enter her back in a maiden race, Schosberg decided to take a shot in the 6 Â½-furlong Seeking the Ante Stakes on August 24 at the Spa, and was rewarded with a three-length victory.
Cornelio Velasquez will again ride Myfourchix, and the duo drew outermost post 7.
The field will also be joined by Hard to Stay Notgo, a sharp maiden winner on August 6 at Saratoga, Evrybdymstgetstonz, runner-up in the Lady Finger Stakes at Finger Lakes in her most recent outing, and Freudie Annie and Majestic Bloom, who broke their maidens on turf at first asking.