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ELMONT, N.Y. – Set to make his first start of the year following an eighth-place finish overseas in the Group 1 Hong Kong Sprint last December, owner Almaddah Abdullah Saeed’s Green Mask will headline a field of twelve in the $100,000 Elusive Quality Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at seven furlongs on the widener turf course on Saturday at Belmont Park.
A 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast, Green Mask has collected three victories from twelve career starts while showing tremendous promise for trainer Wesley Ward. His 2015 season included a pair of third-place finishes in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint in Dubai.
“He ran a very credible race [in Hong Kong] but he didn’t run as nearly as good as he could due to a foot issue,” Ward said. “Following, we sent him down to the farm in Florida for a layoff, and he’s returned good to go.”
Completing a 5 furlong bullet workout in 59.40 seconds at Keeneland on April 24, the 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast will depart from post position 5 as the 2-1 second choice on the morning-line.
New York-bred King Kressa will look to rebound off a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland on October 3 for trainer David Donk and owners Gerald and Susan Kresa. Making his first start at the distance since finishing seventh in last year’s addition, Donk hopes the usually forwardly placed King Kressa will fare better than last year.
“He’s doing really well,” said Donk. “He seems to have come back quite well as a 7-year-old. We don’t have many options for him so that’s why we’re running here, and he ran in this race last year although we were a bit disappointed in the result but he’s been training well coming into the race.”
Known for his front-running style, Donk said he wouldn’t be surprised if King Kressa was to end up very close or on the pace.
“I think he would be pretty close to the pace,” said Donk. “I know he won the Forbidden Apple from off the pace, but this is seven-eighths of a mile and more a sprint. Although, I’ll leave the final decision of where he’ll be up to Jose [Ortiz].
At odds of 4-1 on the morning line, King Kressa will leave from post position 2.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will enter Mosler for owner Adele Dilschneider. Winner of last year’s addition of the Elusive Quality before going on to finish sixth in the Grade 3 Jaipur at Belmont and third in the Grade 2 Highlander Stakes at Woodbine Racetrack, on September 14, the 5-year-old son of War Front raced three-wide to finish sixth in the Kentucky Downs Turf Dash.
Mosler will be ridden by Jose Lezcano and drew the rail at odds of 6-1.
Making his first start from the barn of trainer Chad Brown is A Lot for Amerman Racing LLC. A 4-year-old son of Tapit, he is cutting back in distance and coming off a seventh-place finish on February 13 in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampay Bay Downs. With a two victories from five career starts at Belmont, including a win on the course at the distance last year in the Paradise Creek stakes, A Lot will leave from post 3 at odds of 12-1 on the morning line with Irad Ortiz, Jr. in the irons.
Rounding out the field are Bye Bye Bernie for owners Darrs Inc. and trainer Brendan Walsh who last out finished fifth in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland on April 9; 7-year-old New York-bred Kharafa for trainer Timothy Hills and owners Timothy Pinch and Paul Braverman, is set to make first start of the year; Aztec Brave for trainer Joe Sharp and owner Brad Grady coming off a second-place finish at Gulfstream Park in the El Prado Stakes on December 12; Sandy’z Slew for trainer Rick Schosberg and owners Team Clear Stars Stable; Spartiatis for trainer Leon Blusiewicz; and Big Guy Ian for Antsu Stables and trainer Michael Dilger. Ready for Rye and Stallwalkin’ Dude are entered for the main track only.
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