Volponi Returns at Belmont

For the first time since his shocker in the Breeders’ Cup Classic last Oct. 26,Volponi will run again, in today’s eighth at Belmont Park.

A 43-1 shot when he beat Medaglia d’Oro and 10 others by 6 1/2 lengths in the Classic, Volponi, a 5-year-old son of Cryptoclearance, is 4-5 on the morning line against six opponents in the $56,000 allowance at seven furlongs.

Volponi will scratch today if the track isn’t to trainer Phil Johnson’s liking and run instead in Saturday’s $100,000 Bold Ruler Handicap.

Jose Santos, who is living high after his victory with Funny Cide in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, retains the mount on Volponi, who had two other victories in 2002 before the Classic. He also won a seven-furlong allowance at Belmont and the Poker, a Grade III, at one mile on the Belmont turf.


Fitted with blinkers for his biggest win last fall, the bay will race without them if he starts today, but he won both the Poker and the Pilgrim (as a 2-year-old) without blinkers.

Volponi’s main opposition might well be Speightstown, a 5-year-old son of Gone West. He has been away since Aug. 3, 2001, but has won four of eight and is back in the barn of high-percentage trainer Todd Pletcher.

Race of the day: Not Phone, who exploded late to win in his first start of 2003 for trainer Bobby Frankel, heads a solid field of eight in tonight’s sixth at Hollywood Park, a $55,000 optional claimer at one mile on the turf. Hollywood Park has a 7:05 p.m. post time tonight and every Friday -- except July 4 -- for the rest of the meet.

One for the road: Havana should get a hot pace to chase in tonight’s sixth at Bay Meadows and could pick up his third lifetime victory for trainer Bill Morey Jr.

Exotically speaking: A pick three using Anima Mundi, Boca Dream and River Bridge in the first, singling Classy Fella in the second and Manonthemove, Flags At Dawn and Arctic Prize in the third.

Winners: Previous day/meet total: 4/30. Money: Previous day/meet total: $17/$156.80. Total money bet: $206.