Sports

Vann Belvoir to saddle first Breeders' Cup runner | Emerald Downs

For father and son trainers Howard Belvoir and Vann Belvoir, 2013 has been a memorable year.

In August, Howard Belvoir was enshrined in the Washington Racing Hall of Fame. Friday, Vann Belvoir has his first starter in the Breeders' Cup, as Nesso competes in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.

Vann Belvoir, who celebrates his 40th birthday next week, believes Nesso has a chance to make an impact in the race. "We're not in the race just to say we're in the Breeders' Cup," he said.

Dennis Amety (Amety Racing Stables) claimed Nesso for $25,000 from her victorious debut June 21 at Calder Race Course. Amety eventually transferred the horse to Belvoir in California with hopes of entering the Roman Ruler filly in a $40,000 starter allowance race at Del Mar. A minor health issue caused Nesso to miss that race, but Belvoir, after watching the filly train, told the owner she acted like a horse that would thrive on turf.

Belvoir was right, as Nesso finished second at 18-1 in a $100,000 turf race at Del Mar, and second at 10-1 in a $100,000 turf event at Santa Anita. Both times she finished behind the Doug O'Neill-trained Clenor, who is among the top American runners entered against several highly regarded Europeans in the Breeders' Cup.

Vann Belvoir relocated to Southern California two years ago and has made a strong impression while competing against several of the nation's elite outfits, Bob Baffert, John Sadler, O'Neill, etc. Belvoir has 26 wins this year and a solid 16.8 win percentage, and a good showing Friday by Nesso would be great for business.

"The horse is doing great, we just want a fair shot, a clean trip," Belvoir said.

Other Breeders' Cup runners with local ties:

· She's a Tiger is 6-1 in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Bred by Dr. Rodney Orr and co-owned by Dr. Mark Dedomenico, She's a Tiger already is a double stakes winner including the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante, and comes off a head defeat in the Grade 1 Chandelier at Santa Anita. She's a Tiger is out of the dam Shandra Smiles, whose eight career starts all were at Emerald Downs including a win in the 2011 Federal Way Handicap. Hall-of-Famer Gary Stevens rides She's a Tiger for trainer Jeff Bonde.

· Jerre Paxton's Northwest Farms bred Smarty's Echo, 20-1 in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Runner-up in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, Smarty's Echo is out of Silver Echo, whose nine career starts all were at Emerald Downs including runner-up finishes in the 2000 Angie C Stakes and 2001 Kent Handicap. Silver Echo finished fifth in the 2001 Federal Way Handicap won by Shandra Smiles.

· Commander, owned by Glen Todd's North American Thoroughbred Horse Co., takes another crack at Friday's $500,000 Breeders' Cup Marathon at 1 ¾ miles. The 5-year-old Broken Vow gelding comes off a gate-to-wire victory in the $100,000 BC Premier's Handicap at Hastings Racecourse and is 12-for-32 with earnings of $495,612.

· The entire Breeders' Cup will be simulcast at Emerald Downs, with Friday's first race from Santa Anita at 10:40 a.m. and Saturday's first post at Santa Anita 10:15 a.m.

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