Nite Light did all the work in the 1ÂÂ½-mile, Grade II Brooklyn Handicap, but 17-1 shot Eldaafer got the money. After front-running Nite Light fought off protracted challenges by last year's winner, Delosvientos, and favored Rising Moon, Eldaafer got up in the final two jumps to win by a nose on a sloppy track Friday at Belmont Park.
Eldaafer, ridden by Jorge Chavez, paid $36.20 and created a $48,496 carry-over into Saturday's all-stakes Pick 6, which has a $1-million guarantee. Diane Alvarado trains the 4-year-old gelding, who was timed in 2:31.58 in his third win in four off-track starts.
Friday's five turf races, including the Grade III Hill Prince, were moved to the slop in a card riddled by 31 scratches. Despite the Odds ($17.20), trained by Maryland-based Michael Trombetta, drew away for Jeremy Rose to beat Affirmatif by 7ÂÂ½ lengths in the Hill Prince. The mile time was 1:35.68.
Despite Saturday's forecast for sun and a high of 79, the Widener and inner turf courses probably will be rated soft for the four grass events on a 13-race card that begins at 11:35 a.m. The 12th and 13th races, originally on turf, will be on the dirt instead.
Notes & quotes: Chip Woolley, trainer of Mine That Bird, grew up in Texas and lives in New Mexico. Until this week, he had never been to New York City, where rudeness is an art form. Woolley's take on Manhattan and its traffic: "It's a very large place. I enjoyed it immensely . . . Everyone here, apparently their horns work very well."-- Ed McNamara