Some quick hits on the world of thoroughbred racing:
* The industry got some good news for a change when it was revealed earleir this week that Belmont Stakes numbers were up from two years ago — the last time the race was run without a Triple Crown on the line. Both attendance and on-track handle showed increases, which in this economy is a nice surprise. On-track attendance, understandably higher last year when 94,476 showed up to watch Big Brown go for the Triple Crown, was 52,861 on Saturday — a 12.7 percent increase from the 2007 crowd. On-track handle was up 2 percent from 2007, when Rags to Riches won the Belmont. All-sources handle showed an 18.6 percent spike from two years ago when the nation’s economy was in much better shape.
* Summer Bird’s connections announced this week that the Belmont Stakes winner will race next in the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on Aug. 2. Their next goal will be the Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 29. Summer Bird is currently stabled at Louisiana Downs. If all goes well, Summer Bird could also run in the $750,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 19. Trainer Tim Ice likes the six-week period between the Super Derby and the Breeders’ Cup, which is the ultimate goal for the Birdstone colt.
* Georgie Boy, a top contender for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 7 if he can stay healthy, is back on the track galloping following a minor foot injury that took him out of the Tiznow Stakes at Hollywood Park on April 25 and a possible start in the Met Mile at Belmont Park on May 25. Trainer Kathy Walsh has not mentioned a return target race for the 4-year-old gelding who won the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Santa Anita on Jan. 24 and then came back to take the San Carlos Handicap on Feb. 21 before he was sidelined by a quarter crack.
* The next starts for two of the leading ladies in the sport are set — unbeaten Zenyatta will return in the $300,000 Vanity Handicap at Hollywood Park on June 27 after winning the Milady Handicap while hardly breaking a sweat in her first start of the year, and standout sprinter Indian Blessing will race Sunday in the $70,000-added Desert Stormer Handicap at Hollywood Park while carrying high weight of 124 pounds. Indian Blessing finished second in the Golden Shaheen Stakes in Dubai in her last start in March.