Belmont Notes: Pletcher readies Turf Triple contenders

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher returned to Belmont Park early Saturday morning from Saratoga to oversee turf works for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the newly created Turf Trinity, headlining the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival that will be broadcast live on NBC.

Posting his third breeze on the inner turf since finishing third in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 1, Social Paranoia, for owners The Elkstone Group, worked in company with Wertheimer and Frere’s Spinoff as the pair completed four furlongs in 48.80 seconds.

Social Paranoia broke his maiden in his sixth career start in March to kick off his 2019 campaign after finishing third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim in September. Following his maiden score, he finished third in the Grade 2 American Turf on May 4 at Churchill Downs.

“I thought it was a good work for him,” said Pletcher. “He’s run well all three times this year. I’m hoping a mile and quarter will give him a little bit of a better chance. I think it’s a very competitive race, but at his best he’s very good. I don’t think he has an electrifying turn-of-foot, so I think the mile and a quarter distance should help him.”

Spinoff, a son of Hard Spun, who had his second breeze on the turf Saturday, is preparing to make his first career start on the grass after starting his Triple Crown campaign with an 18th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Last out, Spinoff finished sixth, defeated less than three lengths, in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.

“I thought both of his turf works were good,” said Pletcher. “Trying him on the turf was something that was always in the back of our minds. Assuming everything is good coming out of this work, we’ll point for the Belmont Derby.

“I’m not committing to a turf campaign yet,” continued Pletcher. “Even if he runs well, that doesn’t mean he’s going to stay on the turf. I was looking at options following the Belmont as I’m not sure he gave me everything he had in that race. By the time I walked back to the barn, he wasn’t blowing hard or drinking any of his water. He was only beaten a couple of lengths but watching him comeback and cool out and bounce out the race I’m not sure he gave me everything, so we’ll see how he performs in here.”

Currently first on the reserve list for the Belmont Derby Invitational, St. Elias Stable’s Clint Maroon breezed four furlongs in 48.70 seconds on the inner turf in company with Starlight Racing’s 3-year-old graded stakes winner Sombeyay.
Also entered for the $100,000 Manilla on July 4th, Pletcher said he would enter Clint Maroon in the Belmont Derby if he gets into the field when entries are taken on Wednesday, July 3rd.

“We’re going to keep an eye on the [Belmont] Derby and would consider entering him back in there as well,” said Pletcher. “I think a mile and quarter could work. He’s run well at a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth.”

Pletcher breezed Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational winner Marconi in company with Grade 1 Santa Anita Gold Cup winner Vino Rosso as the pair went four furlongs in 48.70 on the Belmont training track.

Marconi, on a three-race win streak with victories in the Skip Away at Gulfstream and Flat Out at Belmont, is pointed at the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban on July 6, as part of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, while Vino Rosso is training towards the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3 at Saratoga.

“I thought both horses worked very well,” said Pletcher. “They make good workmates. Marconi seems to be in a good rhythm at the moment, his confidence is at an all-time high and he just seems to be improving. I don’t think six months ago he would have been capable of breezing with a horse as good as Vino Rosso and staying with him the whole way. He’s shown us hints at times that there was something there, but he wouldn’t always deliver. Since winning the Skip Away and coming back and winning his next two, he just seems to be in a really good groove at the moment.

“Being a half-brother to Mucho Macho Man, who got better as he got older and a son of Tapit, sometimes they take a little while to mentally get it all together,” added Pletcher. “We know he likes Belmont after his last two wins here and the Suburban is a prestigious race with a good purse for a horse with a stallion’s pedigree. Vino Rosso will ship to Saratoga tomorrow to begin preparations for the Whitney.”

Robert and Lawana Low’s graded-stakes placed 3-year-old Intrepid Heart posted his first workout since finishing eighth in the Belmont, covering four furlongs in 50.75 seconds on the Belmont training track on Saturday.

Pletcher said Intrepid Heart is targeting a start in the either $100,000 Curlin on Friday, July 26 or the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 27.

“He had his first work back today,” said Pletcher. “Purposely, we went a little bit on the easy side. We’ll play it by ear. He’s eligible for the Curlin and Jim Dandy so we’ll see how he trains.”

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Master Fencer to be reunited with jockey Suguru Hamanaka G1 Belmont Derby Invitational

Katsumi Yoshizawa’s homebred Master Fencer, trained by Koichi Tsunoda, competed in the two-thirds of the Triple Crown with a rail-rallying sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and a wide-rallying fifth in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, just a head shy of Tax for fourth.

The Japanese-bred son of Just a Way remained in New York following the Belmont Stakes effort and has continued to train well for his return to turf in the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational set for July 6.

Training assistant Yosuke Kono, who traveled with Master Fencer through the Triple Crown run, which included an extended stay at Keeneland following the Derby, said Master Fencer enjoyed a good training session Saturday on the Belmont dirt training track.

“I let him loosen up his muscles and then did a lap and a half with a light gallop on the training track,” said Kono via translator Sean Toriumi.

Master Fencer, previously piloted by Julien Leparoux, will be reunited with jockey Suguru Hamanaka for the Belmont Derby.

Hamanaka was aboard for both of Master Fencer’s wins in Japan. Hamanaka will jog Master Fencer on the turf on Tuesday and then breeze the colt on the dirt training track Wednesday.

Master Fencer made a pair of starts on turf in Japan finishing second and fourth, both in events at the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Belmont Derby. Last Sunday, the chestnut galloped over the Belmont turf for the first time.

“It went very well. He seemed very refreshed and energetic out there,” said Kono. “He’s run twice before on turf in Japan and he felt better this time on the turf than he did back home in Japan. He’s doing well and seems very happy here.”

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Japanese-bred Jodie arrives for G1 Belmont Oaks Invitational

Tadakazu Obama’s Jodie, a daughter of Daiwa Major bred in Japan by Northern Farm, arrived at Belmont Park at 4 a.m. Saturday morning to prepare for the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational on July 6.

“She shipped well and we’re very satisfied with how she has settled in,” said racing manager Hiroshi Ando. “We’re happy with how she has responded to her first international flight.”

The talented bay, currently in the care of training assistant Hiroshi Kawano, will clear quarantine early Monday morning when both trainer Hirofumi Toda and jockey Miyabi Muto are slated to arrive.

“We will be able to train on Monday morning and hope to breeze five furlongs on the grass on Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Ando.

Jodie, a veteran of nine starts all in Japan, graduated on debut in Tokyo in June 2018 and followed up with a fourth in the Group 3 Niigata Nisai at Niigata at one mile [1,600 meters] on the turf. In November, Jodie captured the Akamatsu Sho over one mile of firm turf at Tokyo in November, but was off-the-board in the Group 1 Hanshin Juvenile Fillies to close out her juvenile campaign.

In February, Jodie ran third in the one-mile Group 3 Daily Hai Queen Cup at Tokyo and then stretched out to 1 1/4 miles (2,000 meters) in April to finish third in the Group 2 Sankei Sports Sho Flora Stakes at Tokyo.

Jodie arrives in New York from a 14th-place run in the 1 1/2-miles (2,400 meters) Group 1 Japanese Oaks.

Kawano said a turn back in distance for the Belmont Oaks should suit Jodie.

“I think 2,000 meters will be suitable for her,” said Kawano. “She’s really improved a lot since the Oaks and has gotten better with every run.”

The Turf Tiara continues Friday, August 2 at Saratoga Race Course with the inaugural $750,000 Saratoga Oaks, held at 1 3/16-miles (1,900 meters) on the Saratoga lawn and broadcast live nationally on FS2, kicking off Whitney weekend festivities.

* * *
Concrete Rose training well ahead of G1 Belmont Oaks

Multiple graded-stakes winner Concrete Rose continues to train well into the Grade 1, Belmont Oaks Invitational, trainer George ‘Rusty’ Arnold said.

Owned by Ashbrook Farm, Concrete Rose last raced when handing fellow Belmont Oaks aspirant Newspaperofrecord her first loss in the Grade 3 Edgewood at Churchill Downs. Since then, the daughter of Twirling Candy has recorded a quartet of works over the turf at Arnold’s Keeneland base, the most recent of which was a half-mile move in 50 seconds flat on June 23.

Concrete Rose was an impressive first-out winner on the Saratoga turf as a 2-year-old last August at 12-1 odds and followed up with a graded stakes triumph in the Grade 2 Jessamine at Keeneland. Her only loss in five career starts was a distant eighth behind Newspaperofrecord in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.

Unbeaten in two starts as a sophomore, Concrete Rose started her campaign by winning the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs defeating stakes winners Blowout and Winter Sunset.

“Everything has been great,” Arnold said. “We picked this spot out and this is such a great series for 3-year-old fillies that NYRA has put together. Chad [Brown’s] filly [Newspaperofrecord] was coming off the shelf last time so we had a bit of an edge, but she’ll be coming in with two races under her belt, so she’ll be a little bit tougher this time.”

Arnold said that Concrete Rose is a very well behaved filly around the barn.
“She’s a lovely filly,” Arnold said. “She’s very kind and easy to be around. She doesn’t have any quirks to her and has been a pleasure to have in the barn.”
Concrete Rose, bred in Kentucky by Ron Patterson, is out of the Powerscourt broodmare Solerina. She is scheduled to ship to Belmont Park on Wednesday.

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Amoss confirms Lone Sailor for G2 Suburban

Trainer Tom Amoss plans on sending graded stakes winner Lone Sailor to Belmont Park for the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban, one of six graded events scheduled for the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival on July 6.

The G M B Racing-owned son of Majestic Warrior has placed in three of his four starts this year, all against graded stakes company. Following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds, he ran a closing second to Quip in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap three weeks later before shipping to California to run a late-closing third in the Grade 1 Gold Cup at Santa Anita on May 27.

“His last two races were very competitive, so we have a good reason to come up there,” Amoss said.

The only graded stakes victory in Lone Sailor’s 19-race career was a narrow triumph in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby last September at Remington Park, where he sat well off the pace, came under strong urging around the far turn and made a five-wide move to get his nose on the wire first over stakes winner Believe in Royalty.

Amoss spoke highly of his efforts in the Oklahoma Derby and the Oaklawn Handicap two starts back, the latter of which registered a career-best 98 Beyer Speed Figure.

“It’s been a learning experience for me as well as for the horse,” Amoss said. “His races at Oaklawn and in the Oklahoma Derby were breakthrough races for him. Santa Anita is a hard track to close on, so we’re looking to try him again for sure.”

Lone Sailor is 0-for-4 at ten furlongs but Amoss noted that he has a tendency to be pace dependent and said there could be enough pace to set things up in his favor.

“We think the distance is within his wheelhouse,” Amoss said. “What he does in the race really depends on how it all sets up and judging by the list of probables, I think there’s a potential for some pace.”

Lone Sailor will be adding blinkers for the Suburban. He raced in the hood once before in last year’s Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds, finishing ninth.

“He will be wearing blinkers. We tried it with him once and it didn’t work out so well, but he’s an older horse now so he’s developed and he’s more mature,” Amoss said. “In the Lecomte we were hellbent on him being in a different spot. This time, hopefully you’ll see him in the same zip code as the rest as opposed to last time.”

Jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. piloted Lone Sailor to a close fifth-place finish in last year’s Grade 1 Preakness as well as a narrow runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and will return for the Suburban.

Bred in Kentucky by Alexander-Groves-Matz, Lone Sailor is out of the unraced Mr. Greeley broodmare Ambitious. He was purchased for $120,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016.

* * *
Dyna Passer ready for step-up in class in G1 Belmont Oaks

Woodslane Farm’s Dyna Passer is training well and remains on target for the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational, trainer Tom Albertrani said Saturday.

The Lemon Drop Kid filly broke her maiden at fifth asking last out, posting a one-length score in a 1 3/8-mile route over Belmont’s inner turf course labeled good. In her sixth career start, Dyna Passer will make her stakes debut, taking the step up in class to compete against some of the top 3-year-old turf fillies in the 1 ¼-mile opening leg of the newly implemented Turf Tiara series.

“She’ll be taking a big step forward off a maiden win, but we’ve been really impressed with her,” Albertrani said. “The one thing we know for sure is she can get the distance. We’re hoping to see her move forward off her last race and go from there. The best-case scenario is the weather is good and we can get a good, honest run from her.”

Since moving to turf in February, Dyna Passer has never finished off the board in three starts, running second to Sister Kitten at 1 1/8 miles on February 17 at Gulfstream Park before being placed third on April 13 at 1 1/6 miles on the same track. In her Belmont debut last out, she rallied from seventh under jockey Jose Ortiz, besting Decorating and Beau Belle, who dead-heated for second.

After making her first two career starts on dirt, Albertrani switched her to the grass. A half-sister to Sadler’s Joy, a three-time graded stakes winner who captured the 2017 Grade 1 Sword Dancer for Albertrani, Dyna Passer’s pedigree suggested the transition could play to her strengths.

“We liked the way she was training, we just thought we’d experiment first time and know right away if she would handle it or not. She ran a solid third [in her first start December 13 at Gulfstream] but it was on a wet track, so she might have handled it better than her second start [January 16 at Gulfstream] when it was totally dry and she just didn’t pick up her feet that day. We made the switch to grass after that.”

The Belmont Oaks is part of NYRA’s Turf Triple series that launches on Stars & Stripes Day with the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational for 3-year-old males and the Belmont Oaks for fillies. The second leg of the Turf Tiara will take place with the Grade 1, $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 2 at the Spa and conclude with the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational on September 7 at Belmont.

The Belmont Oaks is expected to draw a talented field of top domestic and international talent, including the possibility of the Chad Brown-trained Café Americano, Cambier Parc and Newspaperofrecord and foreign shippers Coral Beach and Fleeting from Aidan O’Brien, among others.

“I think it’s a great series of races to participate in,” Albertrani said. “It draws a good international crowd as well and makes it a really interesting race. It gives the 3-year-old fillies a chance to go long.”

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Plus Que Parfait to go back to turf in G1 Belmont Derby

Trainer Brendan Walsh will be racing Plus Que Parfait back on turf in next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, which is the headlining event for the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, July 6.

The 3-year-old chestnut son of Point of Entry made his career debut on grass when third behind multiple graded-stakes placed Henley’s Joy over the turf at Ellis Park.

Since then, Plus Que Parfait has been up against some of the best on his division defeating eventual graded stakes winners Harvey Wallbanger and Cutting Humor third time out at Keeneland. A victory in the Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby gave him a spot in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, where he finished eighth.

Plus Que Parfait worked over the turf at Churchill Downs twice since the Derby, the most recent breeze was a five-furlong effort on June 26 in 1:00.80.

“He trained well, it looked like he had no problem with it at all,” Walsh said. “He’s obviously a different horse now. It should suit him and the mile and a quarter should suit him as well. It should fit him but we’ll find out for sure next week. It will be interesting to see how he runs.”

Welsh confirmed that Tyler Gaffalione would have the call on Plus Que Parfait, who is scheduled to arrive at Belmont on Tuesday.

French for “more than perfect”, Plus Que Parfait is owned by Imperial Racing and was purchased for $135,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017. He is out of the Awesome Again broodmare Belvedera. A victory in the Belmont Derby would give third-crop sire Point of Entry his first Grade 1 victory as a stallion.

* * *
Moon Colony hoping to eclipse G1 Belmont Derby rivals

John Oxley’s Moon Colony, last out winner of the Grade 2 Penn Mile for Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Mark Casse, breezed four furlongs Friday on the Belmont main in 48.48 seconds with Dylan Davis up.

Julien Leparoux, aboard for the Penn Mile win, will retain the mount on Moon Colony for the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.

“He went a solo half-mile and did it pretty easy,” said Jamie Begg, Casse’s New York-based assistant. “He’s been doing extremely well. I think he might be doing even better now than he was before the Penn Mile which is encouraging.”

Begg said the Uncle Mo bay, 0-for-2 on the dirt, could earn another shot on the main track down the road.

“Mark and I were talking about him yesterday after the work and he said the horse could probably run on the dirt. I told him that the way this horse was training before the Penn Mile, that if he didn’t run well there, I was going to suggest trying him back on dirt,” said Begg. “But, he ran well and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Moon Colony, who will stretch out to 10 furlongs for the first time in the Belmont Derby, posted consecutive bullet breezes ahead of his Penn Mile win. Begg said the added distance is the only question mark for Moon Colony ahead of his first Grade 1 test.

“I think that’s the only question Mark and I have with the horse, but he hasn’t given us any indication that he wouldn’t like it. There’s no reason to shy away at this point,” said Begg. “He worked pretty quick going into the Penn Mile, so we’ve been slowing down his works a bit but he’s not one of those horses that trains like he won’t get the distance. If you want to slow him down in works, he’ll do it. There’s only so slow he can go because he gets over the ground so well.”

Got Stormy, winner of Grade 3 Ontario Colleen at Woodbine in July, worked four furlongs in 50.20 on Thursday on the Belmont main. A 5-time winner from 13 starts, the Get Stormy chestnut was pointed to the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day but the connections decided to wait for another option.

“We weren’t 100 percent happy with her when she shipped up for the Just a Game and with the horses in that spot, you’d have to be 110 percent to win,” said Begg. “We brought her back and gave her an easy work last week and we’re happy with where she’s at right now.”

Got Stormy is likely to make her next start in a stakes at Saratoga.

Tracy Farmer’s Catch a Thrill and Gary Barber’s Eyeinthesky are pointed to the $100,000 Coronation Cup, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies, on July 14 at Saratoga.

The stakes-placed Catch a Thrill, by City Zip, breezed four furlongs Thursday in 48.45 on the Belmont Park main. Eyeinthesky, winner of the Mizdirection in April at Aqueduct Racetrack, worked four furlongs in 49.06 on Belmont main on Saturday morning.

* * *
Brown battalion breeze at Belmont ahead of Turf Triple

Three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will be well-represented in the first legs of the Turf Triple series with eight invitees combined for the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational.

On Saturday morning, Brown sent out six of those runners – Cambier Parc, Newspaperofrecord, Demarchelier, Digital Age, Rock Emperor and Standard Deviation – to breeze on the Belmont turf.

Last out, OXO Equine’s Cambier Parc and Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord ran 1-2 in the Grade 3 Wonder Again. The duo breezed in tandem on the inner turf on Saturday in 1:00.10.

By Medaglia d’Oro, Cambier Parc boasts a record of three wins from five starts including a score in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride. Her graded stakes winning dam, Canada’s 2007 Horse of the Year Sealy Hill, closed out her career with a runner-up effort to Forever Together in the 2008 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at the Belmont Oaks 10-furlong distance.

Newspaperofrecord, by Lope de Vega, was perfect in three juvenile starts, including a victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The talented bay completed the exacta in both her sophomore efforts.

Belmont Derby invitees Rockemperor and Standard Deviation worked five furlongs together on the inner turf in 1:01.01.

Klaravich Stables’ Standard Deviation captured the Tale of the Cat last out in his turf debut at Monmouth Park. The Curlin bay finished third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October.

Rockemperor, recently acquired by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables, Michael Kisber and Bethlehem Stables, is a promising maiden, who finished second on debut in the Group 3 Prix la Force. Last out, the Holy Roman Emperor bay ran sixth in the Group 1 French Derby.

Peter Brant’s Demarchelier and Klaravich Stables’ Digital Age breezed together through five furlongs in 1:00.40 on the inner turf.

The undefeated Demarchelier, by Dubawi, proved his class last out with a neck score in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge over fellow Belmont Derby contenders Seismic Wave and Social Paranoia.

The undefeated Digital Age, by Invincible Spirit, won the Columbia at Tampa Bay Downs at second asking and last out rallied to win the Grade 2 American Turf over well-regarded A Thread of Blue.

Brown is also represented by Belmont Oaks invitees Cafe Americano and Beautiful Lover.

A Thread of Blue targeting Saratoga campaign; Endorsed will look to make next start in Saratoga

Leonard Green’s A Thread of Blue breezed four furlongs on the Belmont main track on Friday morning, covering four furlongs in 49 seconds flat.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said A Thread of Blue, fourth last out in the Grade 2 Penn Mile, will skip the first leg of the Turf Trinity, the Grade 1 Belmont Derby at a mile and a quarter, with hopes to keep the second leg, the $1 million Saratoga Derby at 1 3/16 miles on Sunday, August 4 or the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame on Friday, August 2.

“He’s doing very well,” said McLaughlin. “We didn’t end up in the [Belmont] Derby, but he worked well and will train on to early August for Saratoga. We’ll look to point to either the Saratoga Derby or the Hall of Fame with him.”

McLaughlin also reported that Godolphin homebred 3-year-old Endorsed, sired by Medaglia’ D’Oro and out of graded stakes winner Dance Card, would look to make his next start in a stakes during the Saratoga meet. Endorsed returned off a more than eight-month layoff to win an allowance race by a length last Sunday at Belmont.

“That was a huge win,” said McLaughlin. “He’s such a well-bred horse. We hope to make a stallion out of him. It was a great comeback race for him and I’m not sure where we’ll go from here.”

McLaughlin said he would consider a number of options at Saratoga including the Curlin [Friday, July 26], the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy [Saturday, July 27], the Grade 2, $200,000 Amsterdam [Sunday, July 28] or the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens presented by Runhappy [Saturday, August 24].

McLaughlin also reported graded stakes winner Qurbaan continued to be in good order following a disappointing eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 8.

Qurbaan breezed four furlongs in 50.80 seconds Saturday morning at Greentree Training Center in Saratoga, and McLaughlin said he would look to enter the 6-year-old in the Grade, $150,000 Forbidden Apple at mile on Friday, July 12 at Saratoga.

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