Fresh off a 1-2 finish in the Grade 1 United Nations on Saturday, trainer Chad Brown sent out a slew of turf workers Sunday morning at Belmont Park, some in preparation for Stars & Stripes Day on July 7 at Belmont.
Brown’s contingent was led by Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational hopeful Analyze It, who breezed five furlongs in 1:02.76 in company with graded stakes winner Projected. Previously undefeated, including a pair of Grade 3 victories, Analyze It finished second to Catholic Boy on June 2 in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge, the local prep for the 1 ¼-mile Belmont Derby.
“He went great, so he’s on target for the Derby,” Brown said of the Point of Entry colt’s work. “I thought he ran into a really good horse in Catholic Boy in the Pennine Ridge. He ran very well; our horse had no excuse. He might’ve had a little time between races where I could’ve had him a little better. It’s not an excuse, he had every chance to win, but I believe this horse can move forward now that he has some recent fitness in him. I might’ve given him a little too much to do after the Transylvania heading into that race.”
On Saturday at Belmont, Significant Form and Mighty Scarlett put in their final works for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational, going five furlongs in 1:00.50 in company with one another. The Brown pair are both exiting Belmont’s prep for the Oaks, the Grade 3 Wonder Again, in which Significant Form and Mighty Scarlett finished second and third, respectively.
“They both ran well,” Brown said of his fillies’ performance in the Wonder Again. “It was a bit disappointing for Significant Form as the favorite. She had every chance to win turning for home and it just wasn’t her day. I’m confident given the way she’s training that she can rebound off that effort.
“For it being her first try in a stakes race, I thought Mighty Scarlett ran really well,” Brown added. “I think more distance should help her.”
Good Magic Works
On the main track on Saturday, Brown sent out Grade 1 Kentucky Derby runner-up Good Magic, who breezed five furlongs in 1:00.80 in advance of the Grade 1 Haskell. Another runner-up in a Triple Crown race, Gronkowski, who nearly thwarted Justify’s Triple Crown bid in the Belmont, was absent from the worktab this weekend, but should resume training next week, according to Brown.
Completing the Sunday turf works for Brown were A Raving Beauty and Sistercharlie (five furlongs in 1:01.21), Almanaar and Robert Bruce (five furlongs in 1:02.94), Rushing Fall and Quidura (five furlongs in 1:01), and Precieuse and Uni (four furlongs in 49.21). A Raving Beauty and Sister Charlie are being pointed to the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 21 at Saratoga Race Course, Almanaar and Robert Bruce to the Grade 1 Arlington Million, Rushing Fall to the Grade 3, $150,000 Lake George on July 20 at Saratoga, Brown said.
Brown has also penciled in Favorable Outcome for a start in the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship on Stars & Stripes Day. The 4-year-old son of Flatter breezed four furlongs in 49.03 over the Oklahoma training track on Sunday in Saratoga.
“He worked good, so we’ll give it a shot,” said the trainer. “It’s shaping up to be a tough, tough race but we’ll give it a shot. He seems to be doing well.”
La Signare puts in final work ahead of G1 Belmont Oaks; Heart to Heart points to G1 Fourstardave
Graded stakes winner La Signare put in her final breeze before the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks on Stars & Stripes Day July 7, working four furlongs in 49.01 seconds on Belmont Park’s inner turf on a hot Sunday morning.
“I was very happy with all of them. It was a scorcher this morning, but they all seemed to get through the works nicely,” Lynch said. “La Signare had her last little blowout. It was a nice, relaxed half-mile with a good gallop out.”
La Signare won her stakes debut in capturing the Grade 3 Wonder Again by one length over fellow Oaks contender Significant Form on June 7 at Belmont. The French bred Siyouni filly broke her maiden at second asking in her native country before finishing second in her first North American start in an allowance race on April 11 at Keeneland before leading gate-to-wire in the Wonder Again, where she successfully stretched out to 1 1/8 miles.
The Belmont Oaks, contested at 1 1/4 miles, will represent another opportunity for La Signare to go longer.
“She’s training well coming into it, but the test is the mile and a quarter,” Lynch said. “I’m confident. She seems like she has great stamina.”
Oscar Performance came back from a more than seven-month layoff in impressive fashion in winning the Grade 3 Poker on June 17. Bolstered by that 1 ½-length victory in which he set a course and stakes record of 1:31.23, Lynch said the Kitten’s Joy colt is on target for the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 11 at Arlington Park.
The mile distance suited Oscar Performance, who was making his first start since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar. The 4-year-old earned a personal-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure while tying the North American record for one mile on turf, set by Mandurah in 2010 at Monmouth Park.
“He had a nice little half-mile in his first work back, and he’s working towards the Arlington Million,” Lynch said. “He’s done well facing high-caliber horses, and there’s always high expectations with him. It was great seeing him show up the way that he did.”
Oscar Performance is slated to follow the Arlington Million with the Shadwell Mile Turf Mile on October 8 at Keeneland and the Breeders’ Cup Mile on November 3 at Churchill Downs, Lynch said.
Heart to Heart is pointing towards the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave Handicap on August 11 at Saratoga Race Course. After turning 7, Heart to Heart has shown no signs of slowing down, winning the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf on February 10 and the Grade 1 Maker’s 46 Mile on April 13 at Keeneland before running second in the Grade 1 Shoemaker Mile on May 28.
“It was his first work back and he’s about five weeks out from the Fourstardave, so we’ll pick up the work program with him,” Lynch said. “We’re very happy with him. He’s just such an honest horse.”
Hawkish ‘relaxed’ in final work before stretching out in G1 Belmont Derby
Grade 2 Penn Mile hero Hawkish breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds over the Belmont turf course Sunday morning for his final work before Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
Hawkish, a 3-year-old Artie Schiller gelding trained by Jimmy Toner, broke off behind stablemates Manitoulin and Violet Blue with jockey Manny Franco aboard. He tracked that pair through the turn and caught up with them in the stretch. Franco directed his charge to the outside and Hawkish kicked on past the wire on even terms.
“I told Manny to track them,” said Toner. “I said that I want to see how comfortable he is behind other horses and if he gets too close or too anxious, just ease out a bit. I couldn’t ask for more. [He was] five lengths [behind] and sat, sat, sat, and then the closer he got to them, I thought he was going to run over them, but Manny just moved him out a little bit and he went. The main thing was to get him to relax behind horses and it was no problem. [Manny] said he rated perfectly. When he turns into the lane, he said he knows where the wire is and he starts to get aggressive. As long as he settles before that, he’s good, and that’s what he did this morning.”
Sunday’s breeze was Hawkish’s second since his late-running three-length victory in the Penn Mile on June 2 at Penn National Race Course. Last weekend, Hawkish worked a bullet five furlongs on the turf in a dogs-up 59.63.
“He’s doing really well. His attitude’s been good and he’s been training good,” Toner said. “His major breeze was last week and today, we were just trying to do a little maintenance breeze with him but also teach him to relax a little more, which he did.”
Hawkish Goes Distance for First Time
The Belmont Derby will be Hawkish’s first attempt at 1 ¼ miles. Hawkish, owned by Robert LaPenta, AJ Suited Racing Stable, and Madaket Stables, is 3-for-3 at a mile on the grass with his only loss in four career starts coming with a fourth-place finish in his second start in the Grade 3 Palm Beach on March 3 at Gulfstream Park.
“You don’t know until you try. We know he’s a top miler and that’s the unknown factor here, if he can get the mile and a quarter, but we’ll find out,” said Toner. “He gallops a mile and a half every day. I think the key is being rateable. If he isn’t too aggressive early and settles in, I think you’re OK. I think it’s when you get those speed-type or fast horses that are not rateable, or get aggressive, then it’s hard for them to settle in to go a mile and a quarter. So far, he’s shown that he’s OK with everything.”
Recent allowance winner Violet Blue and Manitoulin, winner of the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup last fall and a recent fourth in the Grade 1 Manhattan, completed their half-mile move in 49.94 seconds.
Michael J. Ryan’s Violet Blue, a 4-year-old filly by Americain who rallied from last to win by 4 ¼ lengths on June 13, will be pointed to the $100,000 River Memories at 1 ½ miles on the turf on Sunday, July 8, said Toner.
Manitoulin, a 5-year-old son of Awesome Again, is expected to make his next start in the Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 28 at Saratoga Race Course. The Darby Dan Farm color bearer was beaten three-quarters of a length in the June 9 Manhattan at odds of 30-1 under Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who, one race later, piloted Justify to Triple Crown glory in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
“Manitoulin does whatever you want. Slow, fast, alone, in company, it doesn’t matter to him,” Toner said. “He’s a neat horse, that’s all. He just enjoys it. He’s funny. He’s always there, just keeps sticking his head out. He won’t let anybody get by him.
“He came out of the race good,” he added. “Mike will be back at Saratoga to ride him. He got carried wide and I can’t blame Mike for that. I don’t question what he does. It is what it is, but he ran a big race. Three necks away at the wire.”