Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing and trainer Kenny McPeek’s Magdalena Racing’s Creative Minister recorded his first breeze over Belmont Park’s main track on Tuesday, sailing through a half-mile in 48.33 seconds in his penultimate work for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11.
McPeek, who sent out Sarava for a 70-1 upset score in the 2002 Belmont Stakes, said he was pleased with the breeze from Creative Minister, who arrived in New York on Wednesday.
“This horse is all class. It was a nice little maintenance half-mile and wasn’t anything complicated,” said McPeek. “We just wanted to let him stretch his legs a little over the track. I think historically it’s a track you’ve got to get used to. I had luck with Sarava training him up there immediately after the Preakness.”
Creative Minister stepped onto the main track at 5:35 a.m. Eastern with Heman Harkie aboard and stood quietly near the first turn of Big Sandy, ears forward and observing the action around him for about 10 minutes. Harkie then schooled the son of Creative Cause around the first turn and spent a considerable amount of time allowing him to get familiar with his surroundings.
PlayUp Racebook is your best bet! Sign up today and receive up to a $250 Deposit Bonus and great Wager Rewards!
Harkie and Creative Minister continued on to the backside and began the half-mile drill under a light haze and muggy temperatures in the low 70s. NYRA clockers caught Creative Minister marking off a quarter-mile in 24 seconds over the fast track, rolling through without much urging from Harkie. Rounding the turn and heading for the wire, Harkie remained still aboard the grey colt who continued a steady rhythm down the stretch to complete the work in 48.33 seconds, galloping out five-eighths in 1:01 flat.
“He’s a smart horse. He’s a really smooth traveler,” said Harkie, who has been galloping Creative Minister for the past few days. “You ask him, he’ll take you where you want to go. He handled the surface pretty good. I really like him. He’s got a long, nice stride. It feels great for a rider like me to get on a horse like that. It was such an amazing breeze.”
McPeek said he is satisfied with Creative Minister’s preparations thus far over Big Sandy.
“He’s been walking through the paddock every day and galloping a mile and a quarter every day or so with lighter gallops in between,” McPeek said. “Pretty simple stuff.”
Creative Minister was last seen finishing an even third in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on May 21 where he was defeated 3 1/2 lengths by Early Voting. He stalked the pace in fifth under Brian Hernandez, Jr. on an inside path before angling out in the turn and making a bid for the lead. He held position well to secure show honors by 2 3/4 lengths over returning Belmont Stakes rival Skippylongstocking. Hernandez, Jr. will retain the mount for the Belmont Stakes.
“It was another big step forward for him,” McPeek said of the Preakness effort. “He showed he fits in with some of the better 3-year-olds in the nation.”
Out of the Tapit mare Tamboz, Creative Minister is a half-brother to three graded stakes placed runners in Dolder Grand, Oceanwave and Battalion Runner. Six of Tamboz’s eight foals to race have earned at least one stakes placing. Creative Minister was bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm.