Sidney's Candy on course for Whitney
It was a busy Sunday on the worktab at Belmont Park for trainer Todd Pletcher's squad, with multiple contenders for upcoming Saratoga stakes turning in breezes.
Grade 1 hero SIDNEY'S CANDY (Candy Ride [Arg]) traveled five furlongs on the fast main track in 1:01 3/5.
Since being nipped in the May 28 American H. (G2), the four-year-old was sold privately and transferred to Pletcher. He is set to make his debut for WinStar Farm and Argentina's Rubio B Stable in the August 6 Whitney H. (G1) at Saratoga.
'It was a good, steady five-eighths with a decent gallop-out,' Pletcher said. 'It seems like he is doing well. We're on schedule for the Whitney, if everything continues to do well.
'He's been very cooperative with whatever we've asked him to do. He's fine in company, and doesn't get overly aggressive. He seems very ratable, if need be. He'll go up to Saratoga this week.'
AIKENITE (Yes It's True), successful in the Churchill Downs S. (G2) and Commonwealth S. (G2) this season, turned in the exact same time of 1:01 3/5.
Fourth in the Metropolitan H. (G1) last out, the Dogwood Stable representative plans to use the James Marvin S. on July 22, opening day at Saratoga, as a stepping stone to the Forego (G1) on September 3.
'He had run steadily all spring, so we gave him a little bit of freshening and hopefully he'll make two starts at Saratoga,' Pletcher said. 'Seven-eighths seems to be his favorite distance. He's capable at a number of distances, but it seems to be his absolute best.'
Stay Thirsty (right) was just outdueled by Ruler on Ice in the Belmont (Matt Wooley/EquiSport Photos)
Gotham (G3) winner and Belmont S. (G1) runner-up STAY THIRSTY (Bernardini) continued his preparations for the July 30 Jim Dandy (G2) with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00 3/5.
'Stay Thirsty went well,' Pletcher said. 'Everything is on schedule for the Jim Dandy. He's trained well since the Belmont and hasn't missed a beat.'
Breezing in the same time was multiple Grade 1 queen LIFE AT TEN (Malibu Moon), who could mount a title defense in Saturday's Delaware H. (G2).
Since her listless no-show in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (G1) last November, she has been well beaten in all three starts this year, most recently finishing fourth as the defending champion in the Ogden Phipps H. (G1).
BUSTER'S READY (More Than Ready), who earned her first stakes victory in the June 25 Mother Goose (G1), breezed a half-mile in :50. Owned by the Estate of Edward P. Evans, she is slated to compete in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) on July 23.
'She seemed to come out of the Mother Goose in good shape,' Pletcher noted.
Pletcher also had news of debut maiden-winning juvenile OVERDRIVEN (Tale of the Cat), who scored by 3 1/2 lengths in a sparkling :56 2/5 for five furlongs at Belmont on July 1.
'The horse seems to have come out of the race well, and if the breeze goes accordingly, we'll plan on running in the Sanford ([G2] at Saratoga on July 24),' the trainer said.
Royal Delta, To Honor and Serve tune up for the Spa
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott is primed for Saratoga's three-year-old races, with ROYAL DELTA (Empire Maker), TO HONOR AND SERVE (Bernardini) and RAISON D'ETAT (A.P. Indy) all under consideration for stakes at the Spa.
Palides Investments' Royal Delta, winner of the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at Pimlico in her most recent start, earned a bullet for her 1:00 3/5 five-furlong breeze at Belmont Park Sunday morning. In her second workout after bypassing the June 25 Mother Goose (G1) with a bruised foot, she turned in the fastest of 28 moves at the distance on the fast main track.
If Royal Delta can maintain her current training regimen, Mott is confident that she will compete in Saratoga's pair of Grade 1 races for three-year-old fillies, the 1 1/8-mile Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23 and the 1 1/4-mile Alabama on August 20.
'With any luck, we'll make both races up there, the Coaching Club and Alabama,' Mott said. 'I think it will be enough.'
Things aren't as clear with To Honor and Serve, the dual Grade 2 winner who hasn't raced since finishing third in the Florida Derby (G1) in April.
On the comeback trail from a suspensory injury, the Live Oak Plantation colorbearer reeled off his five-eighths in 1:00 3/5.
Mott isn't sure where To Honor and Serve will make his next start, but the trainer mentioned the 6 1/2-furlong Amsterdam (G2) on August 1 as a possibility for the colt.
'The Amsterdam is 6 1/2, and that's pretty short,' Mott said. 'They say there are a lot of good sprinters around. I'm considering (shortening him up), just to see how it goes. If you come back at Saratoga, you're going a mile-and-an-eighth, and the horse has enough speed where he doesn't have to go a mile-and-an-eighth.'
Mott is also keeping his options open with Raison d'Etat, who broke his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths at Belmont on June 18 in his third career start. Out of Sightseek, the regally-bred Juddmonte Farms colt turned in a :50 four-furlong breeze over Saratoga's Oklahoma training track on Friday.
'He could very well go in the Curlin (at 1 1/8 miles on July 29),' Mott said. 'He'll be nominated for that and the Jim Dandy ([G2] at 1 1/8 miles on July 30), but the Curlin would probably be the spot. There's also (a 1 1/8-mile allowance) the same day as the Jim Dandy.'
Gio Ponti likely to contest Arlington Million again
Trainer Christophe Clement offered no excuses Sunday morning for two-time reigning champion turf male and 2009 champion older male GIO PONTI (Tale of the Cat), who was denied a historic third consecutive victory in Saturday's Man o' War (G1) by Irish invader CAPE BLANCO (Ire) (Galileo [Ire]).
'Yesterday I thought the horse ran a good race; he was second-best,' Clement said of the Castleton Lyons homebred. 'I did think the Irish horse had everything his way, but we had the chance to get to him and we couldn't get to him in the stretch.'
Pondering future options for Gio Ponti, a six-time Grade 1 winner who was beaten 2 1/4 lengths in the Man o'War, Clement said the Arlington Million (G1) on August 13 was a likely target.
'It's tough to pass on the Million -- we won and finished second the last two years,' Clement reasoned. 'Yet again, it's a mile and a quarter, and yet again, you are subject to weather and luck, but that's the way it is.
'The fall is obvious -- I will be in the Shadwell Turf Mile ([G1] at Keeneland) and the Breeders' Cup Mile ([G1] at Churchill Downs). What do I do between now and then? At the moment, I will train him for the Million and we'll keep all of our options open.
'There is no doubt whenever you run Gio Ponti at a shorter distance you're less a victim of the pace (because) at a shorter distance you get more pace. His turn of foot is more efficient the more pace you've got.'
Clement also offered an update on Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone's WINCHESTER (Theatrical [Ire]), winner of last year's Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational (G1) and Manhattan H. (G1) at Belmont Park. The six-year-old is unraced since an 11th-place finish in the Hong Kong Vase (HK-G1) at Sha Tin on December 12 and missed some time earlier this spring with a splint.
'Winchester is doing very well,' Clement said. 'He's going to work (Monday) on the turf and then I'm going to decide do I bring him back in two weeks for (the Stars and Stripes [G3] on July 23) at Arlington, or just train him to the Sword Dancer ([G1] on August 13 at Saratoga). I've got to talk to Mr. Firestone and we'll have a plan after that.'
The Stars and Stripes and Sword Dancer are both contested over 1 1/2 miles on the turf.
Turning to turf fillies, Clement said he was pleased with recent victories notched by GIANTS PLAY (Giant's Causeway) in the New York S. (G2) on June 25 at Belmont, and CHEETAH (GB) (Tiger Hill) in the Robert G. Dick Memorial S. (G3) Saturday at Delaware Park.
'Cheetah ran well,' Clement said. 'It's nice because we went with Giants Play to the New York, she won, and Cheetah went to the race at Delaware, she won.
'One of the two maybe we'll have to think about the Diana ([G1] at 1 1/8 miles on July 30 at Saratoga), the Beverly D. ([G1] at 1 3/16 miles on August 13 at Arlington Park), the Glens Falls ([G3 at 1 3/8 miles on September 5 at Saratoga), all of these races coming up.'
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