Pletcher happy to have skipped Preakness; Mubtaahij works bullet for Belmont

Pletcher happy to have skipped Preakness; Mubtaahij works bullet for Belmont

If American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) is to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, he'll have to go through a trio of runners from the barn of Todd Pletcher, as the trainer is likely to send out the sixth and 10th-place finishers from the Kentucky Derby (G1), Materiality (Afleet Alex) and Carpe Diem (Giant's Causeway), and the winner of the Peter Pan (G2), Madefromlucky (Lookin at Lucky), in the June 6 Belmont S. (G1).

Materiality endured a trouble-filled trip in the Derby. The son of 2005 Belmont winner Afleet Alex was bumped coming out of the starting gate and was unable to assume his customary position on or near the early lead. From there, things only got worse.

Passing the stands for the first time, Materiality was bombarded with kickback from a crush of horses looking to get inside position going into the first turn. Around the far turn, the bay colt was shuffled back, nearly to last, but came with a strong run a few paths from the rail to finish sixth.

Pletcher considered entering Materiality in the Preakness (G1), but elected to wait for the Belmont instead. On Saturday, the Florida Derby (G1) winner worked for the first time since the Kentucky Derby, breezing four furlongs in :49 over the Belmont main track.

"With those kinds of decisions you just never know, but with the downpour and everything (at the Preakness), I was happy we were safely at home and got a good work into him," Pletcher said. "He went well, :49 with a good gallop out; we were very happy with it."

According to Pletcher, Carpe Diem, who finished 11 lengths behind American Pharoah as the 7-1 third choice in the Derby, and Madefromlucky, who upset his stablemate Two Weeks Off (Harlan's Holiday) in the Peter Pan, are scheduled to breeze on either Friday or Saturday.

Others likely for the Belmont include Tale of Verve (Tale of Ekati), who finished second, beaten seven lengths by American Pharoah in the Preakness; Keen Ice (Curlin), seventh in the Derby; Mubtaahij (Dubawi), eighth in the Derby; and Frammento (Midshipman), 11th in the Derby. The fourth-place finisher from the Derby, Frosted (Tapit), is still under consideration for the race, as well.

Belmont contender Mubtaahij took to Belmont's inner turf course with stablemate Umgiyo (Danehill Dancer) for South African-based trainer Mike de Kock on Sunday morning.

The U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) winner arrived at Belmont Park Friday morning from Churchill Downs no worse for wear. "He's a good traveler," reported de Kock's assistant trainer Trevor Brown, adding that the colt has continued to keep weight on since the Derby.

Clockers caught Mubtaahij in a bullet-earning 1:01.11 for five furlongs, while Umgiyo earned an official time of 1:01.15, the second-fastest of 22 works at the distance.
Brown was satisfied with the pair's first work over the local surface.

"Umgiyo is a proper turf horse and, of course, Mubtaahij is a dirt horse so I was quite happy with the gallop," Brown said. "I was pleased with both of them."

Turf workouts are a common training regimen for the de Kock barn, even for dirt specialists such as Mubtaahij, according to Brown.

"Doesn't matter if they're turf, poly, or all-weather (horses), we'll gallop them on the turf," Brown said. "We just get a little more out of them galloping on the turf as opposed to working on the dirt. On the dirt, they can come out a little stiff. As for the turf, it's kinder on their legs."

Umgiyo, most recently last of nine in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Derby undercard, has been named to the $1 million Manhattan (G1) on Belmont Day, as well as the $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational on June 5.

"Umgiyo is named to both," Brown said. "So we'll see how strong (the Manhattan field) is. We just want to get his confidence back.



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