Sunday, May 4, 2014

Belmont Park Notes: Sunday, May 4, 2014

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Sunday, May 4, 2014


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Belmont Park Notes

  • Tonalist likely to return in G2 Peter Pan on Saturday
  • McGaughey going for hat trick in Sunday's G1 Man o' War
  • Hushion has My Wandy's Girl, Parc Monceau for G2 Ruffian
  • Six Queens to step up in class for Ruffian
  • Jockeys Rajiv Maragh, Irad Ortiz, Jr. reflect on Derby experience; Jose Ortiz takes off Sunday mounts following spill in Saturday finale at Churchill
  • Fields shaping up for Mother's Day weekend stakes

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Christophe Clement on Sunday stated his desire to run

Tonalist in the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan next Saturday after the 3-year-old breezed five furlongs in 1:02.12 this morning at Belmont Park. 


The 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan is New York's final graded stakes for 3-year-olds prior to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7.


"He had a very nice work today," said Clement. "I have to talk to [owner Robert S.] Evans, but as long as he's comfortable with it I'd like to run him in the Peter Pan."


Tonalist, second to eventual Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Constitution on February 22, was originally pointed for the Grade 1 Wood Memorial on April 5 before he was withdrawn with a lung infection. He returned to the worktab on April 17 at Payson Park, breezing five furlongs in 1:03 2/5 in his only other move prior to today's workout.


"We gave him the time, we took care of it, a few little problems," said Clement. "He trained well at Payson and trained well this morning. I'm excited with the work. Let's go."


Tonalist has a single win in three starts, having broken his maiden by four lengths on January 18 at Gulfstream Park after finishing fourth in his debut in November at Aqueduct Racetrack.


Clement reported that all five of his entrants in Saturday's stakes at Belmont Park emerged from the race in fine fettle.


"So far, so good," said Clement. "Summer Front (second in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy) looks well. Speaking of Which (fourth in the Fort Marcy) looks well. Manighar (ninth in the Fort Marcy) needed the race badly, which is why he got tired, but he came out of it in good order. Orion Moon (second in the Grade 3 Beaugay) looks in good order this morning. Irish Mission (seventh in the Beaugay) wants to go further. She'll probably run a mile and three eighths in the Sheepshead Bay (Grade 2, $200,000, May 24). She finished last [in the Beaugay] but she actually ran OK."

Clement said Orion Moon likely will skip the Grade 1, $1 million Longines Just a Game on June 7. Instead, Discreet Marq could carry the Clement stable banner in the one-mile turf race for fillies and mares. 


"I don't think [Orion Moon] is a mile filly, so I'll probably try to train Discreet Marq for the Just a Game," said Clement. "I could stretch out [Orion Moon] for the mile-and-three-eighths Sheepshead Bay, but I think she's too strong for that, too rank."


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Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey has won the last two editions of the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o' War, with 4-year-old Point of Entry in 2012 and 5-year-old Boisterous in 2013. On Sunday, he'll be trying to make it three straight with yet another horse - the 6-year-old Imagining, most recently runner-up in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on February 9.


"That's been our plan," said McGaughey. "We ran him one time in Florida and he ran a great race down there. We wanted to get him up here for the long races and get him started. He breezed this morning on the turf (four furlongs in 50.57 seconds) and went great."


As a 5-year-old, Imagining won four of his six starts, with his only off-the-board finishes coming when 10th in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico Race Course and sixth in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational in September at Belmont.


"The Dixie was just a ridiculous race, a throw out," said McGaughey. "Before the Joe Hirsch, he went a little bit nuts in the holding barn and Johnny [Velazquez] thought he rode him away from the gate a little bit too hard. But, he came back and [won the Bowl Game and Grade 3 Red Smith], so his last three races have been good."


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Trainer Michael Hushion has a pair of runners for the next Sunday's Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian, with My Wandy's Girl slated to make her first start since winning the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap on February 22 at Laurel Park and Parc Monceau set to step up in class off an entry-level allowance victory on April 4 at Aqueduct Racetrack.


The seven-furlong Barbara Fritchie was the second stateside stakes score for My Wandy's Girl, who won four stakes in Puerto Rico before being shipped to the United States by owner Guillero Berrios. In the Fritchie, she dueled with La Verdad and gained the upper hand late to prevail by one length. La Verdad returned to win the Grade 2 Distaff Handicap on April 19 at Aqueduct.


My Wandy's Girl has won at distances ranging from five furlongs to 1 1/8 miles, but Hushion felt that waiting for the one-mile Ruffian was a better option for the 5-year-old than competing in the six-furlong Distaff.


"The extra time after the Barbara Fritchie always is a good thing for My Wandy's Girl," said Hushion. "I wanted to send her a mile, and not that she showed me anything bad, but she runs nicely with time between races. There's a nice race in another month (Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps at 1 1/16 miles on June 7) she might run in. I didn't want to run in all three."


Barry Schwartz's Parc Monceau cleared the first allowance condition in her ninth start by tracking the pace and drawing clear to a 5 ¾-length triumph in a one-mile race on the main track at Aqueduct. In her lone stakes start, she was fourth in the restricted Broom Dance in July at Saratoga Race Course.


"Parc Monceau seems like she's going to take a step forward," said Hushion. "I have a feeling she's going to fit with the way she has been training. She appears to have effloresced."


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Six Queens is likely to enter the Grade 2 Ruffian on Sunday at Belmont Park, where she will try to extend her win streak to three in her stakes debut. The dark brown or bay mare has won three of four starts in her career, with her lone blemish coming over a sloppy track at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for Darley Stable, Six Queens has commenced 2014 in promising fashion, winning a pair of sprint races by a combined five lengths.


"We didn't get her until she was 3, from England - she didn't run over there," said McLaughlin. "We ran her early as a 4-year-old and she won first time out, and then finished second in the slop. She's won impressively twice this year, once in Florida and once [in New York], so we're looking for some black type. She's a very nice filly. We thought she wants a mile, being by Bernardini. It's never easy [to make your stakes debut in a spot this tough] but we're hopeful; there's a few fillies coming off long layoffs."


Six Queens is also a half-sister to Film Maker, who won the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga Race Course, and placed in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf and Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park.


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Rajiv Maragh and Irad Ortiz, Jr. are none the worse for wear after contesting yesterday's Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Maragh, who was aboard 6-1 second choice Wicked Strong, finished fourth, while Ortiz checked in 14th aboard Uncle Sigh, who led the field after a half-mile and three-quarters.


"The experience was great," said Ortiz of his first time riding in the Derby. "My horse ran well. He broke sharp and went to the front easily. I asked him to run at the 3/8-pole and he picked it up, but by the quarter-pole the other horses ran by him and he got a little tired."


Like Ortiz, Maragh came away feeling good about his mount's performance.


"My horse ran really well," said Maragh. "He came on nice at the end, but didn't have enough. On the first turn I went in as much as I could [from post 19] and the pace didn't materialize the way I hoped, so I took advantage of saving some ground on the second turn. In a perfect world, I could have gone somewhere with a big, clear path in the stretch, but when there's 19 horses it's sometimes hard to get a [place to run]. Most horses, and especially big ones like Wicked Strong, do better when they get a clear run. A couple of times I had to alter course because of what was in front of me and where the openings were. He's more of a big, steady run horse; he doesn't have a quick turn of foot. He felt like a horse that would really love the 1 ½-mile Belmont."


Jose Ortiz, who finished fifth aboard Samraat, took off his mounts at Belmont on Sunday after a spill in the final race at Churchill Downs on Saturday. He was discharged after being evaluated at a Louisville hospital.


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Next weekend's stakes action begins on Saturday with the 60th running of the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds, which marks the return to the Triple Crown trail of Robert Evans' Tonalist, last seen finishing second to subsequent Florida Derby winner Constitution in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer in February at Gulfstream Park.


Expected to join the Christophe Clement trainee in the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan, a springboard to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 7, are Albano, runner-up in the Grade 3 LeComte and Grade 2 Risen Star before being placed fourth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby; lightly raced Fabulous Kid, who worked six furlongs in 1:14.89 on Saturday; the Todd Pletcher-trained Matterhorn, who will be making his stakes debut; Calder Derby winner Our Caravan, and the Florida-based Tapicero. Effinex and Irish You Well are questionable, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.


The Mother's Day card on Sunday features a trio of graded stakes events: the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o' War at 1 3/8 miles on the turf, the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian for fillies and mares, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Westchester, the traditional prep for the Grade 1 Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day. All three races will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 as part of the "Jockey Club Tour on Fox" series. The Mother's Day festivities also will include holiday-themed giveaways and a special Family Fun Day by the Event Kings.


Lending an international flavor to the probable field for the Man o' War is the Irish-bred Grandeur, trained by Jeremy Noseda. The multiple graded stakes winner will be making his second transatlantic voyage, having won the Grade 2 Twilight Derby and Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes and finishing second in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in 2012. Also likely are Amira's Prince, second in the Grade 2 Mervin Munoz Jr. Handicap last time out; the Phipps Stable's Imagining, most recently second up in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap; California import Lucayan; Real Solution, who was placed first in last year's Grade 1 Arlington Million; and Vertiformer, second in the Grade 2 Pan American on March 29.


Multiple graded stakes winners Dreaming of Julia and Grace Hall both will be coming off nearly year-long layoffs in the one-mile Ruffian, which also is expected to draw Godolphin Stable's Six Queens in her stakes debut, and the Mike Hushion-trained pair of My Wandy's Girl and Parc Monceau. Odine is questionable.


Among the early probables for the one-mile Westchester are 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, undefeated in two starts this year - the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap; Declan's Warrior, winner of last year's Grade 3 Bay Shore, and I'm Steppin' It Up, winner of a one-mile optional claimer at Calder last time out.



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