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Monday, June 24, 2013


Belmont Park Notes


• Close Hatches has Mott smiling after G1 Mother Goose victory; Starformer preps for G2 New York
• Dreaming of Julia emerges from Mother Goose in good order; Kauai Katie, Fusaichiswonderful target G3 Victory Ride
• Dream Peace set for G2 New York following Sunday breeze
• Rydilluc breezes on turf; trainer Contessa looks ahead with talented 3yo turfer


ELMONT, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott was delighted this morning with the way Close Hatches emerged from her 7 ¼-length victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Mother Goose.

“She looks great; I’m happy,” said Mott of the Juddmonte Farms color-bearer, who with the victory earned her first Grade 1 in three consecutive tries. “[Yesterday] she just kind of shot to the lead and seized the race at the three-eighths pole, and kept going. She trains like she had a race like that in her. She ran well last time [second in the Grade 1 Acorn] and didn’t embarrass anyone [when seventh] in the Kentucky Oaks, although probably that wasn’t her best race. She ran very average in the Oaks, and good in the Acorn, and real good yesterday.”

The Grade 1 TVG Coaching Club American Oaks, 1 1/8 miles around two turns on July 20 at Saratoga Race Course, remains the next logical target, said Mott.

Of more immediate concern is Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 New York for turf fillies and mares, in which Starformer looks to rebound from an eighth-place finish over soft footing in the Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay.

The 5-year-old Dynaformer mare turned up for the 1 ¼ mile race Sunday morning with a six-furlong breeze over the inner turf in 1:14.05

“She went really, really well, and did it on the bridle,” said Mott. “So, she was good.”

Also on the worktab for Mott was his other star 3-year-old filly, Grade 1 Ashland winner Emollient, who breezed five furlongs in 1:01.53 in preparation for an expected start in the Grade 1 American Oaks on July 13 at Befair Hollywood Park.

“We’ve found out with Emollient that synthetic and turf is going to be a little bet better than the dirt,” he said, adding that the promising sophomore filly Tapicat, winner of the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs in February, would likely target the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake George on July 24 at Saratoga.

Mott confirmed that Flat Out, whose four-race unbeaten streak at Belmont ended when he was third in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, was under consideration for the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban Handicap on July 6.

“He runs well here,” said the trainer. “We didn’t get it done in the Met Mile, which we wanted to, and maybe we’d give him another opportunity here. I would think the Suburban might not be as tough as the Met Mile was. If we were to wait for the Whitney [Grade 1, August 3, Saratoga] we’d have to wait another month and I’m not sure the horse needs another month.”

* * *

Dreaming of Julia, second as the 2-5 favorite in the Mother Goose, emerged from her efforts in good order, trainer Todd Pletcher reported this morning.

“She came back well,” he said. “She’ll head to Saratoga tomorrow and prepare for something, possibly the Coaching Club [American Oaks], possibly the Alabama [August 17], possibly both.”

Accompanying Dreaming of Julia to Pletcher’s Saratoga barn will be Belmont Stakes hero Palace Malice, Kentucky Oaks winner Princess of Sylmar, Met Mile runner-up Cross Traffic, and San Pablo, most recently victorious in the Criminal Type overnight stakes on July 14.

While San Pablo remains under consideration for the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6, he likely will await a later race, leaving Percussion as Pletcher’s representative in the 1 1/8-mile race. The 5-year-old gelding, who led to the last few jumps of the Grade 2 Brooklyn Handicap, worked four furlongs on the training track in 51.61 seconds. Also breezing for an expected start on July 6 was Pletcher’s contender for the Grade 2 Dwyer, Battier, who went four furlongs in 48.66.

The trainer hopes to have two entrants for this Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride with Kauai Katie, most recently third in the Grade 1 Acorn, and Fusaichiswonderful, who closed from sixth to finish a half-length short as the runner-up in the Grade 3 Eight Belles on May 3 at Churchill Downs. Both fillies breezed four furlongs on the training track on Saturday, with Fusaichiswonderful clocked in 48.27 and Kauai Katie timed in 48.28.

“I thought Fusaichiswonderful ran a winning race at Churchill last time out,” said Pletcher of the Fusaichi Pegasus filly. “She was a little unlucky with the draw [post position 2] and she was one of the few horses in the race with an inside draw who performed well. She was a little unlucky not to win, but ran a courageous race.”

Plecther felt that, like her stablemate, Kauai Katie was somewhat compromised by drawing inside in her last race.

“I didn’t think she ran badly in the Acorn from the rail,” he said. “She was never in a great position and was getting a lot of dirt in her face, and she’d never really been in that situation. I thought she ran hard; Midnight Lucky was just too good on the day.”

* * *

Etreham Farm’s Dream Peace breezed five furlongs on Belmont’s turf course in 1:01.96 seconds on Sunday as she aims for a start in next Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 New York.

A Group 2 winner in France, Dream Peace seeks her first win in North America, having finished second or third in all four starts since relocating from Europe. Last year, she was second in the Grade 1 Diana and third in the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational and Grade 1 E. P. Taylor. She has made one start this year, finishing third as the odds-on favorite in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Beaugay on May 4 at Belmont.

“She’s on target for the New York,” said Brown. “I thought she breezed very well. We freshened her up. Of course, there are some bigger races down the road we’d like to get to, but she really needs to move forward off her first race of the year before I start planning anything. So far, she’s training really well.”

Dream Peace’s biggest win, the 2011 Group 2 Prix de La Nonette at Deauville, came at the New York’s 1 ¼-mile distance.

“The [Beaugay] was a little too short for her and the turf was very firm that day,” said Brown. “Heading into the New York, I would welcome a little bit of rain. She appreciates some give in the ground. I’m not sure I’ll get it, but one way or another I’m going to run her.”

On the worktab at Saratoga for Brown was Normandy Invasion, who is preparing for the Saratoga Race Course meet. Second in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial and fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Normandy Invasion breezed four furlongs on the Oklahoma training track in 49.30 seconds.

* * *

Trainer Gary Contessa issued an upbeat bulletin on Sunday following Rydilluc’s seven-furlong turf breeze.

Working in company with stablemate Which Market, Rydilluc, a two-time stakes winner, traveled the distance in 1:27.60.

“Beautiful work. Seven furlongs, 1:27 and change, looked great doing it,” said Contessa, who trains Rydilluc for a partnership headed by Leonard Green. “I wanted him to have some company, so I worked him with another nice turf horse named Which Market, a horse that we just claimed recently. So it was good for both of them, and the perfect work.”

In his three most recent starts, Rydilluc won the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes in March at Gulfstream Park, was fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland, and captured the inaugural running of the of the Penn Mile Stakes on June 1. Rydilluc will make his next start in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby on July 13. How the colt performs in the 1 ¼-mile race will help determine the rest of his summer campaign, the trainer said.

“The Virginia Derby is kind of the middle of a ‘Y’ and if he can handle a mile and a quarter, maybe he heads to Arlington for the Secretariat [Grade 1, 1 ¼ miles, August 17], but if the mile and quarter doesn’t turn out to be his forte, we have two beautiful races at Saratoga, the Hall of Fame [Grade 2, 1 1/16 miles, August 9] and the Saranac [Grade 3, 1 1/8 miles, September 1],” said Contessa. “So, I would say that we could go in either direction, we don’t know, but the next step is going to be Virginia, unless he stumbles or something happens.

“And since we’re kind of at a cross roads on whether he’s going to be a true mile and a quarter horse or not, it’s good to have the options,” the trainer continued. “I love having the options. Having the Saratoga option, the Hall of Fame Stakes, is wonderful. The Virginia Derby will point him in the direction we need to go in. It’s the perfect next race.”



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