Saturday, September 21, 2013

Belmont Park Notes

• Todd's squad preps for Super Saturday
• Brown confirms Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution for G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic following turf breeze in company; Last Gunfighter breezes for G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup
• Jockey Club Gold Cup candidate Alpha breezes at Spa, arrives Wednesday
• King Kreesa set for Joe Hirsch

ELMONT, N.Y. - Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out a cadre of contenders for their final Super Saturday works this morning, headed by Grade 1 Whitney Invitational Handicap winner Cross Traffic and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes star Palace Malice, who breezed five furlongs and a half-mile, respectively, for the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational.

Cross Traffic, 3-2-0 from five starts this year, went in 1:01.52 in company with the Grade 2 Kelso Invitational-bound Graydar, while Palace Malice worked alone in 48.43.

"I thought Palace Malice's was more of the standard we've seen from him," Pletcher said. "It was a good steady breeze with a very strong gallop out. He went willingly on his own, in hand, and we were very, very pleased with it. He looked well this morning and judging by his race in the Belmont, he likes it here.

"I thought Cross Traffic and Graydar worked very well," he added. "It's the third consecutive breeze they've had together. It served them both well. In company, they stay more focused without overdoing it. We wanted to make sure we got a good solid work into both of them. One of them is coming off a significant layoff and the other hasn't run since the Whitney, and I think we got what we were looking for."
Also on the worktab was multiple Grade 1 winner Princess of Sylmar, who is heading to the Grade 1 Beldame, and Grade 1 Personal Ensign runner-up Authenticity, who went four furlongs in company. Princess of Sylmar was clocked in 48.50 seconds, while Authenticity was credited with a 48.57 work.

"I thought Princess of Sylmar went very well as usual, and once again, they made good mates," said Pletcher, noting that Authenticity was under consideration for both the Beldame and the Grade 1 Zenyatta at Santa Anita Park.

Pletcher's busy weekend will continue on Sunday with Corfu and Sound of Freedom going in the Grade 2 Futurity and Cynical Storm and Sweet Whiskey headed to the Grade 2 Matron.

The trainer added that Shanghai Bobby, last year's 2-year-old champion, emerged from Friday's Aljiman victory in good order and could make his next start in either the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile or the Breeders' Cup Sprint.

* * *

After Ken and Sarah Ramsey's Big Blue Kitten and Real Solution took to the turf to breeze five furlongs in company on Saturday at Belmont Park, trainer Chad Brown confirmed his plans to run both horses in the Grade 1, $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational on September 28.

Big Blue Kitten, winner of the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational, was clocked in 1:02.39, one hundredth of a second slower than Real Solution, was promoted to victory via disqualification in the Grade 1 Arlington Million. Both the Sword Dancer and the Arlington Million were held on August 17.

"I'm planning on running them both. It's not ideal, but we're just going to have to go with it," said Brown. "I didn't want to run them together until the Breeders' Cup, but my hands are a bit tied. Hopefully, one of them wins. The timing of the race should set them up for the Breeders' Cup, and with not having to ship for your race right before the Breeders' Cup perhaps it won't be as hard of a race on them."

On the main track, John D. Gunther's Last Gunfighter breezed five furlongs in 1:02.24. He will make his Grade 1 debut on Saturday in the $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, Brown said. Last Gunfighter has won seven of his past eight starts, including the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin on August 18 at Monmouth Park.

"He's been a very consistent horse," said Brown. "He's going to need to come with his career-best race. He's not Grade 1 tested, but he's been a very consistent horse at the level he's been running. He's going to have to take a big step forward, I think."

Brown added that Readtheprospectus exited his triumph in the Spite the Devil overnight stakes on Wednesday in good shape and that the Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence color-bearer likely will make his next start in the $250,000 Empire Classic on October 19. The New York-bred has won seven straight races.

"He ran really good, considering the layoff and having to carry 123 pounds," said Brown. "We were using it as a prep for the Empire Classic, and carrying that much weight off a layoff against some hard-knockers I thought he was vulnerable to maybe have his win streak disrupted, but I was very impressed with his race."

Also on the worktab was 2012 Grade 1 Garden City winner Samitar, who breezed five furlongs on the turf in 1:01.77. In her most recent start, she won the Speed Boat overnight stakes on September 1 at Saratoga Race Course. Brown said she will make her next start in either the Grade 1 First Lady on October 5 at Keeneland or the Grade 3 Athenia on October 12 at Belmont.

* * *

Multiple stakes winner King Kreesa, most recently second to reigning Horse of the Year Wise Dan in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap, breezed five furlongs on the training track in 1:01.51 Saturday morning in preparation for his second Grade 1 start, Saturday's $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational.

It was the second work since the Fourstardave for the 4-year-old New York-bred gelding, who developed an abscess in his foot following the race and missed 10 days of training, said trainer Jeremiah Englehart.

"Because he missed some time we were thinking about giving him another week and skipping the race," he said. "He was a little eager last week [four furlongs in 48.13] but today, Irad [Ortiz, Jr.] was really happy with him and said he handled everything fine."

Second in last year's Grade 1 Jamaica Handicap, King Kreesa is 2-1-2 in five starts this year including victories in the Kingston and the Grade 3 Poker. The 1 ½-mile Turf Classic will be his first start beyond 1 1/8 miles.

* * *

Grade 1 Woodward winner Alpha completed his preparations for the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup this morning, breezing five furlongs in 1:02.90 over the Oklahoma training track at Saratoga Race Course.

"He worked on his own, and will ship down Wednesday morning," reported trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. "All is well, other than we don't have a jockey yet."

The Woodward was Alpha's second Grade 1 triumph, having dead-heated to win last year's Travers.

"The Woodward was a huge win for the horse, the trainer, the owner [Godolphin Stable] and everyone," said McLaughlin.

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