Sunday, October 06, 2013
Belmont Park Notes Sunday, October 6
• Pletcher bubbly after Havana's G1 Foxwoods Champagne win
• Hushion confirms G1 Frizette winner Artemis Agrotera for Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies
• Big A likely destination for Foxwoods Champagne runner-up Honor Code; McGaughey issues upbeat bulletins on Orb, Point of Entry
• First career loss won't keep Sweet Reason from Breeders' Cup; Noble Moon possible for G2 Nashua
"Havana showed us what we were hoping to see," said Pletcher of the Dunkirk colt, who earned a fees-paid berth into the Breeders' Cup Juvenile next month at Santa Anita Park with his second victory in as many starts. "It was a challenge for sure going from a 5 ½-furlong maiden to a Grade 1 going a mile. We're very satisfied with his performance. He earned his way to the next stop."
Havana, who received a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his front-running maiden win at Saratoga Race Course, was given a 93 Beyer for Saturday's one-mile Foxwoods Champagne, in which he sat just off brisk early fractions, took the lead on the far turn, found himself 4 ½ lengths in front at the top of the stretch and held off Honor Code to win by a neck in 1:35.81.
"It did not surprise us he adapted to that scenario [sitting just off the pace]," said Pletcher. "We'd experimented in the morning with him sitting off horses, and he seemed to be cooperative. It's always nice to see them do it in the afternoons. [When he got to the lead], I think it was a little bit of an optical illusion because [pacesetter] Debt Ceiling fell off so quickly and Havana was suddenly four lengths ahead of everyone else. You could see at the top of the stretch Honor Code was starting to put in a big run. I anticipated it would be close, especially after the fractions they had put in early on, and he certainly had the right to be getting tired at that point."
Pletcher said that Intense Holiday, fifth in the Foxwoods Champagne, Jack Milton and Notacatbutallama, third and fourth, respectively, in the Grade 1 Jamaica, and Stopchargingmaria, who finished third in the Grade 1 Frizette, also returned in fine fettle.
"Stopchargingmaria ran well," he said. "She was third best on the day with no apparent excuse. She will go on to the Tempted [Grade 3, one mile, November 3, Aqueduct Racetrack]."
Pletcher added that dual Grade 1 winner Verrazano worked well in company with Grade 1 Foxwoods King's Bishop winner Capo Bastone on Saturday, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.26 on the training track in preparation for the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile, and that he planned to send Wee Miss Artie, winner of Saturday's Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, to Santa Anita to breeze on the dirt for a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
* * *
Trainer Mike Hushion on Sunday confirmed that Artemis Agrotera is bound for the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies on November 2 at Santa Anita after winning Saturday's Grade 1 Frizette by 1 ¼ lengths over Sweet Reason, who veered in sharply at the start.
"We're going [to the Breeders' Cup] until she tells us 'No,'" said Hushion. "It's as simple as that. I'd probably go out [to Santa Anita] the Monday or Tuesday before [the race] and do all of the work here and just go out there and gallop for a couple of days. She was a little strong in the paddock yesterday, so we'll get out there and do some schooling."
In her only start prior to the Frizette, Artemis Agrotera defeated New York-bred maidens by 11 ¾ lengths going six furlongs on August 16 at Saratoga Race Course, a performance that inspired Hushion and owners Chester and Mary Broman to opt for the Grade 1 Frizette instead of a New York-bred stakes such as the Joseph A. Gimma on October 19.
Artemis Agrotera won her debut race in gate-to-wire fashion, but was able to settle just off the pace in the Frizette, which Hushion believes allowed her to handle the step up in class and stretch out in distance.
"She breezed extremely well, and after her first race her works stepped up even another notch," said Hushion. "We were all happy with the way she relaxed. She's been a little too much on the go and we have been trying to quiet her down. It means she's not one dimensional any more."
Hushion said he was surprised Artemis Agrotera, a large filly, was able to make it to the races so soon, but that her size also allows for her to have an efficient stride.
"She has a big, long, smooth stride, not a scrambling type," said Hushion. "Her stride matches her size. She can reach. She was never shortening stride when I watched the replay yesterday. Unfortunately, I was too busy patting myself on the back to watch her gallop out, but I was told she galloped out very well, which doesn't surprise me."
Hushion added that Barry Schwartz's The Lumber Guy, second in last year's Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint, remains under consideration for a return trip to California despite finishing last of seven in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Invitational, a race he won in 2012, on September 28 at Belmont. He is winless in four starts since last year's Breeders' Cup.
"We haven't ruled out California," said Hushion. "I just hope he has a big, forward move yet. He still looks like a monster and is still acting great. I'm not sure why he ran like he did [in the Vosburgh]."
* * *
Foxwoods Champagne runner-up Honor Code could see action again this year but most likely it will be at Aqueduct Racetrack, not Santa Anita Park, Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said Sunday morning.
"I'll watch him and see," he said of the 2-year-old A. P. Indy colt, who is owned by Lane's End Racing and Dell Ridge Farm. "I'm not real inclined to go to the Breeders' Cup with him. Obviously I'll talk to Mr. [Will] Farish and see what they want to do. As I've said before, I'd sure like to have a nice horse for next year. You've got the Remsen [Grade 2, November 30] going 1 1/8 miles going around two turns. I'm sure not ruling out the Nashua [Grade 2, one mile, November 3] and the Remsen, or maybe just the Remsen."
McGaughey hopes to be represented in next month's Breeders' Cup with multiple Grade 1 winner Point of Entry, who breezed five furlongs in 1:02.88 over Belmont's main track on Saturday, his fourth work since returning to training on September 14.
"I'm hoping [Hall of Fame jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] will be back from Keeneland next Sunday to work him on the turf, and go from there," said McGaughey of Point of Entry, who emerged from his victory in the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap in June with a condylar fracture in his left hind cannon bone that was surgically repaired.
"I'm more than pleased with how he's doing," he added. "He's going the right direction, the right way, without overdoing it. His work yesterday on the dirt was a nice work. He galloped out in 1:16 so he's getting a good bottom. If he keeps going in the right direction, I'd work him three more times [before the Breeders' Cup Turf], and I think that will be enough. We'll just have to see. Right now, I'm really, really enthusiastic about what I'm seeing."
McGaughey also issued a positive report on Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who returned to Belmont Park last week after a brief sojourn at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland following his eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on September 28.
"He's been good," said the trainer. "It's been about a week, so I'll probably try to work him in next week and see where he is. I don't know what I'm going to do with him, if I do anything. I'll let him tell me. If it's time to stop, we'll stop. But the Cigar Mile [Grade 1, November 30, Aqueduct] could be a very good possibility."
* * *
Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason, who overcame an awkward start to finish a closing second as the favorite in Saturday's Grade 1 Frizette, emerged from her effort in good shape, trainer Leah Gyarmati said Sunday.
"She came out great. She cleaned her tub and didn't leave an oat," said Gyarmati. "She went out in the round pen and was staring at the track, wondering why she's not training today. She looks good."
The one-mile Frizette was the first loss in three starts for Sweet Reason, a juvenile daughter of Street Sense who won twice at Saratoga Race Course this summer by a combined 12 lengths, including a 5 ¾-length score in the Grade 1 Spinaway.
Both of those races came over sloppy, sealed tracks, making the Frizette her first start on a dry, fast track. Under jockey Alex Solis, Sweet Reason ducked to her left coming out of post position 1, costing her several lengths.
"She ran her heart out," Gyarmati said. "Obviously, you had to see about the dry track in the afternoon, but she didn't give me any reason to think she wouldn't run as well on the dry track as the slop. Then, having to spot the field five lengths and go in and out of traffic and check a couple of times, I'm just very impressed."
Swung four wide and into the clear at the top of the lane, Sweet Reason came flying down the stretch but wound up 1 ¼ lengths shy of winner Artemis Agrotera. Her strong finish has Gyarmati excited about the prospect of stretching her to longer distances.
"That's what she's bred to do, anyway, I think," she said. "All along, we thought she'd go long, and her personality is such that you'd think the longer, the better. She'll do whatever you ask her to do. The two races at Saratoga were very impressive, but she just did it so easily. This, she had to work at."
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita Park on November 2 remains the target for Sweet Reason, who Gyarmati trains for owner Treadway Racing Stable.
"That's what we're looking at," said Gyarmati. "As long as she's OK and she's a hundred percent, bounces back good and looks like she's ready to go again, that's what we'll point for."
Gyarmati has no definite plans for impressive debut winner Noble Moon, who went gate-to-wire in his unveiling for a three-quarter length victory on September 14 at Belmont Park at odds of 25-1.
On Saturday, Noble Moon breezed three furlongs in 38.09 seconds over the Belmont training track, the second work since his win.
"He's doing really well," said Gyarmati. "I don't know where we're going with him yet; maybe the [Grade 2, one-mile] Nashua [November 3, Aqueduct]. We'll see. There's no rush with him."
Read more articles in the Belmont Stakes category.