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Saturday, September 22, 2012


BELMONT PARK NOTES; Friday, September 21, 2012


ELMONT, N.Y. – Undefeated champion Awesome Feather returned from her victory in Thursday’s Nasty Storm overnight stakes in fine fettle, reported trainer Chad Brown, and will train up to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic on November 2 at Santa Anita.

“She was good this morning,” said Brown of the 4-year-old filly, who earned a 108 Beyer Speed Figure for her 11 ¼-length victory in the Nasty Storm. “She was definitely sharp off a layoff, but switched off nicely. They were rolling up front; the pace was fast enough where she wouldn’t necessarily be pulling.”


Brown said that owner Frank Stronach obviously was very happy at Thursday’s result.

“He said, ‘Great job, just do whatever you think is right with the horse. It would be wonderful if you could make Santa Anita, but put the filly first,’” said Brown. “So I’m going to continue to do that. Hopefully, she keeps herself in good order and is nice and healthy and sound and we’ll bring her to Santa Anita.”

The 2010 juvenile filly champion had been training at Saratoga Race Course but will remain at Belmont to prepare for the 1 1/8-mile Ladies’ Classic, said Brown.

“She’s trained well here – she trained for the [Grade 1] Gazelle here – so she knows her way around,” he said. “With the weather, I’m going to leave her here. It’s a little warmer here.”

Looking ahead to the Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational on Super Saturday, September 29, Brown will run both Dream Peace, second in her American debut behind Winter Memories in the Grade 1 Diana for trainer Robert Collet, and Zagora, who rebounded from a third in the Diana to set a Saratoga course record in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo.

“Zagora came out of the race really well,” he said. “She ran fast, which always concerns you, but she’s had plenty of time. She’s moving so smooth. I brought her down to Belmont and I’m very impressed with the way she’s been galloping down here. She’s a filly that’s been pretty consistent since I’ve had her, but with all these horses, as consistent as they look in their races, in their training they have good stretches and so-so stretches. Right now, she’s moving as good as I’ve ever seen her move. You get a feel whether they’re doing good, or doing real good, and she’s doing real good.”

Unlike Dream Peace, who ran in five straight races at the Flower Bowl distance prior to the Diana, Zagora will be making her first start beyond 1 1/8 miles since a second-place finish in the Grade 2 New York in June, 2011.

“She can go 1 ¼ miles,” said Brown. “She’s done it over in Europe, she’s done it here. The question is, can she run her best race at 1 ¼ miles? Is she a Grade 1 horse at 1 ¼ miles? After the [Ballston Spa] I was leaning towards the Spinster [Grade 1, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland]. But when I watch her moving, I think she’s absolutely in career form right now, physically, so that I’m willing to try 1 ¼ miles again because she is doing so well. The distance of the Spinster looks appealing, but I’d rather take my chances on the turf and go a little farther than she wants to go than go for the unknown on the Polytrack.”

Brown added that Center Divider, the Grade 1 Man o’ War runner-up who most recently was seventh in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational, will skip the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational to await the Grade 3 Knickerbocker on Saturday, October 13.

* * *

Trainer Todd Pletcher said he wants to survey weekend workouts before he plots paths for many of his Belmont graded stakes contenders, but did confirm 4-year-olds San Pablo and Stay Thirsty for the Grade 1, $1 million TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup at 1 ¼ miles on September 29.

“They are as definite as you can be in this business,” said Pletcher, who added that both runners will breeze at Belmont on Sunday.

San Pablo has won two straight, the Birdstone on August 2 at Saratoga and the Grade 3 Iselin on August 18 at Monmouth Park.

“I think his last two races have been an improvement,” said Pletcher, who trains San Pablo for Burning Sands Stable. “His Birdstone was a good effort, and the Iselin was another step forward off short rest. He needs to make another slight move forward. He has closed that gap from where he was in January and February towards where some of the better horses are. If he makes another move forward, I think that puts him right there. He’s always been a horse who has shown talent and consistently runs well, and he seems to be putting it all together.”

Mike Repole’s Stay Thirsty, fifth in Saratoga’s Grade 1 Woodward on September 1, seeks his first win since the 2011 Grade 1 Travers. He was third to Flat Out and Drosselmeyer in last year’s TVG Jockey Club Gold Cup.

“It seems like a division where nobody has really taken over, so it’s sort of looking for someone to step up and win more than one in a row,” said Pletcher of the group of top older males. “It seems like a competitive, open race on paper.”

Caixa Eletronica, another Repole Stable representative, will compete in either the Grade 1, $400,000 Vosburgh at six furlongs or the Grade 2, $400,000 Kelso Handicap at one mile on September 29, according to Pletcher.

“It will be an entry-day decision,” he said.

Pletcher added that he is considering the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame Invitational for Disposablepleasure, In Lingerie, and Maristar and that he will decide who will run after they breeze over the next few days.

Stonestreet Stables’ Grade 2 Adirondack heroine Kauai Katie will breeze on Monday for the Grade 2, $200,000 Matron, a seven-furlong race for 2-year-olds on September 30, Pletcher said. The Matron will be contested the same day as the Grade 2, $200,000 Futurity, a six-furlong dash open to all 2-year-olds.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do in the Futurity,” said Pletcher. “It’s open for discussion after some works this weekend.”

* * *

Next Sunday, September 30, Belmont Park will host a pair of Grade 2, six-furlong races for 2-year-olds.

According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, among those likely for the $200,000 Futurity is the Wesley Ward-owned and trained Handsome Jack, most recently runner-up in the Grade 2 Sanford Stakes on opening weekend at Saratoga. Trainer Todd Pletcher could have two entrants, with Mike Repole’s impressive maiden winner Micromanage possibly joined by WinStar Farm’s Revolutionary, third on Labor Day at Saratoga in his sole start. Another Spa maiden winner, Klaravich Stables’ and William H. Lawrence’s Carried Interest is probable. Byrnes said that Special Jo, third in Monmouth Park’s Grade 3 Sapling Stakes, and Majestic Hussar, who followed an impressive maiden victory at Saratoga with a seventh-place finish in the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Hopeful, were both under consideration for the race.

In the $200,000 Matron, for fillies, Stonestreet Stables’ undefeated Grade 2 Adirondack winner Kauai Katie heads a group that Byrnes said also is likely to include Grade 1 Spinaway runner-up Sweet Shirley Mae and fourth-place finisher Seasoned Warrior. Also expected are Doubled, winner of Monmouth’s Sorority Stakes, Baby J, third in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Schuylerville, and maiden winners Heidi’s Holiday and Unabashed. Mr. Hall’s Opus, fourth in the Sorority, was listed as possible.


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