Sunday, June 05, 2011

BELMONT PARK NOTES - June 5th 2011

ELMONT, N.Y. – Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up Animal Kingdom is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park early Sunday morning, and will gallop over the main track in advance of Monday’s final workout for the 143rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 11, trainer Graham Motion said today.

“He’ll be leaving here about 4 a.m. and should arrive between 7 and 7:30 a.m.,” said Motion from the training center at Fair Hill, Md. “We expect to gallop him on the main track after the break [8:45 a.m.] and then he will breeze Monday morning, also after the break.”

With Preakness winner Shackleford confirmed for the 1 ½-mile Belmont following today’s five-furlong breeze in 1:00.30, the Belmont will serve as a rubber match between the two individual winners of the first two legs of the Triple Crown for just the 22nd time in race history. Preakness winner Afleet Alex was the last to win a Derby-Preakness showdown in the Belmont in 2005, when Derby winner Giacomo finished seventh.

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Kharag Stables’ Harlan’s Hello breezed at Belmont Park Saturday morning, but trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal has yet to decide whether the colt will join stablemate Isn’t He Perfect in the starting gate for the Belmont Stakes.

With Rajiv Maragh aboard, Harlan’s Hello traveled four furlongs in 51.89, according to NYRA clockers.

The move was Harlan’s Hello second official workout following his nose victory in a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer at Belmont on May 13. The son of Harlan’s Holiday is also under consideration for the Time for a Change overnight stakes on Friday.

“We didn’t go for a hard work,” said Shivmangal. “We expect a lot of Harlan’s Hello, but we want to take more time with him. We want him to mature. He just had his birthday on May 8. We know he has a lot of potential, based off the race he just ran. It was a hard race for him. He’s doing fine – he’s eating and doing everything perfectly – but I just want to make sure we put him in the right spot.”

Shivmangal said he will make a final decision on Harlan’s Hello by Tuesday.

“We are thinking about where we are going to put both of them,” said Shivmangal. “Isn’t He Perfect is already there. Harlan’s Hello, we may take a little longer with him. We don’t know if we’re going to go to the Belmont or not. I don’t like running two horses in the same race.”

Isn’t He Perfect, ninth in the Preakness for owner Shivmangal Racing Stable, will most likely gallop up to a start in the Belmont Stakes, but Shivmangal didn’t completely rule out breezing him on Wednesday.

“We gave him two-minute licks this morning, and the exercise rider came back and said he did very well,” said Shivmangal. “He’s eating perfectly and taking the things he normally takes. I gallop him two miles a day. Maybe Wednesday I might give him a three-eighths breeze just to open up his wind a little, but nothing much more.”

Maragh will ride Isn’t He Perfect in the Belmont Stakes.

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Trainer Christophe Clement pronounced reigning Eclipse Champion turf male Gio Ponti’s formal preparations for the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan complete following a six-furlong work in 1:13.24 over the Belmont Park turf course Saturday morning. The 6-year-old son of Tale of the Cat was accompanied by Interaction, who was clocked in 1:13.57.

“Gio Ponti had a very nice work,” Clement said. “Everything is great. It was his final work before the race and the plan is to run, next Saturday in the Manhattan with Ramon Dominguez.”

The nation’s top turf male in 2009 and 2010 and top older male in 2009, the Castleton Lyons representative has not raced since finishing fifth, beaten less than two lengths, in the Dubai World Cup on March 26, his only start of 2011. Gio Ponti is so far following the same race schedule as he did in 2010 – after a fourth-place effort in Dubai last year he returned in the Manhattan, finishing second to stablemate Winchester.

Gio Ponti had only two works listed between the Dubai World Cup and the last year’s edition of the Manhattan, while this Saturday’s move was Gio Ponti’s fourth since returning from overseas.

“I think it’s [two] more works this year than last between the Dubai race and the Manhattan,” Clement said. “The horse looks well, he seems to be eager to race, and we’ll go from there. I preferred to work today than tomorrow because I think that a week out when you get to that level is of racing is better than six days.”

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