Sunday, May 27, 2012

BELMONT PARK NOTES: Sunday, May 26, 2012

ELMONT, N.Y. – Under bright and sunny skies, Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another had a second energetic gallop over Belmont Park’s main track this morning as he continues preparations for the June 9 Belmont Stakes.

As he did on Friday, the chestnut colt went to the track accompanied by his stable pony, Lava Man, and galloped just under a mile with exercise rider Humberto Gomez in the irons. As he passed by the grandstand, I’ll Have Another received a big round of applause from the “Breakfast at Belmont” fans lined up along the rail.

Afterward, with clear blue skies and the sun shining for the first time all week, I’ll Have Another was treated to his first full head-to-tail soapy bath since arriving from Pimlico on Sunday.

“We did exactly the same as we did yesterday, the only thing different was the sunshine – it’s been a beautiful morning here at Belmont,’ said trainer Doug O’Neill’s assistant, Jack Sisterson. “Obviously, he could tell the sun was out. He went fantastic over the track again this morning. So far, so good.”

O’Neill is scheduled to be on hand Sunday to personally supervise the remainder of the Belmont preparations for J. Paul Reddam’s colt, who is bidding to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont in 1978. The 1 ½-mile Belmont has since tripped up 11 Triple Crown hopefuls, most recently Big Brown in 2008.

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Dullahan on Saturday turned in one last workout at his home base, Churchill Downs, prior to his arrival in New York for the Belmont Stakes, traveling one mile in 1:43 with Tammy Fox aboard.

“It was old school as we worked him one mile to try to get more into him,” said trainer Dale Romans via telephone. “It’s been a long time [since I had a horse work one mile]. He didn’t seem tired afterwards and he galloped out nicely.”

Dullahan will depart Louisville by van Saturday night and arrive at Belmont early Sunday morning, Romans said. His final workout before the Belmont Stakes likely will come June 2.

Romans added he initially wanted to run Dullahan in the Preakness following his third in the Kentucky Derby but was talked out of it by owner Jerry Crawford of Donegal Racing, who wanted to wait for the Belmont. The trainer now believes Crawford had the best strategy.

“In hindsight, I think Jerry made the right decision,” said Romans. “This gives us the best chance to win a classic.”

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Street Life, a winner of two of his five career starts and most recently third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan, tuned up for his engagement in the Belmont this morning with a sharp four-furlong breeze over the main track in 47.82 seconds.

Exercise rider Richard Johnson was aboard for the move, the ninth-fastest of 44 at the distance.

“I was real happy with the move,” said Chad Brown, who trains Street Life for Magnolia Racing and Hidden Brook Farm. “He galloped out well and came back good, so it was just what I was looking for. I think this horse is bred to run all day, and he trains like he wants to run all day, so I’m excited to get him to that 1 ½-mile distance and see what he does.”

Street Life will be among as many as 11 lining up to put a stop to I’ll Have Another’s bid to become racing’s 12th Triple Crown winner, but Brown has no qualms about assuming the role of potential spoiler.

“I’m a racing fan, so of course I’d like to see another Triple Crown winner,” he said. “But nine years ago when I worked for Bobby Frankel, we were in the same position. I saw him stop Funny Cide with Empire Maker. It wasn’t a real popular win but he had a plan to win that race, and I’m just trying to follow the same pattern.”

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Lars Becdelamotte, assistant to trainer Ken McPeek, said both Shortleaf Stable’s Atigun and Magdalena Racing and Mojallali Stables’ Unstoppable U are probable for the Belmont Stakes after the pair turned in separate breezes on Saturday.

“I’m very happy with both works,” said Becdelamotte. “Right now, I think both are going to the Belmont Stakes. Atigun is 100 percent, and Unstoppable U is 99 percent.”

Atigun went four furlongs in 46.77, quickest of 44 moves at the distance.

“He looked like he handled the track unbelievably,” said Becdelamotte of Atigun, winner of a May 5 optional claimer at Churchill Downs.

Lightly raced Unstoppable U had an unexpected target during his breeze but jockey Junior Alvarado was able to restrain the colt, who was eager to pursue the worker in front of him. Like Atigun, Unstoppable U earned a bullet for his effort as he went five furlongs in 59.22.

“Junior didn’t want to let the horse just run because he would have run the other horse down and go in 58 and change,” said Becdelamotte. “But at the same time, he let him run a little bit. No concerns about it.”

Both Atigun and Unstoppable U are tentatively scheduled to breeze five furlongs next Saturday, according to Becdelamotte.

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