Friday, May 28, 2010


BELMONT PARK NOTES: Thursday, May 27, 2010


ELMONT, N.Y. – The likely field for the 142nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes swelled to 11 Thursday with the announcement that Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Dave in Dixie is targeting the June 5 race.

Trained by John Sadler, the son of Dixie Union broke his maiden at first asking last summer at Del Mar and was sixth behind eventual Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky in the Grade 1 Norfolk in his only other start as a juvenile. Dave in Dixie began his 3-year-old campaign with a second-place effort in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, and followed that by finishing sixth in the Grade 2 San Felipe and fifth in the Grace 3 Illinois Derby, his first start on dirt, on April 3.


According to Thrash, the decision to join the Belmont field was finalized after Dave in Dixie worked a mile at Hollywood Park Thursday morning in 1:39.60.

“It’s worth a shot,” said Thrash, who was represented in the Kentucky Derby by Line of David, who finished 18th, but whose Derby Trial winner, Hurricane Ike, was withdrawn from Preakness consideration the morning of entry. “He worked for the last time [before the Belmont] this morning and we waited until afterward to make sure he was coming.”

According to Thrash, Calvin Borel will ride.

In addition to Dave in Dixie, the field for the Belmont includes Drosselmeyer, First Dude, Fly Down, Game On Dude, Ice Box, Make Music for Me, Spangled Star, Stately Victor, Stay Put, and Uptowncharlybrown.

* * *

In his final serious move for next Saturday’s Belmont, Robert V. LaPenta’s Ice Box posted a bullet four-furlong workout in 46.65 this morning over Saratoga Race Course’s Oklahoma Training Track, the fastest of 22 works at the distance.

Spotting 3-year-old stablemate Dark Cove five lengths at the start of the workout, Ice Box went in 23.25 for the first quarter and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01.02.

“I liked everything about the work,” said Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito of the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent outing.

“I wanted to see what I saw [in his work]. He finished with good energy and he looked good doing it. That’s the main thing. Sometimes, you got to have a little zip in him, even though he’s going a mile-and-a-half. This is the exact workout he had coming into the Kentucky Derby. Hopefully, everything goes good.”

Ice Box, along with stablemate and fellow Belmont hopeful Fly Down, winner of the Grade 2 Dwyer, is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park along with Zito on Wednesday, June 2.

* * *

Belmont hopeful Spangled Star breezed in company with stablemate D’ Funnybone this morning at Aqueduct, covering five furlongs in 1:01.46.

“The two of them went together,” said Spangled Star’s owner Lawrence P. Roman. “The last time they worked out Spangled Star opened about five lengths [on D’ Funnybone]. This time they stayed together, with Spangled Star outgaming D’ Funnybone by a neck. They were really battling. They went slow at the beginning but were flying at the end. Both riders were happy with the way their horses went.”

Roman realizes that Spangled Star, who was third in the Grade 3 Withers in his most recent effort, will have to take a step forward to be a serious contender in the Belmont, but has been pleased with his colt’s recent progress.

“According to the groom and [trainer] Rick [Dutrow], he’s doing better than ever,” said Roman. “I’m not a big believer in workouts, but he seems to be doing well.”

* * *

Convocation, runner-up in the Grade 3 Westchester on Opening Day at Belmont Park, drilled a half-mile in a bullet 48.02 on the training track Thursday morning in preparation for Monday’s 118th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap.

The move was the fastest of 22 works at the distance.

“I wouldn’t have minded if he’d gone a couple of ticks faster, but I was satisfied with it,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “He’s ready to run.”

A five-length allowance winner in his only other start this year, the 4-year-old Pulpit colt will be facing a serious field in the Met Mile, headed by Quality Road, impressive winner of the Donn Handicap in his most recent start. Also being pointed to the Met Mile are Grade 1 Carter winner Warrior’s Reward, Westchester winner Le Grand Cru and fourth-place finisher Honest Man, 2009 Dwyer and Jim Dandy winner Kensei and Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap victor You and I Forever.

Warrior’s Reward was scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park from Kentucky late Thursday afternoon.

“He’s doing great,” said trainer Ian Wilkes of Warrior’s Reward. “He’s had two wins and a second, so that’s hardly a season in which you could be disappointed. Monday’s race is a tough one – it’s a Grade 1 and they don’t just hand them out – but our challenge is to try and beat Quality Road and the other top quality horses in there.”


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