• Belmont Stakes hopeful Samraat tunes up at Aqueduct Racetrack
• Social Inclusion turns in fast three-furlong breeze on Saturday; final decision on Belmont Stakes or Woody Stephens to be announced tomorrow
• General a Rod joins Belmont Stakes field following Saturday workout at Churchill Downs
• Medal Count breezes at Churchill Downs, arrives for Belmont Thursday
ELMONT, N.Y. - Belmont Stakes contender Tonalist, trained by Christophe Clement for Robert Evans, put in his final work before the June 7 "Test of the Champion" on Saturday morning at Belmont Park. The son of Tapit was clocked in 1:00.11 for five furlongs, working in company with stablemate Life in Shambles.
"We are excited about the work and excited about the horse," said Clement. "I got him in a minute and am very happy about everything. He went in company with Life in Shambles and it was a good work."
Tonalist won the Grade 2 Peter Pan by four lengths on May 10 at Belmont Park over a sloppy, sealed main track. Prior to his Peter Pan score, the 3-year-old colt took a maiden race at Gulfstream Park during the winter, and finished second in an optional claimer, 3 ¼ lengths behind eventual Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Constitution.
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Away from the commotion at Belmont Park, where California Chrome and Tonalist logged their final works before the Belmont Stakes on Saturday morning, Samraat geared up for the final leg of the Triple Crown at Aqueduct Racetrack. The son of
Noble Causeway went an easy mile in 1:47.55 seconds.
"It was very, very good," said Samraat's trainer, Rick Violette, who trains the colt for Len Riggio's My Meadowview Farm. "He went the last quarter in :24, which was just what we were looking for. He didn't break any stop watches, but it was pretty cool."
Samraat has not raced since the May 3 Kentucky Derby, in which he finished fifth after contesting the early pace. The 3-year-old colt started his career with five consecutive victories before finishing second behind Wicked Strong in the Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial at Aqueduct.
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Social Inclusion, third in the Preakness, sizzled in a Saturday workout at Belmont Park, with his owner, Ronald Sanchez, saying a final decision on whether he competes in the Belmont Stakes or Grade 2 Woody Stephens to be made later today and announced tomorrow.
NYRA clockers credited Social Inclusion with a three-furlong breeze in 33.55 seconds and caught him galloping out a half-mile in :45 2/5, five-eighths in :58, and six furlongs in 1:09 4/5.
"We weren't expecting him to go that fast," said Sanchez. "The horse was real good. The track was lightning fast, and that was the best gallop out he's ever had. He showed them this morning how good he is feeling."
Social Inclusion, who is trained by Manuel Azpurua, easily won his first two races before finishing third in both the Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial in April and in the Preakness.
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General a Rod, 11th in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness, has joined the list of contenders for the Belmont Stakes after breezing five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on Saturday at Churchill Downs. He'll join California Chrome and Ride On Curlin in the group of horses who are set to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
"His workout was nothing out of character," said Mike Maker, who trains General a Rod for Skychai Racing and Starlight Racing. "He's always been a good work horse, and he had good energy this morning."
Rosie Napravnik will ride General a Rod in the Belmont Stakes, Maker said.
General a Rod won the Gulfstream Park Derby in January before finishing second in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth in February and third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in March. He was steadied on the first turn and in the stretch when beaten 9 ¼ lengths in the Derby and was shuffled back when beaten eight lengths in the Preakness.
"Sooner or later we'll have a good trip," said Maker.
General a Rod will fly to New York on Thursday, Maker said.
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Trainer Dale Romans today sent out Belmont contender Medal Count for a second straight bullet work at Churchill Downs, where the bay son of Dynaformer covered six furlongs in a brisk 1:10 3/5, fastest of eight at the distance. Last week, Medal Count - who had an eventful trip when eighth in the Kentucky Derby in his most recent start - breezed five furlongs in 59 2/5.
"I thought he worked great and I was really happy with the way he galloped out," said Romans of the Spendthrift Farm color-bearer. "Belmont Park should suit him well and I don't think the mile-and-a-half will be an issue for him."
Medal Count, who counts the Grade 3 Transylvania among his three career victories, will arrive at Belmont Park on Thursday on a flight from Kentucky along with the Mike Maker-trained General a Rod.
Medal Count will be the fifth Belmont starter for Romans, who was third in 2005 with Nolan's Count, third in 2010 with First Dude, fifth in 2011 with Preakness winner Shackleford, and seventh in 2012 with favored Dullahan.
"Like I said two years ago [before I'll Have Another scratched], I'm not out to spoil a Triple Crown, I want to win the Belmont Stakes," said Romans. "I wouldn't be coming if I didn't think the horse could do it."