•Romans hoping for firm going in Breeders’ Cup for beaten Jamaica favorite Dullahan
•Multiple stakes-winning Ontario-bred Stormy Lord under serious consideration for G3 Knickerbocker
•Ruthenia, Barocci give Clement barn turf condition hedge for Athenia and Knickerbocker
“Both 2-year-old stakes winners seemed to exit their races in good shape,” said Beckman of Dreaming of Julia, who headed My Happy Face in the Frizette, and Shangahi Bobby, now 4-for-4 after his five-length Foxwoods Champagne triumph. “They both looked good this morning.”
Beckman said that while plans call for Dreaming of Julia to head to California for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita next month, no decision has been made on Shanghai Bobby’s next start.
“Plans for Shanghai Bobby will be under further review by Todd and Mr. Jack Wolf,” said Beckman.
Also Saturday, the Pletcher barn unveiled yet another promising juvenile in Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Darwin. The son of Big Brown, out of the Silver Ghost mare Cool Ghoul, came under pressure early before shaking clear of his rivals and going on to a two-length victory in 1:09.54 in the third race.
“He came out of the race in really good shape,” said Beckman of Darwin, who fetched $1.3 million in March at the Fasig-Tipton sales. “His race was very impressive. He stepped up and showed he has some ability.”
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Favored Dullahan’s distaste for the less-than-firm going in Saturday’s Jamaica Handicap proved to be his undoing as he came home fifth in his attempt to add a Grade 1 on the turf to his trio of Grade 1 victories over synthetic surfaces, said trainer Dale Romans this morning.
“He has proven to be quite finicky in that regard,” said Romans of the Donegal Racing color-bearer. “If he doesn’t get firm ground, whether it’s synthetic, dirt or grass, he just doesn’t run.”
With a better-than-average chance of getting firm turf and/or a fast track at Santa Anita next month, Romans said Dullahan will head back to Kentucky before going on to compete in one of three Breeders’ Cup events: the Classic at 1 ¼ miles on dirt, the Mile, or the 1 ½-mile Turf.
“We’ll take him to California and Jerry Crawford and I will figure out what to do,” said Romans. “The track is key thing. We’ll leave everything open.”
Dullahan, a 3-year-old son of Even the Score, is 3-2-3 from 13 career starts with earnings of $1,714,091.
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Multiple stakes-winning Ontario-bred Stormy Lord is under serious consideration for a start in Saturday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker, trainer Ian Black confirmed by phone on Sunday.
“It’s 1 1/8 miles, and he likes some give in the ground,” said Black, who trains the 5-year-old Stormy Atlantic gelding for David Willmot. “I thought we might get both [at Belmont].”
Stormy Lord is also nominated for next Sunday’s Grade 1 Canadian International at Woodbine, his home track. The $1.5 million “Win and You’re In” Breeders’ Cup Challenge race is contested at 1 ½ miles.
“I think there are a lot of Europeans coming in and at 1 ½ miles, it might not be ideal,” Black said. “I’ll have a better idea in a couple of days, but I think it’s better than 50/50 we’re coming your way.”
Stormy Lord exits a repeat win in the PTHA President’s Cup at Parx Racing, his first victory since taking last October’s Labeeb Stakes at Woodbine. The gelding was narrowly beaten in two starts at Woodbine prior to the PTHA President’s Cup – the Grade 2 Sky Classic and a turf allowance.
Overall, he has earned $1,153,686 and boasts a record of 9-7-1 from 27 starts, with six stakes wins including last year’s Grade 2 Connaught Cup at Woodbine.
On Sunday, he turned in an easy breeze over the turf training track at Woodbine, covering five furlongs in 1:01.20.
“He went well,” said Black. “Just breezing, happy to be out there.”
Black said that if he chooses to run Stormy Lord in the Knickerbocker, the gelding likely will ship to Belmont on Thursday.
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Ruthenia and Barocci have the Christophe Clement barn hedged for any possible turf course condition in the Grade 3 Knickerbocker and Grade 3 Athenia next Saturday at Belmont.
Ruthenia, a 4-year-old who won the Grade 3 Violet in May at Monmouth Park, is likely to run in the 1 1/16-mile Athenia for fillies and mares if there isn’t too much give in the turf, according to Christophe Lorieul, assistant to Clement.
“At the moment the week is good in terms of the weather forecast,” said Lorieul. “We just hope it stays that way because she’s a small filly and I don’t think she cares too much for good ground. We have a couple of other options [for the Athenia], a filly like Future Generation. It was off the turf the other day [when she was entered in Wednesday’s Valor Lady overnight stakes], but the one we are at the moment pointing [to the Athenia] is Ruthenia.”
Owned by Virginia Kraft Payson, Ruthenia finished fourth in her two most recent starts, the Grade 3 Eatontown Handicap in June at Monmouth and the Grade 2 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo on August 25 at Saratoga Race Course.
Wildenstein Stable’s Barocci, a 4-year-old Japanese-bred son of Deep Impact, will make his North American stakes debut in the 1 1/8-mile Knickerbocker. He is 1-2-1 in four starts in the United States and comes into the Knickerbocker off a second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in an optional claimer on August 26 at Saratoga.
Lorieul said Barocci, who won a listed stakes in France over “heavy” ground, can handle any going but could have a distinct advantage over his Knickerbocker opponents if the Belmont turf comes up yielding or soft.
“This one, I don’t think it will matter what kind of ground we have,” said Lorieul. “He’s run on everything, and maybe the cut in the ground would be in his favor. He’s run in Europe, and with the way he moves in the morning you would think he would like a little cut in the ground. [Ruthenia] is more top of the ground; I don’t think she would handle [soft turf] very well. She has a very good turn of foot and you have to place it, and it has to be firm, I think.”