Winner of Aqueduct’s Grade 2 Remsen last November, he embarked on the Kentucky Derby trail in February with a pair of third-place finishes in Gulfstream Park’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and Aqueduct’s Grade 1 Wood Memorial. He then ran 13th in the Kentucky Derby after a troubled trip and was given time off.
Returning at the end of May, the Gulch colt showed interest in his turf debut at Colonial Downs and followed that effort with a nose loss to Gio Ponti in the Grade 2 Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs, also on the grass.
What this boils down to is that, while Court Vision has not exactly dominated his races, he has not exactly disappointed, either. He has run well on dirt and turf and even won on Polytrack at Keeneland early in his career, and just might be a horse that gets better as he gets older.
Saturday, Court Vision returns to the grass at Belmont Park for the 59th running of the Grade 2, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap for three-year-olds at nine furlongs on the inner turf course.
“He’s an unusual horse in that he has proven he can run on any surface,” Mott said. “That was the reason we tried him on the turf in the first place, to find his best surface. And, in the Virginia Derby, he just got beat. He ran a winning race, even though he didn’t win.
“To me, he is a very useful horse and one that I think will be a very interesting horse next year. He has run from six furlongs to a mile and a quarter, and as I said, he handles any surface. We would love to get a graded stakes win on the turf here. We haven’t looked far beyond this race. I think that after the first of the year, we will have a lot of options with him.”
John Velazquez has the mount on Court Vision in the Jamaica, which will be run as the sixth race on Saturday’s 10-race card. Court Vision will carry 117 pounds.
Trainer Christophe Clement has a steady player in Castleton Lyons Farm’s Gio Ponti, a Tale of the Cat colt who has won four of six starts, including the nose victory over Court Vision in the Virginia Derby on July 19.
He then shipped to California, where he ran second to Madeo in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, in which he was beaten a half-length.
“After he won the Virginia Derby, we thought we had a very good chance to win at Del Mar,” Clement said. “We were disappointed that he didn’t win, but not disappointed in the horse. He ran a good race, and if he runs well on Saturday, we’ll take him back to California for the Hollywood Derby [Grade 1, $500,000, 1 ¼ miles, turf, Hollywood Park, November 30].
Willmott Stables Inc.’s Wesley has won three of seven starts this year with a pair of seconds for trainer Mark Hennig. The El Prado colt was a half-length winner over Thou Swell in Saratoga’s Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes on August 4. Wesley gets a new jockey for the Jamaica in Edgar Prado, while trainer George Weaver makes a jockey change to Jean-Luc Samyn and adds blinkers for Thou Swell.
“Wesley has been doing great,” said Hennig. “I am hoping the turf firms up a little bit by Saturday afternoon.”
Ready’s Echo had trouble in his turf debut but still managed to run fourth in Saratoga’s Grade 3 Saranac on August 31. With Velazquez on Court Vision, trainer Todd Pletcher will go with jockey Eibar Coa on this son of More Than Ready, who dead-heated with Anak Nakal for third behind Da’Tara and Denis of Cork in the Belmont Stakes.
Slambino shocked Saratoga on Travers Day, August 23, when he won by a head at better than 86-1. Although he ran third in his next start, he was uncharacteristically up pressing the pace. Channing Hill has the return mount.
Owner/trainer Dennis Manning completes this field with Roman Tiger, a Tiger Ridge colt who was beaten a half-length in the Grade 3 Kent at Delaware Park by Adriano. Wesley was fifth in that race, beaten a length and three-quarters for it all.
Conspicuously absent from the Jamaica is Sailor’s Cap, the Grade 3 Colonial Turf Cup winner who was third in the Virginia Derby. Trainer Jimmy Toner scoped the Distant View filly after a recent workout and found a mucous build up. After consulting with owners Team Valor International, it was decided to skip the race.
The field for Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Jamaica Handicap:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Slambino Frank Alexander Channing Hill 114
2. Wesley Mark Hennig Edgar Prado 117
3. Thou Swell George Weaver Jean-Luc Samyn 115
4. Gio Ponti Christophe Clement Alan Garcia 119
5. Court Vision Bill Mott John Velazquez 117
6. Ready’s Echo Todd Pletcher Eibar Coa 114
7. Roman Tiger Dennis Manning Rajiv Maragh 115
Thou Swell will race with blinkers.