“We’ll see how he comes out of this race and follow his lead,” added Violette.
The final time of 56.62 for five furlongs was 0.87 seconds off the track record set by Kelly Kip in 1996.
“I knew he had a shot to win, but he wasn’t prepped to run the race of his life today,” said Violette. “He was prepped to do what he did today, but if somebody was going to run faster than us they were going to run faster than us.”
Violette trains Carried Interest for Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, who purchased the Henny Hughes colt for $190,000 at OBS March Sale of Selected Two-Year-Olds in Training.
“He was a very fast colt, very smart,” said Violette. “We knew he’d be quick but we think he can stretch out a little bit. I don’t think he’ll be a stone-cold sprinter. He has a good mind and has been a pro throughout. [Palace Malice] is a nice horse, also. He came to us twice, and we said ‘no.’ Hopefully we’re not just the head of the class and his talent will carry him forward to next year as well.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was pleased with Palace Malice’s performance.
“We just ran into a quicker horse,” said Pletcher, who trains the son of Curlin for Dogwood Stable. “We think our horse will improve when he stretches out, and we hope that will be the case. He got behind horses, and had to make some room for himself at the top of the stretch. We were very encouraged.”
Pletcher said he will find a maiden special weight at Saratoga for Palace Malice’s next start.
“We’re not going to do anything too cute,” said Pletcher.
Pletcher added that Mill House’s Dr. Chit, a 3 ¾-length winner of the Western Larla overnight stakes on Thursday, will be considered for the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 29 at Saratoga.
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Trainer Christophe Clement sent last-out allowance winner Barocci for a half-mile breeze Friday morning at Belmont Park as he ponders the next start for the Japanese-bred colt. Both Barocci – who covered four furlongs over the main track in 50.37 – and stablemate Philly Ace are under consideration for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War, run at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. Clement won the Man o’ War in 2009 and 2010 with two-time turf champion Gio Ponti, who was second in the 2011 edition of the race.
“He had a nice, easy breeze on the dirt,” Clement said of Barocci. “I don’t know what’s next. We’ll have to think about it and we’ll make a decision over the weekend. Everything is wide open. We’ll see how he comes out of his work – it’s very warm – so I want to reassess and then by Monday morning we’ll know what’s going on.”
Barocci, who is campaigned by Wildenstein Stable, is a stakes winner and Group 3-placed in France, where he started his career. Since coming to the U.S. and joining Clement’s string, the 4-year-old son of Deep Impact has made two starts at Belmont, winning a turf allowance optional claimer at 1 ¼ miles on June 20 and finishing second in a one-mile turf allowance on May 13.
Brushwood Stable’s Philly Ace, a 4-year-old homebred son of Smart Strike, has won his last two starts, both one-mile turf optional claiming events, one at Belmont on June 14 and one at Monmouth Park on May 20. Clement said Philly Ace might work Sunday on the turf and that he would make a decision by Monday.
“Same story, we’ll reassess by Monday morning,” the trainer said. “I just want to see the way they train the next two days and decide. Tomorrow is a very warm day, we will jog. Sunday, Philly Ace might work on the grass, and then we’ll go from there.”
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Can lightning strike twice for Naipaul Chatterpaul? In June, almost two years to the day after he claimed Mission Approved for $35,000, Game Ball was claimed for $47,500 at Woodbine and Chatterpaul hopes the 5-year-old son of Sky Mesa can follow in his stablemate’s footsteps.
One month after being haltered, Mission Approved very nearly pulled off a 53-1 upset of multiple Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti in the 2010 Grade 1 Man o’ War, finishing second by a neck after leading to deep stretch. A year later, he became a Grade 1 winner, taking the Manhattan Handicap in a front-running 23-1 performance.
As he did with Mission Approved, Chatterpaul is pointing Game Ball to the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’ War, the final graded stakes of the Belmont spring/summer meet.
“Sometimes, you have to reach in and take a shot,” he said. “It’s all about gambling.”
Chatterpaul said he’d been keeping an eye for some time on Game Ball, who spent the majority of his career in the care of Mark Casse. Owned and bred by John Oxley, the colt started at Tampa Bay Downs, winning a pair of races, and then finished last of eight in the 2010 Grade 3 Illinois Derby, in which Chatterpaul said Game Ball grabbed a hind ankle. Off for seven months, Game Ball returned to run in claiming races on both turf and synthetics, winning once in six starts.
Dropped into a $7,500 claimer going 1 ½ miles on the dirt at Fort Erie last August, Game Ball whistled by 6 ¾ lengths. He proceeded to win his next five starts, all in starter allowances, including three more at Fort Erie on the dirt – two at 1 ½ miles and one at 2 miles and 70 yards – and two on the turf at Gulfstream Park, at 1 1/16 miles and 1 1/8 miles.
“Since the [$7,500 race], he’s been a different horse,” said Chatterpaul. “I was hoping they would put him in for a tag at Gulfstream Park. I thought he was going to be a nice horse as a 3-year-old. I liked the pedigree – it says he can run all day long. I liked the horse. Every time he won, I’d sit and wait.”
Claimed for owner Dorothy Gentner out of his second-place finish in a 1 1/16-mile claiming race on the turf at Woodbine, Game Ball has had one work at Belmont, breezing five furlongs around the dogs on the inner turf on July 1. So far, Chatterpaul likes what he’s been seeing.
“I like the way he’s been training,” said Chatterpaul. “He’s very kind and he runs his heart out every time. He should put in a good effort that day if everything goes well.”
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Next Saturday’s 54th running of the Grade 1, $600,000 Man o’War at 1 3/8 miles on the turf marks the final graded stakes of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet. NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes said Friday that the race is likely to attract Treasure Beach, a Group/Grade 1 winner in Europe and the U.S., having taken Arlington Park’s 2011 renewal of the Secretariat Stakes as well as last year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh. Also expected are Center Divider, Game Ball, Grade 2 Dixie winner Hudson Steele, Grade 2 Pan American winner Newsdad, and Grade 2 Elkhorn winner Point of Entry.
In addition to Barocci and Philly Ace, under consideration for Christophe Clement, Byrnes said that Pawpaw Bodie, runner-up in last month’s Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap, might also join the field.
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Trainer John Kimmel is taking his time with Fire On Ice, who recently returned to the worktab and is looking to make his first start since debuting a 10 ¾-length winner on Travers Day last August.
Fire On Ice went to the sidelines with a non-displaced condylar fracture in his left hind leg in September, not long after Frank Stronach bought a majority interest in the son of Unbridled’s Song. Since returning to the racetrack, Fire On Ice has posted three-furlong breezes at Belmont June 17, June 24, and July 1.
“He’s going to breeze [again] Sunday or Monday,” said Kimmel. “It’s going to be a progressive thing. He’s been galloping at the farm, just trying to get the foundation. He still has his difficult personality. He needs and lip shank and goes with the pony. He’s doing well.”
Kimmel said he hopes to find an entry-level allowance race for Fire On Ice in approximately two months.
“There’s no reason to rush. He’s been off for almost a year,” said Kimmel. “If we have him back [in late August], that’d be good. There are plenty of races.”