“Time between sure doesn’t hurt her,” Jones said. “She’s already raced four times [this year] and if we’re going to have her around come Breeders’ Cup time, we’ve got to kind of space her out a little bit. So, probably the Mother Goose, and the main objective now after we’ve got the Kentucky Oaks is the Alabama, but what we do to get her to the Alabama is the question. I’m going to say the Mother Goose, and then whether we do the Coaching Club Oaks or just go straight to the Alabama from there, we just have to see what happens.”
“It just was great,” Larry Jones said of Oaks Day. “Of course, I’m from Kentucky, and we all think the Kentucky Oaks is the second-best horse race in the world. The Derby is the only thing better than that for an old Kentucky boy. People tell me that winning the Derby, or winning the Oaks, a lot of people can do it once. But, if you win it twice, maybe you really do deserve to do it. So, that gives you a little bit of logic that maybe the first time wasn’t pure luck! You’ve got to get lucky, but hopefully it’s more than just luck.
“To be able to do it with Rosie, her being the very first [female] Oaks winner, also to do it on Ladies’ Day, with the lady, and then what better for the women that are trying to survive cancer than to Believe You Can?” Jones continued. “Everything fell into the spot…it kind of makes you think it was meant to be.”
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Trainer Dale Romans is targeting major races at Belmont Park for three of his stable stars’ next starts.
Dullahan, a multiple Grade 1 winner who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, will skip the Preakness and make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9. The announcement was made in a Friday press release by Jerry Crawford, managing partner of Donegal Racing.
Last year’s Preakness winner, Shackleford, is heading to the Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Mile on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28. The tenacious son of Forestry is coming off an impressive victory over reigning Eclipse champion sprinter Amazombie in the Grade 2 Churchill Downs on May 7.
“He ran a terrific race at Churchill Downs, and we’re really looking forward to the Met Mile,” said Romans, who was at his Belmont Park base on Friday.
Romans also confirmed that Tapitsfly, who won the Grade 2 Honey Fox on March 18 at Gulfstream Park, will join the field for the Grade 1, $500,000 Just a Game on Belmont Stakes Day. She was most recently second in the Grade 2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on Derby Day, finishing a length behind Hungry Island, who is also pointing for the Just a Game for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
While no plans have been finalized yet, Romans said he may ship all three horses to Belmont Park a few days after the May 19 Preakness. They are currently stabled at Churchill Downs.
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Union Rags, who finished seventh as the second choice in the Kentucky Derby after an eventful trip, will likely make his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, said trainer Michael Matz. The winner of Belmont’s Grade 1 Champagne last fall, Union Rags returned to the track at the Fair Hill Training Center on Thursday.
“He came out of the race fine,” said Matz. “He’s been galloping the past two days. We won’t know for certain for a couple of weeks, but I would imagine if everything goes fine, we’ll look for the Belmont.”
The Derby marked the first time in seven starts that the Chadds Ford Stable color-bearer finished off the board. Union Rags, who also counts the Grade 2 Three Chimneys Saratoga Special and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park among his victories, was second in the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.
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Alpha, 12th in the Kentucky Derby, returned to the track at Belmont Park this morning and is under consideration for the Belmont Stakes, said Art Magnuson, assistant to trainer Kiaran McLaughlin.
“He’s sound, he’s happy, no problems – he came out of the Derby great,” said Magnuson of Alpha, who won the Aqueduct’s Count Fleet and Grade 3 Withers and finished second in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino new York City Wood Memorial prior to the Derby. “There’s no pressure or anything. If he’s fine and doing well, we’d look at the Belmont. It’s something Simon Crisford [Godolphin racing manager] has mentioned. It’s definitely a possibility.”
Magnuson added that multiple Grade 1 winner It’s Tricky, 2-for-2 this year with victories in the Grade 2 Distaff and the Grade 2 Top Flight at Aqueduct, would work either Sunday or Monday. The 4-year-old Godolphin filly is scheduled to make her next start in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28.
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Trainer Christophe Clement may be best known for his turf runners – three-time Eclipse Award winner Gio Ponti, multiple Grade 1 winner Winchester, multiple graded stakes winner Rutherienne are among his recent grass stars – but on Saturday the trainer will saddle promising 3-year-old Summer Front in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes, a local prep for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 9. The son of War Front won his first three career starts, all on turf and including two stakes, before finishing 1 ½ lengths behind All Squared Away in the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington over Keeneland’s artificial surface on April 21.
“I’m excited about him,” Clement said. “He’s been training very well and he looks very well. I’ve got a small question mark because I’ve never run him on dirt, that’s the big deal, but we’ve got to try him, and we’ll see what happens. It’s a good race, plenty of speed. As long as we get a good reading, that’s all I want – a good reading so we can decide what to do after that.”
Clement added that he would take his time with recent turf maiden winner Antonia Autumn, a three-quarter sister to Gio Ponti, who won at first asking on April 29 at Belmont Park.
“She’s come back from the race a little bit stiff, so I just want to give her a bit of time,” said Clement. “I do not want to rush her. She’s not going to run right away, I’ll give her some time and bring her back quietly in June. I was impressed by the race, and I want to be sure we do the right thing by the filly. The way she won the other day, I will be disappointed if she does not turn out to be a stakes filly, I just think we have to give her the time to get her there. That’s the plan.”
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Mine Over Matter, Uncle T Seven and Itsagoodtendollars, the top three finishers from the overnight Fabersham stakes at Aqueduct on April 22, head the field of probable starters for Saturday’s inaugural Affirmed Success. Named for the multiple Grade 1 winning New York-bred, the seven-furlong Affirmed Success is also likely to attract Law Enforcement, winner of the Hollie Hughes on February 12, and Wee Freudian, who finished fourth in the Fabersham. Bandbox, Freudian Dilemma and Saginaw are possible, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.