The Bernstein colt – who had a rigorous one-mile workout Sunday morning, walked Monday and jogged Tuesday – will return to galloping tomorrow, said Durnin.
Trainer Alexis Barba is scheduled to return from California this weekend for Make Music for Me’s final breeze on Sunday, and will remain in New York through the Belmont. Next Tuesday morning, Barba – who would become the first woman to saddle a classic winner should Make Music for Me win the Belmont – will travel to Manhattan for a photo opportunity at the Empire State Building.
Last year, trainer Tim Ice participated in the photo op, and four days later his Summer Bird upset the Belmont Stakes.
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In Saratoga Springs, Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito reported that his duo of Ice Box and Fly Down continue to do well as he prepares them for the Belmont Stakes.
“Right now, everything is positive and we want to keep it that way,” he said. “I’m going to stay here, take care of the horses, and go from there.”
Wednesday, Ice Box galloped almost two miles over the Oklahoma Training Track at Saratoga Race Course, and Zito said he would like to breeze the Kentucky Derby runner-up Thursday morning, weather permitting.
Fly Down, who comes into the 1 ½ mile Belmont off a six-length victory over Drosselmeyer in the Grade 2 Dwyer, came out of last Saturday’s 49.40 half-mile breeze in good order and will work once more, either Sunday or Monday, before the Belmont, said Zito.
Zito said he will remain upstate until next Wednesday when he will come back to Belmont with both Ice Box and Fly Down.
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After galloping 1 ½ miles around the Belmont Park oval this morning, Preakness runner-up First Dude was treated to a lengthy grazing session in the clover outside Mike Maker’s barn.
“He’s doing great,” said exercise rider Tammy Fox, who is overseeing First Dude’s preparations for the 142nd running of the Belmont Stakes until trainer Dale Romans’ scheduled arrival on Friday. “He’s getting over the track fine; he’s just floating right over it. He’s such a big horse with a long stride, and you don’t feel like he’s doing anything. He’s real easy on himself.”
The Stephen Got Even will have his final breeze for the Belmont on Saturday morning, said Fox.
Others heading to the Belmont include Lone Star Derby winner Game On Dude, who breezed seven furlongs in 1:26.60 at Santa Anita on Tuesday; Blue Grass winner Stately Victor, who went five furlongs in 59.40 Tuesday at the Trackside training center in Kentucky; Drosselmeyer, Spangled Star, Stay Put, and Uptowncharlybrown.
Stately Victor and Stay Put are scheduled to arrive in New York on Thursday, while Game On Dude will arrive next Tuesday.
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Monday’s 118th running of the Grade 1, $500,000 Metropolitan Handicap is shaping up to be a stellar renewal, with Grade 1 Carter winner Warrior’s Reward, 2009 Dwyer and Jim Dandy winner Kensei, Gulfstream Park Handicap victor You and I Forever, and the 1-4 finishers in the Westchester – Le Grand Cru, Convocation, Ironman Jon and Honest Man – among those looking to line up against multiple Grade 1 winner Quality Road in the one-mile race.
Quality Road, who earned a 121 Beyer Speed Figure in his most recent start, February’s Grade 1 Donn Handicap, had his final tune-up for the Met Mile on Tuesday, covering five furlongs in 59.66.
“He came out of it in excellent shape,” reported trainer Todd Pletcher, who trains the 4-year-old son of Elusive Quality for Edward P. Evans. “We don’t want to over-train him, but sure, anything you haven’t run in a while you have a concern. You want to make sure they are ready to run. This is a tough spot, but we think we know him well enough and know that he’s run well fresh enough times that we have an idea of what he needs to be ready.”
Convocation is set to have his final work Thursday morning, said trainer Jimmy Jerkens, while prepping Wednesday for the Met Mile was Ironman Jon, who zipped five furlongs over the main track in a bullet 59.12 for trainer Mike Hushion.
On Tuesday, Le Grand Cru went seven furlongs on the main track in 1:28.65.
“He’s doing great this morning,” reported Fernando Abreu, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer H. Allen Jerkens. “It looks like it’s going to be a really tough race, but our horse is doing well.”