Edited NYRA Release – Rebel’s Romance gave his connections just what they were looking for in his final piece of serious preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets, with a sharp six-furlong work in 1:14.29 over the Belmont Park main track on Wednesday morning.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from June 3 through Saturday, June 5, and is headlined by the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.
Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70s, Rebel’s Romance worked in company with stablemate Desert Peace, who is targeting the Grade 2, $300,000 True North on Friday, June 4.
The Charlie Appleby-trained pair took a walk through the paddock before heading out to the main track at 9:00 a.m. The two horses jogged clockwise in front of the grandstand and around the far turn before beginning their work down the backstretch.
Rebel’s Romance, winner of the Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse last out, tracked to the outside of Desert Peace as clockers caught the duo through splits of 25.00, 36.80 and 1:00.58. Just past the quarter-pole, Rebel’s Romance established a slight advantage over Desert Peace and was coaxed along approaching the wire, completing his move in 1:14.29 while Desert Peace finished up in 1:14.61.
Wednesday morning’s workout was a third breeze in one week for both horses. In their previous two works, Rebel’s Romance was strategically placed right off Desert Peace, who would finish off ahead of his stable mate.
Sophie Chretien, travelling assistant for Appleby, said Wednesday morning’s tactics were by design.
“The plan was to make him work a little bit harder and push to the line to really get that strong piece of work,” Chretien said. “I’m very happy with the horse. He’s progressing very well. It’s ten days before the race, so this was the big work for him, and he’s going forward. They are moving well on the surface and they’ve been eating great.”
A son of Dubawi, Rebel’s Romance is a four-time winner of five career starts with his lone defeat taking place when fourth in the Saudi Derby on February 29 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. The Irish homebred is out of the Street Cry mare Minidress.
Chretien expressed confidence in the horse’s distance capabilities given his pedigree and his appearance.
“He’s a big-framed horse and a big galloper, so distance will help him,” Chretien said.
Desert Peace, a son of Curlin out of the stakes-winning Flatter mare Stoweshoe – a full sister to Grade 1-winner Taris, will arrive at the True North off a victory at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
“I was very pleased with him; he’s been very consistent. He’s very focused,” Chretien said.
Chretien said she is hoping for a fast track next Saturday.
“I’m hoping we don’t get too much rain,” Chretien said. “I’ve been looking at the forecast and we might get some rain through the weekend, but after that it should dry by the time we get to the Belmont. I’m not hoping for a sloppy track or anything like that.”
Appleby has conquered some of the largest races on a global scale owning three Breeders’ Cup victories [Outstrip (2013 Juvenile Turf); Wuheida (2017 Filly and Mare Turf) and Line of Duty (2018 Juvenile Turf)], as well as an Epsom Derby with Masar and a Melbourne Cup win with Cross Counter, both in 2018. The British conditioner will be racing against history as he seeks his first American classic victory, as no foreign-based horse has won the Belmont Stakes since Go And Go conquered the 1990 ‘Test of the Champion’ for Dermot Weld.
“It’s something that’s been in the back of his mind and I think Rebel is the horse that could bring it to us,” Chretien said. “Of course, it’s great to have won big races all over the world, like the Melbourne Cup, and having much success in Europe and the Breeders’ Cup here in the United States. To win a race like the Belmont would mean a lot.”
In addition to Rebel’s Romance and Desert Peace, Appleby will also send out Althiqa and Summer Romance for the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game on June 5 going one mile for fillies and mares.
Althiqa, a gray or roan daughter of Dark Angel, has never finished off the board in nine lifetime starts and won the Group 2 Cape Verdi at the Just a Game distance before finishing third in the Group 2 Balanchine, both races were at Meydan Racecourse.
A winner of the Balanchine last out, Summer Romance bested her stable mate in the nine-furlong test, which she won by 2 ¼ lengths. Last July, the daughter of Kingman won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth at Epsom.
Chretien said that both fillies will have their final work on Saturday morning during the designated time window for turf workers.
“They galloped on the grass the other day,” Chretien said. “They’re training well and happy. They’ll have another piece of work next Saturday and hopefully everything keeps going that way.”
Rombauer to work Friday morning with John Velazquez up
Trainer Michael McCarthy said Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer is settling in well at Belmont Park, where he has been stabled since last Monday after capturing the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
Owned and bred by John Fradkin and Diane Fradkin, Rombauer scored a breakthrough triumph in the Preakness, which he won by 3 ½ lengths while garnering a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He looks very well. He appears to be enjoying his time in New York,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Rombauer is scheduled to work on Friday morning over the Belmont main track, weather permitting, with Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez up. A two-time Belmont Stakes winning jockey, Velazquez is scheduled to pilot Rombauer in the upcoming ‘Test of the Champion’.
McCarthy also reported that graded stakes winner Rushie will not make the trip to New York for the Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap and will remain at McCarthy’s stable at Santa Anita.
G1-winner Vequist to return to action late summer; Half-sister to Vequist nominated to Astoria
Trainer Butch Reid, Jr. said Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stable’s reigning champion 2-Year-Old Filly Vequist is aiming towards a late summer/fall campaign that may include a start at Saratoga.
Reid said the main target for Vequist is the Grade 1, $1 million Cotillion, a 1 1/16-mile test for sophomore fillies on September 25 at Parx.
“She’s been training lightly down at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and she’ll be coming back to my barn at Parx in the next 10 days,” said Reid, Jr. “We’re looking forward to a fall campaign with her and have our eye on the Cotillion. I could see us possibly getting her a start at the end of Saratoga. We’re excited to get her back in action”
A dark bay daughter of Nyquist out of the Mineshaft mare Vero Amore, Vequist graduated at second asking with a 9 1/2-length romp in the Grade 1 Spinaway in September at Saratoga. The talented filly followed with a second to Dayoutoftheoffice in the Grade 1 Frizette in October at Belmont before turning the tables on that foe with a two-length score in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Keeneland.
Vequist has been on the shelf since finishing ninth in her seasonal debut in the Grade 2 Davona Dale in February at Gulfstream Park.
Reid, Jr has nominated a pair of unraced fillies owned by LC Racing to the $150,000 Astoria, a 5 ½-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies on Thursday, June 3, including Disco Ebo and Mainstay, who is a half-sister to Vequist.
“One of them will definitely come, but I’m not sure which one just yet,” said Reid, Jr. “They’ve put up a maiden race here [at Parx] and I’m thinking one will go in there. It’s tough to ship and start in a stakes race first time out, but sometimes you have to take a chance.”
Reid said Mainstay, by Astern, is stockier than Vequist.
“She’s a different horse than Vequist. She’s a little shorter and a little more stout,” said Reid, Jr. “She has more of a sprinter type body where Vequist was long and languid and has a big, giant stride on her. This filly is a little more compact and speedier. She has a good turn of foot and I think she’s a top-quality filly. We’ll have some fun with her.”
Maintstay, bred in Kentucky by Swilcan Stables, breezed in company with Disco Ebo through their first three timed works at Parx before Reid Jr. said he was forced to separate them.
“They were very competitive and it was a really good match,” said Reid, Jr. “They went through their early paces together and then I was trying to get them to slow down a little bit, so I separated them for their last couple of breezes. We’re very fortunate with this group. We’re excited about our 2-year-olds this year.”
In her two works since being separated from Disco Ebo, Mainstay posted a bullet half-mile in 47.03 on May 15 at Parx and followed up with a sharp five-eighths from the gate in 1:00.02 on May 22 on the same track.
Disco Ebo, by Weigelia, is out of the Disco Rico mare Katarica Disco, who has produced eight winning foals to race, including stakes winners Fat Kat and Smooth B, who are full siblings to Disco Ebo.
Also among the talented family are Disco Rose, third in the 2015 Grade 2 Demoiselle at the Big A, who posted a record of 36-4-9-4 with purse earnings of $449,280; and the stakes-placed Pink Princess, who boasted a ledger of 66-16-19-7 with purse earnings of $572,135.
“There’s four of them that made over $400,000 that are full brothers and sisters to her and I’ve had them all,” said Reid Jr. “Disco Rose was graded stakes placed in New York and made over $400,00 and Pink Princess made over a half-million. It’s been a good family for us and we’ve taken nearly $2 million out of that mare. She’s been very good to us and this one looks like she’ll fit into that line as well.”
Disco Ebo, bred in Pennsylvania by St. Omer’s Farm, worked a half-mile in 47.01 from the gate on May 19 at Parx and followed with another half-mile in 48.93 on May 26.
Reid Jr. said he will likely enter Susan C. Quack and Christopher J. Feifarek’s Beren in Sunday’s $100,000 Paradise Creek, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores on the Widener turf.
The Pennsylvania homebred captured the six-furlong Gold Fever last out on May 9 at Belmont. By Weigelia, Beren is out of the multiple graded stakes winning Diamond mare Silmaril.
On June 17, 2006, Weigelia set a then Belmont inner turf course record for six furlongs of 1:07.04 in an allowance optional-claiming event.
“Beren is doing very well and we’re thinking about entering him in the Paradise Creek,” said Reid, Jr. “His father held the track record at six furlongs on the turf for a while, so we may come up this weekend and try him on the turf. If it rained off, that wouldn’t hurt either.
“Both the father and mother turf,” added Reid, Jr. “The mother is out of a Diamond stallion and he gets nothing but turf horses. We have to try him on it before the summer is over, so we may as well try it now.”
Victim of Love to breeze Friday for G3 Bed O’ Roses
Trainer Todd Beattie said multiple graded stakes winner Victim of Love will breeze Friday at Penn National in preparation for the Grade 3, $300,000 Bed O’ Roses, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares on June 4 during the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
“She’s doing really well,” said Beattie. “She’ll have a workout later this week and that will be the final determination, but that’s the way we’re leaning. She’ll go five eighths on Friday.”
Tommy Town Thoroughbreds’ Victim of Love edged clear to a 2 1/4-length score last out to successfully defend her title in the Grade 3, $150,000 Vagrancy Handicap, a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares.
The 5-year-old Speightstown mare, piloted by Joel Rosario, successfully defended her title by stalking the early speed of Sadie Lady before taking command at the stretch call.
“She has tactical speed and Joel realized the pace was going slow,” said Beattie. “I thought he moved what might have been a little early for her, but it wasn’t [too early] because of the slow pace. They got the jump on things and boy is she tough to run down. She lays it on the line.”
Boasting a record of 18-6-3-3 with purse earnings of $408,199, Victim of Love has demonstrated remarkable consistency in the female sprinter division. The well-bred 5-year-old is out of the graded-stakes winning Awesome Again mare Spacy Tracy and is a full-sister to graded stakes winner Benner Island and multiple stakes-winner High North.***Dealing Justice may target $150K Jersey Girl
After a victory against winners going six furlongs at Churchill Downs, Zilla Racing Stables and Perrine Time Thoroughbreds’ Dealing Justice will likely make her next appearance in the $150,000 Jersey Girl, a six-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies on June 6 at Belmont Park.
The daughter of Commissioner displayed frontrunning tactics for the first time in five starts last out for trainer Ray Handal, leading at every point of call en route to a 3 ¾-length winner at odds of 13-1.
A winner at second asking on January 10 at Aqueduct, Dealing Justice finished last of three in her lone stakes engagement in the February 8 Ruthless at the Big A, where she finished behind Miss Brazil and stakes-winner Gulf Coast.
“She looks like she’s pretty talented. She’s a young filly that’s continued to get better,” Handal said. “She certainly has a lot of raw speed. We may test the waters again. It just wasn’t her day when we ran her in the Ruthless, albeit she ran against two beasts in there and they turned her away. Something like the Jersey Girl could be in the works.”
Bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey, Dealing Justice was purchased for $80,000 out of the 2020 Fasig-Tipton Mid-Atlantic Sale. She is out of the Smart Strike mare Clever Run, whose dam was graded stakes winner Charmousse and is a direct descendant of the prestigious broodmare La Troienne.