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BELMONT AT THE BIG A NOTES

Edited NYRA Staff Notes – Repole Stable’s Kentucky homebred Fierceness, the reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, worked a half-mile in 51 seconds flat Friday over the Oklahoma dirt training track at Saratoga Race Course in preparation for a start in the Grade 1, $1 million NYRA Bets Haskell traveling nine furlongs on July 20, at Monmouth Park.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, the City of Light bay worked in company with graded stakes-winning turf mare Surprisingly. Also notable on the Oklahoma dirt training track work tab Friday was Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables recent Grade 2 Suburban-winner Crupi, who covered a half-mile in 52.85 in company with multiple graded stakes-placed turfer Talk of the Nation.

“Both works were probably better than the times suggest – finished up well and galloped out strongly,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher said that both Fierceness and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets runner-up Mindframe are likely to start in the NYRA Bets Haskell.

“I’ll talk to Mike [Repole] but right now we’re pointing Fierceness and Mindframe towards the Haskell,” Pletcher said.

Fierceness was a 6 1/4-length winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Santa Anita Park to cap his Championship campaign. He returned to action with a pair of starts at Gulfstream Park, finishing a troubled third in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February before romping to a 13 1/2-length score in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30.

The talented bay went to post as the mutuel favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs where he finished 15th. Fierceness trained towards the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 8 at Saratoga Race Course, but Pletcher ultimately decided the colt needed more time.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Mindframe was an impressive winner of his first two starts, graduating by 13 3/4-lengths on debut in March at Gulfstream Park and following with a 7 1/2-length romp on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

The Constitution colt made the lead at the stretch call of the 10-furlong Belmont Stakes at Saratoga but was green in the lane and missed by a half-length to a resurgent and more experienced Dornoch.

Pletcher said Mindframe has exited the Belmont Stakes in good order.

“He’s been galloping well this week. He looks good and his overall condition is excellent coming out of the race. We’ll look for a breeze next weekend,” Pletcher said.

Pletcher won Monmouth’s local prep for the NYRA Bets Haskell last weekend with Spendthrift Farm’s Tuscan Sky, who captured the 1 1/16-mile NYRA Bets Pegasus by 6 3/4-lengths over Domestic Product. The top-two Pegasus finishers received free entry and start fees for the Haskell.

Pletcher noted that Centennial Farms’ Antiquarian, who ran fifth in the Belmont Stakes, is enjoying a freshening, and further said that he will re-group with Repole Stable’s Belmont Stakes sixth-place finisher Protective and target a maiden event at the Spa.

Pletcher indicated that Crupi is pointing to the 11-furlong Grade 2, $200,000 Brooklyn Invitational on July 5 at Belmont at the Big A, which could serve as a bridge to the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3 at Saratoga. The nine-furlong Whitney for older horses offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar.

If Crupi makes the Whitney, he is likely to meet his dual graded stakes-winning stablemate Bright Future, who returned from a seven-month layoff to capture the Grade 3 Salvator Mile last weekend at Monmouth Park.

Owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, Bright Future won 3-of-6 starts last year led by a nose score over Proxy in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga. He closed to finish sixth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita.

With Hall of Famer Javier Castellano up in the Salvator Mile, the 5-year-old Curlin chestnut was shuffled back along the rail in the final turn but regained his momentum with a powerful inside run to score by 1 3/4-lengths.

“He got to spinning his wheels a little bit on the far turn and retreated a couple spots,” Pletcher said. “Once he was able to get straightened away and things opened up on the inside, he re-rallied and finished strongly. He just lost focus for a little bit on the far turn.

“We were encouraged the way he had been training leading up to it, but it’s always great to see them come back and perform well,” Pletcher added. “Hopefully, it’s the start of a good summer and fall campaign for him.”

Repole Stable’s New York-homebred Carmen’s Candy Jar, who debuts in the Sunday opener at Belmont at the Big A, is named in honor of Carmen M. Barrera, NYRA’s longtime director of horsemen’s relations who passed unexpectedly in 2019. The promising filly is listed at 9-5 on the morning line with Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride in the five-furlong main track sprint for state-bred 2-year-old fillies.

Barrera’s infamous candy jar was always stocked with peanut M & M’s – a tradition maintained by NYRA’s Horsemen’s Relations supervisor Alysse Jacobs.

“Carmen was terrific to me and Mike and really all the horsemen and owners. She’s greatly missed. She was a good friend to all of us,” Pletcher said.

Carmen’s uncle Laz Barrera campaigned Affirmed to the 1978 Triple Crown. Her father, Luis, was a trainer as well, campaigning Summing to victory in the 1981 Belmont Stakes. Her cousin, Juan Dominguez, is NYRA’s Sr. Director of Safety and Racing Operations.

“Anyone who knew Carmen, knew how special she was. She was NY tough but extremely sweet and had a huge heart,” Repole said on the social media platform X. “She always took care of me and so many horsemen. She was [a] dear friend to me and many others.”

Repole’s X posting included a photo of Barrera celebrating the Repole-campaigned Stay Thirsty capturing the 2011 Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga.

“For me, the most meaningful and special picture of her was when Stay Thirsty won the Travers, she turned around to my box at Saratoga cheering and celebrating for me even before Stay Thirsty crossed the wire,” wrote Repole. “Carmen is very loved and dearly missed. Continue to Rest in Peace Carmen.”

Carmen’s Candy Jar has trained steadily over the Oklahoma dirt training track for her debut, including a half-mile breeze in 49.95 seconds on June 17.

“She’s not a real big filly, but she’s always trained very forwardly and seems to have her mind on business. Hopefully, she will make a solid debut,” Pletcher said.

Carmen’s Candy Jar, by Vino Rosso, is the first foal out of the unraced Uncle Mo mare No Mo Shopping, who is a half-sister to dual graded stakes-winner Always Shopping and a full sister to graded stakes-placed Mo Shopping. Her second dam is multiple graded stakes-placed Stopshoppingmaria.

***

The Big Torpedo to continue on NYSSS trail; Impressive maiden winner Donegal Momentum returns Thursday

Thomas Albrecht, Vincent Fusaro, and James Klein’s New York-bred sophomore The Big Torpedo was an impressive victor of Sunday’s Spectacular Bid Division of the New York Stallion Stakes Series, a six-furlong outer turf sprint for eligible state-sired sophomores, at Belmont at the Big A.

Trained by Tom Morley, the Big Brown chestnut traveled a stalking trip in behind the early pacesetters under regular pilot Eric Cancel, before firing along the rail in the stretch to a 3 1/2-length victory in a final time of 1:08.83.

In victory, The Big Torpedo notched his first stakes score, after previously finishing a close second in the one-mile turf Woodhaven against open-company here on April 27. He will be pointed towards a stretch back out to one-mile on turf in the $150,000 NYSSS Cab Calloway on July 18 at Saratoga Race Course.

“These Stallion Series races for straight 3-year-olds do not come around very often. At the end of the day, he was second in a stake against open-company in the Woodhaven,” said Morley. “Off that effort, I think he would be a very short-priced favorite in the Cab Calloway.”

The Spectacular Bid performance earned a career-best 88 Beyer Speed Figure. Aside from a distant finish in the state-bred Gander here going a one-turn mile on the main track in February, The Big Torpedo has received increasing Beyers in each start. His other stakes attempt came as a maiden in December in the seven-furlong dirt NYSSS Great White Way, where he crossed the wire fourth but was elevated to third.

Morley confirmed The Big Torpedo exited his recent effort in good order.

“He came out of it great. It was a hot day, but the cut back to six furlongs probably meant that it was just a bit easier on him than some of the two-turn races he has been running in,” said Morley. “He is a very straight-forward horse with a great appetite, so he seems to be in very good shape.”

Donegal Racing’s promising debut-winner Donegal Momentum has been entered for a second career start in Race 2 on Thursday, a one-mile allowance at Belmont at the Big A. There, the sophomore Uncle Mo colt will face elders in a compact six-horse field, set to break from post 1 in rein to Hall of Famer Javier Castellano.

Donegal Momentum won his lone start by 8 3/4 lengths in a local six-furlong maiden special weight on May 16, awarded an impressive 92 Beyer Speed Figure over the muddy and sealed footing in a final time of 1:10.30.

“He had to face elders on debut, at this point of the year, we don’t have the option of running against straight 3-year-olds,” said Morley. “There are some nice allowance types in there, so he is going to have to take a step forward, but hopefully he is ready to do that.”

Morley said Donegal Momentum’s pedigree indicates he may appreciate added distance.

“He’s by Uncle Mo, out of a Malibu Moon mare, he’s meant to go farther,” said Morley. “He is another colt with a lovely appetite and demeanor around the barn. We are excited to see him make a second start.”

Donegal Momentum has completed three works over the Belmont Park dirt training track since his debut graduation, including most recently a five-eighths breeze on June 20 in 1:01.36.

“Certainly, his works indicate that a mile should be no problem to him at all,” said Morley, regarding the stretch-out to a one-turn mile.

Out of the stakes-placed Malibu Moon mare Moon Dash, Donegal Momentum was a $375,000 purchase at the 2022 Keeneland September Yearling Sale by Donegal Racing, who has been a part of many Grade 1-winning campaigns including Mo Donegal, Keen Ice, and Finnegans Wake.

***

Warming registers 71 BSF in sharp maiden score; Motion contemplating G3 Manila or G1 Belmont Derby for Trikari

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Warming made an auspicious debut Friday at Belmont at the Big A, overcoming the outermost post 9 to score a 2 1/4-length victory in a six-furlong outer turf sprint for juvenile fillies.

Trained by Graham Motion and piloted by Manny Franco, the chestnut daughter of freshman sire Global Campaign was guided to the rail where she saved all the ground before tipping out three-wide for the stretch run and edging away to a comfortable score in a final time of 1:09.78. The winning effort garnered a 71 Beyer Speed Figure.

Motion said the $100,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase has been professional since sent to his care by Aron Wellman of Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.

“That’s how she’s been ever since she came to us. Aron sent her to me after the 2-year-old sale and she really hasn’t put a foot wrong. She’s almost been like a 3-year-old to us the way she’s handled everything,” Motion said.

Motion noted that the opportunity to run six furlongs on turf was a key factor in selecting a debut spot for Warming.

“She actually handles the dirt in the morning, but I think it’s easier for these horses to start on the grass,” Motion said. “They don’t get the kickback in their face if they don’t break sharp – she didn’t break super sharp yesterday, but she was able to get over it. I think it’s harder to do that on the dirt.”

Motion said he has yet to decide a next spot for Warming, but the $150,000 P.G. Johnson at 1 1/16-miles on turf on August 28 at the Spa is a possible target.

“That would be a nice race to think about for sure,” Motion said. “I wouldn’t be afraid to run her three-quarters again. I don’t think I’d shorten her up. Aqueduct is one of the few tracks where you can go three-quarters on the grass.”

Warming, out of the Unusual Heat mare Haute Style, had trained forwardly in company with Sharedashenanigans, who debuts Saturday sprinting five furlongs on dirt at Laurel Park.

“I was a little torn with these two of which to run on the grass and which to run on the dirt, but Sharedashenanigans has handled the dirt and is a little quicker going five-eighths so I thought that would suit her at Laurel. I imagine she’ll also end up on the grass, but she’s handled the dirt well in the morning,” Motion said.

Motion will try to repeat the maiden-breaking feat in Race 4 on Sunday here with Harrell Ventures and Starlight Racing’s Academy, who is on the also-eligible list with Franco named in a six-furlong outer turf sprint for juveniles.

The Oscar Performance chestnut, a $310,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase, has worked steadily over the Fair Hill dirt led by a bullet half-mile gate breeze in 48.40 on June 7.

“I’m a fan of Oscar Performance. I’ve liked all the Oscars I’ve had,” Motion said. “Again, I really like the six-furlongs on the grass and he’s another horse that I think five-eighths will be a little bit quick for him. If he doesn’t get to run Sunday, I may just wait and stretch him out.”

Amerman Racing’s sophomore colt Trikari, a 47-1 upset winner of the Grade 2 American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs, is under consideration for local starts in either the nine-furlong Grade 3, $250,000 Manila on June 29 and the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6.

The Oscar Performance bay won the Rushaway over the Turfway Park synthetic in March ahead of his American Turf coup and he validated his effort last out with a close third in the Grade 3 Penn Mile on May 31 when a neck back of the victorious First World War.

Trikari exited the outermost post 9 in the Penn Mile and attended a rapid pace but could not stave off the late bid of First World War, who nosed out the stalking Aspenite in a desperate finish.

“He took the worst of it in every aspect of it. He had the worst draw, the worst trip – he got taken on early,” Motion said. “All things considered, I thought he ran very well and felt bad for him getting beat.

“I’m really torn with what to do with him,” Motion continued. “We have the Manila next weekend and the Belmont Derby which is tempting – but I’m on the fence with what to do with him. He’s training super and he’s a nice horse, but I’m conscious of coming back in four weeks again which may be asking a lot.”

Motion trained Trikari’s mare Dynamic Holiday, who won the 2011 Grade 3 Herecomesthebride going nine furlongs at Gulfstream Park.

“I don’t know that he’s going to stretch out. The dam certainly handled it – Oscar Performance is more of a miler – I really don’t know if that’s what he wants to do. He’s quite quick,” Motion said. “It would be good to know if he can go further, but there’s also a lot of good races going a mile.”

The $27,500 purchase at the 2022 OBS October Yearling Sale has banked $584,130 through a 6-3-1-1 record.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and The Estate of Albert Frassetto’s The Grey Wizard swept from well off the pace to land his first graded stakes victory last out in the two-mile Grade 2 Belmont Gold Cup on June 6 at Saratoga Race Course.

The winning effort, which garnered a career-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure, also earned a “Golden Ticket” for an automatic berth into the Group 1, AUD$8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup on November 5 at Flemington Racecourse in Victoria, Australia.

“It’s very tempting and the horse has come out of the race very well,” Motion said. “It’s definitely something we’re going to think about. It’s not an easy trip.”

Motion said the long-running fellow could next try the $500,000 Nashville Gold Cup at 2 1/16 miles set for September 11 at Kentucky Downs.

RyZan Sun Racing and Madaket Stables’ multiple graded stakes-winning Ontario-bred Mission of Joy landed a solid third at odds of 13-1 last out in the one-mile Grade 1 Just a Game on June 7 at Saratoga. The 4-year-old Kitten’s Joy chestnut closed from off the pace to finish a half-length back of the victorious Chili Flag.

“I was really pleased with her. She also came out of the race well. She’s Grade 1-placed twice now,” Motion said.

Motion said Mission of Joy could stretch out for the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 13 at the Spa. The veteran conditioner has saddled 14 horses in the Grade 1 Diana over the years finishing second on six occasions, including with Mean Mary [neck, 2020], Ultra Brat [nose, 2018], Quidura [head, 2017], Aruna [1 1/2-lengths, 2011], Shared Account [head, 2010], and Sweet Talker [head, 2006].

“The Diana is going to be very tempting,” Motion said. “The Diana is a tricky race for me. We’ve been second beaten a nose or a head four or five times in that race over the years. It’s a race I’ve always wanted to win, but we’ve had some brutal beats.”

Mission of Joy captured the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Florida Oaks last year at Tampa Bay Downs and added Churchill Downs’ nine-furlong Grade 3 Regret to her ledger two starts later. She was a close third in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup in October at Keeneland to close out her sophomore season.

Bred in Ontario by Sam-Son Farm, Mission of Joy is out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Mission whose half-sister Irish Mission was a dual Sovereign Award winner in Canada.

Augustin Stable and Catherine Parke’s dual graded stakes-winner Sparkle Blue finished a distant ninth last out in the Grade 1 New York traveling 1 3/16-miles at the Spa.

“We were reaching a little bit in a Grade 1 with her, and that race came up as tough as any Grade 1 this year – it could have been a Breeders’ Cup race,” Motion said. “I think we’ll set our sights a little lower next time – she’s a very honest and consistent filly.”

The 5-year-old Hard Spun mare has banked $897,988 through a 17-6-3-3 record.

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