ELMONT, N.Y. – Destin, who is being pointed to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 11, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.85 on the Belmont Park training track Friday morning in his penultimate work prior to the June 11 “Test of the Champion.”
Sixth in the Kentucky Derby last time out, Destin would be returning to the site of his maiden win last October in the 1 ½-mile Belmont.
“He had a good breeze with a solid gallop out and seems to be in good form,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner.
Destin is one of four early Belmont possibles currently at Belmont Park, along with his stablemate, fourth-place Preakness finisher Stradivari; Grade 2 Peter Pan runner-up Governor Malibu, and the Japanese horse Lani, fifth in the Preakness behind Exaggerator, who is scheduled to arrive in New York on Sunday.
Other possible starters for the Belmont include Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine and his stablemate Brody’s Cause, are currently at Churchill Downs and expected to arrive over the weekend; Suddenbreakingnews, scheduled to ship in Belmont week, and Creator, whose travel plans from Churchill have yet to be determined. Wild About Deb, third in the Peter Pan,is questionable.
In addition to two potential starters in the Belmont, Pletcher could have as many as four in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont Stakes Day, three of whom breezed Friday.
Anchor Down, who posted a 6 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Westchester on May 7, went a half-mile in 47.66 seconds, the fastest of 32 at the distance on the training track. Multiple graded stakes winner Blofeld, most recently fourth in the Oaklawn Handicap, went five furlongs in 1:01.63 while Grade 2 Charles Town Classic winner Stanford also went five furlongs, in 1:01.85.
Pletcher said Mshawish, who finished sixth last out in the Grade 1 Dubai World Cup, will breeze Saturday in preparation for the Met Mile.
Also on Friday, Pletcher sent Grade 1 Ogden Phipps contender Curalina out to breeze four furlongs in 49.55 in company with Rachel’s Valentina, who is being pointed either to the Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn on June 11 or the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose on July 2.
Pletcher added that Stopchargingmaria, who is possible for the Ogden Phipps, will breeze Saturday at Saratoga Race Course. On Friday at the Spa, Red Rifle, who finished sixth in his last start in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 7, went a half-mile in 50.28 in preparation for the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational on Belmont Stakes Day.
Governor Malibu continues preparations towards possible Belmont start
Christophe Clement trainee Governor Malibu, most recently second in the Grade 2 Peter Pan two weeks ago, worked five furlongs on the Belmont main track this morning in 1:01:15 towards a possible next start in the Belmont. Clement said he was impressed by the son of Malibu Moon’s effort.
New York Racing Association clockers caught Governor Malibu in splits of :23 4/5 and :48 1/5, galloping out in 1:14 2/5.
“It was a nice work. Joel Rosario was aboard and he looked well,” said Clement, who cautioned: “We are not sure at this point [as to his next start]. We are leaning toward the Belmont Stakes, but of course, nothing is certain.”
Governor Malibu will continue preparations towards the Belmont Stakes with a five-furlong breeze either next Friday or Saturday, said the trainer.
Kid Cruz on track for Brooklyn bid, Hot City Girl back in training
Grade 3 Excelsior winner Kid Cruz breezed over the Belmont Park training track Friday morning in preparation for his scheduled return in the Grade 2 Brooklyn Invitational.
Owned by Vina Del Mar Thoroughbreds and Black Swan Stable, the 5-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid worked six furlongs in 1:14.20, nearly matching his last official move on May 12, which was his first timed work since capturing the Excelsior by a half-length at Aqueduct Racetrack on April 9.
Trainer Linda Rice said the connections opted to pass on the $100,000 Flat Out on May 15, preferring instead to aim towards a fresh run in the 1 ½-mile Brooklyn.
“We skipped the prep because he’s run well with six to eight weeks between races and he’s won his last two stakes,” said Rice. “So we’re going in the Brooklyn and we’re hoping for the best.”
Lady Sheila Stable’s Grade 3 winner Hot City Girl resumed training Friday morning following the 4-year-old City Zip filly’s return to Rice’s barn earlier this week.
Hot City Girl, named New York’s champion 3-year-old filly this spring and a half-sister to Eclipse Award winner La Verdad, had gotten a 90-day turnout after finishing sixth in the Grade 2 Barbara Fritchie at Laurel Park in February, said Rice.
“She looks tremendous,” she said. “I had her here from July of her 2-year-old year until she turned four, so she got a well-earned vacation. We gave her 90 days and she looks fabulous. She’s gained a lot of weight, her hair and coat’s beautiful. I’m very excited about her.
“I think we’ll probably get a start in her before Saratoga,” added Rice. “I have a feeling she’ll get ready quickly, she really puts herself out there in the morning.”
Iris Smith Stable’s Seymourdini could make his next start against stakes competition, said Rice, citing both the seven-furlong Grade 2 Woody Stephens and the 1 1/16-mile Easy Goer on the Belmont Stakes undercard as possibilities for the speedy Bernardini sophomore.