ELMONT, N.Y. – Essafinaat’s Mubtaahij is back training at Belmont as the Grade 1 Woodward runner-up prepares for his next start in the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup Invitational on October 8 in the second of two “Super Saturdays” as part of the Belmont Fall Meet, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Friday.
McLaughlin noted that Watershed, third in the Grade 3 Philip H. Iselin on August 27 at Monmouth Park, is also under heavy consideration for the Gold Cup, which carries an automatic entry to the Breeders’ Cup Classic to the winner.
“It’s a step up for him, he was third at Monmouth but we think he’s that type so we’re going to try him,” he said.
Tamarkuz is being pointed towards the Grade 2, $350,000 Kelso Handicap. The Grade 1 Priority One Jets Forego runner-up will again have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, who piloted the Shadwell Stables’ 6-year-old to his best finish in a graded stakes start when he finished 2 ¼-lengths ahead of third-place Stallwalkin’ Dude last out.
At one mile on the main track, the Kelso represents a chance for Tamarkuz to register his first victory in the United States. He finished fourth in the 2015 edition of the Kelso.
“A mile is his best distance, so we’re happy Mike Smith is coming in to ride,” McLaughlin said. “He ran super in the Forego and we think he’s going to be tough in this one.”
Staring her summer with an allowance victory at Saratoga before finishing third in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa, 4-year-old Sentiero Italia will next point to the Grade 1 $500,000 Flower Bowl, reported McLaughlin.
The 4-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly breezed four furlongs over the Tapeta footing at Greentree Training Center in Saratoga Friday morning, covering the distance in 48.60 seconds.
“She came out of the Ballston Spa well and she ran a big race,” said McLaughlin. “Turning for home in the late stretch she hooked up with Lady Eli and held her own before Mark [Hennig’s] filly [Strike Charmer] passed us but it was an encouraging effort. We’ll look for her to move forward off of it; hopefully she’ll perform well.”
Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap and Whitney hero Frosted is unlikely to have a race this fall and instead run fresh in the Breeders’ Cup on November 4-5, McLaughlin said.
Possessing all-fees-paid berths into both the Breeders’ Cup Mile and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the Tapit colt would have a nine-week break following his third-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 3 before the year-end championships at Santa Anita.
“I just got back from Kentucky and I spoke to [Godolphin Racing’s] John Ferguson and Jimmy Bell and Frosted will most likely wait until the Breeders’ Cup but it’s not completely confirmed,” he said. “And whether it’s the Mile or the Classic, we still haven’t decided.”
On Leave ready to roll in G2 Sands Point
On Leave is primed and ready to carry the family torch into the winner’s circle on Saturday as she vies for victory in her graded stakes debut in the Grade 2, $500,000 Sands Point at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf at Belmont Park.
A homebred filly by Stuart Janney III, the 3-year-old filly by War Front is out of Meghan’s Joy, who, to date, has already produced four graded stakes winners including 2015 Grade 2 Bernard Baruch winner and 2016 Grade 1 Manhattan runner-up Ironicus.
On Leave is undefeated in three starts this year for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, first posting a two-length maiden-breaking win in June and returning with a victory against optional claimers the following month.
The gray filly delivered as the 9-5 favorite in her stakes debut in the Riskaverse at Saratoga, where, despite encountering early trouble, she went on to draw clear by 2 ½ lengths under Jose Ortiz on August 25.
“She overcame a bad start and had some problems going into the first turn but Jose said when he got clear at the three-eighths pole, he knew he was sitting on a winner,” said McGaughey of the Riskaverse. “She’s done well off of that race. When I ran her, I didn’t know if I was going to run her back yet but she came out of it good and she’s trained good.
“Everything with her has been a progression and tomorrow’s another progression, so we’ll see what she does there,” he added. “We’re going to go a little further, which shouldn’t be a problem, but we’ll learn a little more about her.”
Meanwhile, her big brother, the 5-year-old Ironicus, continues to gear up for a return to the races following his runner-up finish to turf star Flintshire in Manhattan on June 11, recording his first local work last Sunday, a half-mile move on the main track in 48.25 seconds.
“He’s doing great,” said McGaughey. “Since I’ve started working him back, he’s been really, really good. He worked last weekend really well and he’ll work again this weekend. We’ll point him at the Shadwell Mile [on October 8] at Keeneland and hopefully we’ll make it.”
Oscar Performance readies for stakes debut in G3 Pilgrim
Oscar Performance is expected to make his stakes debut in the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim for 2-year-olds on October 1, trainer Brian Lynch said on Friday morning. The Amerman Racing homebred broke his maiden August 20 at Saratoga Race Course, winning by 10 ¼ lengths over 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf.
The Kitten’s Joy bay colt will look to find success at the same distance in the Pilgrim in his Belmont Park debut. Oscar Performance went four furlongs in 51.66 seconds on turf Sunday in his first breeze at Belmont and is expected to work again this weekend.
“We just gave him an easy work and let him stretch his legs here,” Lynch said. “We’re looking forward to the next works where we’ll just tighten the screws. He seems like he’s matured and it’s always exciting when you have young talent in the barn taking you forward.”
Bureau de Change is on point for the Grade 3, $200,000 Noble Damsel on September 24. The 5-year-old bay mare will be making her sixth straight graded stakes start in seeking her first stakes victory.
“She’s a hard-knocking filly, so we’re going to give her a try,” Lynch said. “I feel like she’s a Grade 3-type of filly and on a good day, you can win one with her.”
A fellow Amerman Racing homebred, Bureau de Change breezed five furlongs in 1:02.55 on Belmont’s main track on Wednesday. Her best stakes performance was a third-place showing in the Grade 3 Eatontown on June 25 at Monmouth Park before finishing fourth last out in the Grade 3 WinStar Matchmaker on July 31.
“She’s in good order and we’re excited about it,” Lynch said.
Gyarmati gearing up with Super Saturday entrants
Earning her first stakes win in just her third career start in the P.G. Johnson stakes on September 1 at Saratoga, trainer Leah Gyarmati reported that juvenile filly Coasted will next point to the Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo on October 2.
Gyarmati has been impressed with the Tizway filly’s continued development for Treadway Racing Stable.
“She’s doing great and came out of that race good,” said Gyarmati. “She’s training away like she did before so we’re excited to see how she comes back and runs again against graded stakes competition.”
Wonder Gal, who returned off a nearly seven-month layoff to win an allowance race on September 2 will once again try graded stakes competition in the Grade 2, $300,000 Gallant Bloom on October 1, Gyarmati said.
A 4-year-old New York-bred daughter of Tiz Wonderful, Wonder Gal has notched two stakes victories against state-breds but has come up winless against graded company, where she boasts two seconds and four thirds from nine starts.
“She ran huge in her last race,” said Gyarmati. “That was really the race I wanted to come back in and it worked out well. Obviously, she’s held her own against New York-breds. Due to a series of issues and tough trips she hasn’t maintained that top level in graded stakes company and she’s run against some great fillies, so we’ll give a try one more time and see how it goes.”
Lastly, Gyarmati reported that 3-year-old Adventist, who was briefly on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year and finished seventh in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer Racetrack in August, is on pace to resume training after recovering from a lung infection the Any Given Saturday colt contracted over the summer.
“We’re not sure what we’re going to do with him yet, but he’s doing okay,” added Gyarmati. “He caught a little virus at the tail end of Saratoga and we’re just getting back to starting training him again.”