Belmont Stakes

Belmont Park Notes: Tapwrit Works to G1 Belmont, Patch Possible

Churchill Downs/Coady Photography

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Tapwrit and Patch, his two likely Belmont Stakes contenders, to the Belmont training track Saturday morning in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million “Test of the Champion” on June 10.

Tapwrit, winner of the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in March and sixth in the Kentucky Derby last time out, worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.25 shortly after 9:30 a.m. under his regular jockey Jose Ortiz. In company with 2015 Withers winner Far From Over, the pair galloped out in 1:16 2/5, according to NYRA clockers.

Earlier, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby runner-up Patch, a troubled 14th in the Kentucky Derby, hit the track shortly after 7:45 a.m. The son of Tapit, who became famous during the run-up to the “Run for the Roses” as a rare one-eyed contender, worked 4 furlongs in :50.24 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and in company with Outplay, a 3-year-old allowance winner.

“I thought Tapwrit worked well; he’s not an overzealous workhorse, but we got a good, solid 5/8s into him on what I’d describe as a relatively slow training track,” said Pletcher. “I thought it served its purpose, and he seemed to work as he normally does. (Patch) worked fine. Neither horse are ones that overachieve in the mornings, but they have that solid, grinding style that could suit the Belmont.

“Tapwrit, we’re definitely planning to run, and Patch, we’ll wait and see how he works next week,” he said.

Tapwrit kicked off his sophomore season with a second-place finish to McCracken in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs on February 11, where he returned four weeks later to post a 4 1/2-length victory in the Tampa Bay Derby. He ventured to Keeneland for his final Derby prep for the Grade 2 Blue Grass, where he missed the break and finished fifth. In the Derby, Tapwrit broke from post 16 and was bumped and pushed back at the break before finishing sixth.

“I thought Tapwrit ran great in the Derby,” said Pletcher. “Everyone talked about the trouble at the start for Classic Empire, but he (Tapwrit) was the one that got clobbered first, and it was a chain reaction from there. But I thought he closed pretty well and made a good account of himself. I think, with a cleaner start, he would’ve hit the board.”

Pletcher’s likely pair for the Grade 1, $1.2 million Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap, Rally Cry and Tommy Macho, each worked 5 furlongs on Saturday morning. Rally Cry, a 4-year-old colt by Uncle Mo, covered the distance in 1:01.66, while Tommy Macho went in 1:02.55. Sweet Loretta, on target for the Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn, worked a 1/2-mile in :49.49.

G3 Peter Pan runner-up Meantime breezes

Silverton Hill’s Grade 3 Peter Pan runner-up Meantime breezed Saturday morning for a possible run in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes for trainer Brian Lynch.

Meantime, a speedy colt by 2011 Preakness winner Shackleford, worked 5 furlongs in company with Basic Hero, a 4-year-old maiden. The pair worked together through the first 3/8, going :35 1/5, before Meantime pulled away from his workmate. He completed the work in :59.98 under jockey Mike Luzzi, then galloped out 6 furlongs in 1:13, according to NYRA clockers.

“I saw what I wanted to see; it was a nice, comfortable work,” Lynch said of the move. “Mike’s body language was very relaxed, he just looked like a passenger. He didn’t look like he had to ask him at any stage. I wanted to have someone following him a little bit so he can get used to getting put under a bit of pressure. Mike said he was totally relaxed in the work and did it totally in hand. He did it well within himself.”

While under consideration for the Belmont, Lynch noted that Meantime is also eligible for the $150,000 Easy Goer on the June 10 Belmont Stakes undercard. Meantime is scheduled to breeze again next Saturday, said Lynch, who added that, should Meantime run in the Belmont, Manny Franco is expected to have the mount.

“I’m not going to run in it just for the sake of running in it,” he said. “We’ve got the Easy Goer that day, too, so I want to be sure. His next work will really tell me. Up until then, I’m still on the fence.”

Lynch also breezed 2016 Sovereign Award Champion Sprinter Noholdingback Bear and Grade 2 Raven Run winner Lightstream 5 furlongs in company for their respective Belmont Stakes Racing Festival assignments.

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Noholdingback Bear, on target for the Grade 2, $250,000 True North, broke off ahead of Lightstream, aimed at the Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o’ Roses Invitational. The pair covered 3 furlongs in :35 3/5 before Lightstream drew ahead of her workmate to cover the distance in :59.77 under Javier Castellano.

Noholdingback Bear, who ran second to Stallwalkin’ Dude in the Diablo on May 7, his first start for Lynch, went in 1:00.12.

“He’s the ultimate professional, he doesn’t do more than he has to,” said Lynch. “I wanted to give Lightstream a target to run at because she’s kind of been a one-run, come-from-behind filly. Last time, the big picture was getting a race back into him, letting him show us that we’re on the right track with him. I think he’s come on a lot from that race, and I think he’ll probably put himself in the race a little earlier next time and not give himself as much work to do.”

A 4-year-old filly by Harlan’s Holiday, Lightstream won the 7-furlong Soaring Softly on the turf last year and followed up with a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Mother Goose at 1 1/16 miles on the dirt in her only two previous starts at Belmont. She made her first start of the year on a sloppy and sealed track in the Humana Distaff on the Kentucky Oaks undercard, finishing fifth.

“She really needed her last start,” said Lynch. “It was a tough group of really solid older mares, and she probably wasn’t 100% ready going in there, and she caught a nasty off track. I don’t think it suited her style; it was favoring speed horses that day, but she made a move and got tired the last part, but she came out of the race good. She had a really nice work the other day with Noholdingback Bear, and then today, I thought that was really good.

“She sat off him and made a nice move up to him, and Javier said he felt like he had plenty of horse under him and could’ve opened up on the gallop-out,” he added. “I think she’s back to showing one of her A-game races.”

True Timber aimed at Belmont, Dickinson returns in G1 Just a Game

Calumet Farm’s True Timber is expected to run in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Saturday morning.

Reached by phone, McLaughlin said that True Timber, who is currently stabled at Belmont Park, will be returning to graded stakes company after finishing third in the Sir Barton on May 20, Preakness Day, at Pimlico Race Course. True Timber was also considered for the Easy Goer before being pointed towards the “Test of the Champion.”

“We’re looking at the Belmont right now,” McLaughlin said. “It’s three weeks off the Sir Barton, but we’re OK with that. No one really knows about the mile-and-a-1/2, but we’ll find out on that day.”

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True Timber will be running on a NYRA track for the first time since a fourth-place effort in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 8 at Aqueduct. The son of Mineshaft’s best graded stakes finish was a runner-up effort in the Grade 3 Withers on February 4 at the Big A. McLaughlin said that he won’t put the Kentucky-bred through a vigorous work before the Belmont.

“He’ll just work a 1/2-mile a week out and we’ll go from there,” he said.

Shadwell Stable’s Mohaymen is expected to breeze on Sunday at Belmont Park in preparation for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day.

“He’ll work tomorrow, I’m planning on working him behind two horses, and we’ll see how it goes,” McLaughlin said.

Mohaymen is coming off of a fourth-place effort in the Grade 3 Westchester on May 6. That marked his 2017 debut after a 2016 campaign in which he won the Grade 2 Holy Bull and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby and the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.

“He’s doing well, he came out of his last race great,” McLaughlin said. “We were disappointed with the result, but he just needed to run, and we’re hoping he’s improved.”

Dickinson is training in Saratoga in preparation for the Grade 1, $700,000 Longines Just a Game, also slated for Belmont Stakes Day. The 5-year-old Medaglia d’Oro mare has been training “very well” at Greentree Training Center, according to McLaughlin, and will be looking for her fourth straight victory after capturing the Grade 3 Suwannee River, the Grade 2 Hillsborough, and the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley.

Overall, Dickinson has won five of her last six starts. McLaughlin said that she could ship to Belmont as soon as Wednesday.

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