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ELMONT, NY – In his final piece of preparation for Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1), France Go de Ina breezed 5 furlongs over a fast main track at Belmont Park.
Under mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, Yuji Inaida’s son of third-crop sire Will Take Charge took to the track under exercise rider Masaki Takano at 7:30 AM and registered his final move for the ‘Test of the Champion’ while running off 1/8-mile splits of 13.12, 25.78, and 49.23 before completing his breeze in 1:02.62.
Trainer Hideyuki Mori was on site to watch his 2-time winner train for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
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France Go de Ina, who was seventh last out in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course, shipped to Belmont Park 2 days following the second American Classic and has been getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“He moved really well. We were really happy with the work this morning,” Mori said through translator Kate Hunter. “The extra time between this race and shipping in from Japan gives him time to build his body up some more and add condition.”
France Go de Ina will be the first Belmont Stakes starter for Mori, whose first contender in an American Classic dates back to 1995 when Ski Captain finished 14th to Thunder Gulch in the Kentucky Derby.
“I would be very happy to add a Triple Crown race to my portfolio,” Mori said.
Ricardo Santana Jr. will pilot France Go de Ina from post 5.
Essential Quality Draws Post 2, Named 2/1 Morning Line Favorite for Belmont Stakes
Godolphin’s Essential Quality, the 2/1 morning line favorite for the Belmont Stakes and reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Male, visited the Belmont main track for the first time at 5:30 AM.
Trainer Brad Cox said the 4-time graded stakes winner appeared to move well over Big Sandy.
“He stood for a minute and then jogged off the right way and galloped about a mile and 3/8, and he seemed to get over the ground really well,” said Cox. “My assistant, Dustin Dugas, was on him. It went very smooth. Dustin came back and said he’s a very smooth-going horse and intelligent. That’s what you want to hear from the guy on his back.”
Cox said Essential Quality, who will exit post 2 under Luis Saez on Saturday, will visit the starting gate on Thursday ahead of his regular gallop.
Preakness Winner Rombauer Arrives at Belmont Park
John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer continued preparations for the Belmont Stakes when galloping 1 1/2 miles over the main track after the break at 8:45 AM.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, the Preakness Stakes (G1) winner, will break from post 3 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Belmont.
The son of Twirling Candy shipped to Belmont Park the Monday following his Preakness triumph and has been stabled with trainer Jonathan Thomas.
“He’s been here for nearly 3 weeks, so nothing is new to him at this point. He’s been settling in nicely,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy, a former assistant to newly-minted Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, expressed his appreciation for his time spent under the veteran conditioner.
“If I don’t put the time in there with him, maybe I don’t get to do this,” said McCarthy. “He’s got an incredible amount of responsibility and has a lot going on. It’s nice to follow what they do, even though I’m not there. I always pay attention to what’s going on (with Pletcher’s team).”
Hot Rod Charlie Wires Louisiana Derby
Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing, and Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Hot Rod Charlie, trained by Doug O’Neill, also visited the main track after the break under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.
“He got out there and he jogged about 5/8 and galloped a mile and 1/4,” said O’Neill. “It was very similar to what we do back home, but the mile and 1/2 circumference here makes it a little different.”
Hot Rod Charlie, a front-running winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2), quickened down the lane.
“Jonny is so good. Once he gets him in that comfortable leg stretch, he doesn’t move his hands or ask him for more or try and slow him down,” said O’Neill. “He just lets him be comfortable out there, especially the last part of the gallop. He looked great and did it easy. One day at a time, but so far so good.”
Flavien Prat will pilot Hot Rod Charlie from post 4.
Rock Your World Rocks the Trail with Santa Anita Derby Victory
Hronis Racing and David Michael Talla’s Rock Your World, winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in April, visited the main track near 7 AM.
“He went for a routine gallop, about a mile and 1/4. He did it just easy,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to trainer John Sadler. “He’s doing well. He’s happy. He comes off the track with good energy.”
Rock Your World finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby after a troubled start, but Leyva said the colt is thriving heading into Saturday’s test. The Candy Ride bay posted a bullet 58.40-second 5-furlong breeze on May 28 at Santa Anita.
“If you saw his work last week, the gallop out was super impressive. He went 1:40 for the mile and he did it all on his own,” said Leyva, a former jockey who guided Musical Romance to victory in the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1). “He’s a big, lanky colt. I don’t think the distance will be a problem for him at all.”
Rock Your World will exit post 7 under Joel Rosario.
Known Agenda, Bourbonic, Overtook Breeze in Preparation for Belmont Stakes
Pletcher sent his trio of Belmont Stakes contenders – Known Agenda, Bourbonic, and Overtook – to the main track at 6 AM to gallop 1 1/2 miles. The veteran conditioner said all are in good order.
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