ELMONT, N.Y. – Good Friends Stable’s Private Zone will look to make his 2016 debut a memorable one as the Brian Lynch-trained bay gelding headlines the Grade 2, $250,000 True North for 4-year-olds and up over six furlongs on the main track Friday as part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Private Zone finished fifth last out in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap in November at Aqueduct Racetrack in his first start with Lynch as his trainer. The 6-year-old had finished in the money in his previous nine starts, posting five victories in that stretch.
Private Zone, who will leave from post position 3 under jockey Martin Pedroza, breezed four furlongs in 46.02 seconds on Thursday at Belmont to pace a group of 55.
“He seems to be doing well and his works have been solid,” Lynch said. “He looks like he’s on top of his game. Friday will tell the story.”
Private Zone has won two of his last four graded stakes starts overall and is 5-3-2 in 11 career starts in six-furlong races.
“Our plan is to let him run,” Lynch said. “He comes into the race in good order.”
Trainer Jorge Navarro’s Catalina Red enters with wins in his last two starts and three victories in his last four. The 4-year-old chestnut colt won the Grade 2 Churchill Downs last out for his first career graded stakes victory and will leave from post position 5. Jockey Javier Castellano, who guided Catalina Red to the win in Kentucky, will again have the ride.
Trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle Holy Boss, who will leave from the inside post position with Ricardo Santana Jr. in the irons. Holy Boss has one career graded stakes win on his ledger in the Grade 2 Amsterdam and is coming off a fifth-place finish last month in the Churchill Downs.
Joking drew post position 2 for his graded stakes debut. The Charlton Baker-trained gelding won the listed Diablo in his previous start on May 8 at Belmont. Jockey Manuel Franco will have the mount.
Dads Caps, trained by Rudy Rodriguez, will leave from post position 4 with Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons. Vincent Scuderi’s bay horse has breezed three times at Belmont since his seventh-place finish in the Diablo, including a five-furlong work in 1:01.31 on Friday.
Always Sunshine drew the outside in the six-horse field. Trainer Edward Allen’s 4-year-old bay colt recorded a 2 1/2-length win in the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap last out for his first career graded stakes victory.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs June 9-11 and features 19 stakes races and nearly $10 million in purses, culminating with the 148th running of the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 11.