Greatest Honour breezes for G3 Westchester
by NYRA Press Office
Courtlandt Farms’ homebred Greatest Honour breezed a half-mile in 49.83 seconds over the Belmont Park main track Wednesday for Hall of fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
The move was the 4-year-old bay son of Tapit’s first work back from a distant third in the Grade 3 Ghostzapper on April 2 at Gulfstream Park. He will now target the Grade 3, $200,000 Westchester at a one-turn mile on May 7 at Belmont Park.
“I thought he worked very well. I plan on running him in the Westchester,” said McGaughey, who won the 2020 Westchester with Code of Honor.
An early favorite for last year's Kentucky Derby, Greatest Honour enjoyed a prominent beginning to his sophomore season, including a pair of graded stakes victories at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. Greatest Honour was put on the shelf following a third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby last March.
He made his comeback in the Grade 3 Challenger on March 12 at Tampa Bay Downs, where he was sixth in his lone off-the-board start. In the last out Ghostzapper, he was in stalking position down the backstretch but was unable to catch the Todd Pletcher-trained Fearless, who won by six lengths.
McGaughey noted that Greatest Honour’s effort at Tampa Bay Downs was more visually appealing than it appears on form.
“I ended up having to go to Tampa and run him two turns over a deeper track. The race didn’t look good on paper, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked,” McGaughey said. “We came back at Gulfstream, and he just caught that horse of Todd’s who was on the lead. We tried to win the race, but we didn’t catch him. He seemed to come out of it well, I liked the way he breezed. He’ll have a couple more breezes before the Westchester and we’ll go from there.”
Greatest Honour is out of the Street Cry mare Tiffany’ Honour – a half-sister to Belmont Stakes winners Jazil and Rags to Riches, who hails from prestigious broodmare lines of Better Than Honour, Blush With Pride and Best In Show.
Doubly Blessed targeting Elmont Starter Handicap on Opening Day at Belmont; Rotknee possible for Mike Lee
Trainer Mike Maker said Three Diamonds Farm's graded-stakes placed Doubly Blessed, last out winner of the More To Tell at the Big A, is likely to make his next start in the $60,000 Elmont Starter Handicap on April 28 at Belmont Park, Opening Day of the 44-day spring meet. The seven-furlong Elmont Handicap is open to 3-year-olds and up that have started for a claiming price of $20,000 or less in 2021-22 and have started in New York this year.
"He's doing well. He'll run back in the starter at Belmont," Maker said.
Doubly Blessed posted a three-race win streak traveling a one-turn mile last year at the Big A, taking a $16,000 claiming mile ahead of a pair of allowance scores. Following a strong optional-claiming win in May at Belmont that garnered a career-best 97 Beyer, Doubly Blessed finished seventh in the Grade 1 Forego at Saratoga and third in the Grade 2 Kelso Handicap at Belmont.
He opened his current campaign with a pair of one-turn mile starts at the Big A, including a runner-up effort in the Stymie in February ahead of a two-length score in the More To Tell on the March 26 New York Claiming Championship Day card.
Maker said the versatile gelding, who sports a record of 7-1-0-3 on turf, will remain on dirt for the time being with an eye to a return to stakes company this summer.
"I think his best races have been on the dirt," Maker said. "At some point he will [return to stakes], but he will most likely show up in that starter in the first part of Belmont."
Paradise Farms and David Staudacher's Lady Scarlet will target the six-furlong Grade 3 Miss Preakness on May 20 at Pimlico following her distant fourth-place finish last out in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Beaumont on April 10 at Keeneland.
"She ran OK. It was probably an eighth of a mile too far for her," Maker said. "We'll cut her back as well. We're looking at the Miss Preakness."
The 3-year-old daughter of Union Rags was claimed for $150,000 out of a maiden score in November at Churchill Downs and three starts later captured the six-furlong Cicada on March 19 at Aqueduct.
Maker said William Butler's New York-homebred Rotknee could target the seven-furlong Mike Lee, a seven-furlong sprint for state-breds on the May 30 Big Apple Showcase Day card.
The speedy Runhappy colt made his first four starts against fellow state-breds, graduating at second asking traveling six furlongs in August at Saratoga. His next two starts came with frontrunning scores at the Big A, notching an optional-claiming win in February ahead of a 2 3/4-length score in the seven-furlong Damon Runyon on March 13.
Rotknee finished a distant seventh as the mutuel favorite last out in the Animal Kingdom, a six-furlong synthetic sprint against open company on April 2 at Turfway Park.
"He didn't really care for the Tapeta, so we'll get him back to the dirt," Maker said.
Belmont Park Week 1 stakes probables
Friday, April 29
$100,000 Affirmed Success
Probable: Bank On Shea (Ray Handal), Reggae Music Man (Patrick Reynolds)
Possible: Lobsta (Gary Sciacca), Market Alert (James Ryerson), Wudda U Think Now (Rudy Rodriguez)
Saturday, April 30
$100,000 Elusive Quality
Probable: American Monarch (Bill Mott), Big Package (David Donk), Proven Strategies (Mark Casse), Snapper Sinclair (Steve Asmussen), Therapist (Christophe Clement), Toro Strike (Todd Pletcher), Value Proposition (Chad Brown)
Possible: Voodoo Zip (Christophe Clement)
Sunday, May 1
$100,000 License Fee
Probable: Alwayz Late (Bill Mott), Assertive Style (Tom Morley), Gogo Shoes (Derek Ryan), Miss J McKay (Christophe Clement), Miss Majorette (Mark Casse)
Possible: Miss Auramet (Jorge Duarte, Jr.)