Graded wins with Life Is Good, Charge It top four-win day for Pletcher
by NYRA Press Office
- Graded wins with Life Is Good, Charge It top four-win day for Pletcher
- European Turf Triple contenders visit training track
- Brown breezes graded stakes winners for upcoming engagements
- McPeek sends Tiz the Bomb and Classic Causeway for G1 Belmont Derby
- Speaker’s Corner’s earns 102 BSF for runner-up effort in G2 Nerud
- Tremont winner Two of a Kind set for fall return
ELMONT, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher celebrated a four-win day on Saturday at Belmont Park, led by graded scores with Life Is Good in the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud and Charge It in the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer. The $2 million yearling purchase Capensis and the New York-bred Liam’s Map gelding Jerry the Nipper also visited the winner’s circle in races 5 and 10, respectively.
“That was a nice day,” said Pletcher.
Life Is Good made a triumphant return in his first start since an even fourth-place finish in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup where he made the lead but tired in the final two furlongs and faded to finish 2 1/4-lengths behind the victorious Country Grammer.
His resounding five-length victory in the Nerud proved that the son of Into Mischief had not lost a step from his trip to Dubai, returning with the same gusto he showed throughout his sparkling sophomore campaign that was capped with a 5 3/4-length triumph in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile in November at Del Mar.
Life Is Good broke well from post 1 under Flavien Prat and took command as Grade 1-winner Speaker’s Corner pressed a half-length to his outside. Life Is Good made easy work of the challenge and quickly separated from his foe as the field of four rounded the turn. He continued to widen his advantage down the lane with Speaker’s Corner unable to keep up and fading to second. Life Is Good completed the seven furlongs in 1:21.70 and was awarded a career-best 112 Beyer Speed Figure.
“He came back excellent,” said Pletcher. “We felt confident that he had maintained his form based on the way he had trained, but it’s nice to see him go over and live up to expectations.”
Now that Life Is Good has successfully vanquished one of Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott’s heavyweights in Speaker’s Corner, he’ll likely face Mott’s other top older male, yesterday’s Grade 2 Stephen Foster winner Olympiad, should they both make their next outing in the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 6 at Saratoga.
Pletcher said Life Is Good is ready for a potential matchup with Olympiad, who garnered a 111 Beyer for his Stephen Foster coup.
“Olympiad is on quite a streak himself and you’d always expect the Whitney to be a difficult race, but we’re very pleased with the way that he [Life Is Good] is doing,” said Pletcher.
Four races later, Whisper Hill Farm’s homebred Charge It lived up to his 3-5 favoritism in the Grade 3 Dwyer, winning the one-mile test for sophomores by a sublime 23 lengths in his first start since a 17th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7.
The son of Tapit was held comfortably along the rail by Hall of Famer John Velazquez behind pacesetter Fluid Situation before angling to the outside and being asked for more in the turn. Charge It ate up ground with every stride and came away with a 10-length advantage at the stretch call before running a bit greenly down the lane and widening his margin to 23 lengths with one tap of the crop from Velazquez. The effort garnered a 111 Beyer - the highest number recorded by a 3-year-old this year - and was a major improvement from his previous career-best 93 that he earned for his runner-up effort in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April.
“That’s pretty crazy,” Pletcher said of the win margin. “We thought he would run well, and you never think of one winning by that type of margin, but he’s a colt that we’ve always been very high on and he’s always trained like a horse that was capable of great things. He’s starting to get a bit more maturity and seasoning now and I still think there’s room for improvement.”
Pletcher experienced the highs and lows of horse racing yesterday when his four wins came on the heels of the announcement that Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets winner Mo Donegal would miss the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers on August 27 at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup in November at Keeneland due to bone bruising.
While Mo Donegal will not be representing the Pletcher barn in the Travers this year, Pletcher could still have a chance to capture the “Mid-Summer Derby” with Charge It.
“That’s what we’re thinking and that’s the goal,” Pletcher said. “We’re very pleased with the way he ran and I feel like as he matures, he’s trained like a horse that a mile and a quarter is within his range.”
Along with his already-established sophomore string, Pletcher has plenty to look forward to with recent 3-year-old maiden winners Saint Tapit and Capensis, who both posted eye-catching debut maiden wins this week at Belmont. Saint Tapit, out of 2011 Horse of the Year Havre de Grace, graduated over dirt last Sunday while Capensis was a sharp winner of yesterday’s fifth race, a 1 1/16-mile maiden special weight over the inner turf course.
Capensis, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Robert LaPenta, Gainseway Stable, Winchell Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Thoroughbreds, was a $2 million purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning Unbridled’s Song mare Tara’s Tango.
A grey son of Tapit, Capensis broke from post 4 under Jose Ortiz and rated in sixth-of-7 as Breakwater set the tempo over the firm turf. Ortiz swung Capensis three-wide through the turn and gave steady urging as his mount picked off his rivals and took the lead at the top of the stretch. He powered home under right-handed urging from Ortiz to post a five-length victory in a final time of 1:39.94.
Pletcher said Capensis’ bullet breeze going a half-mile in 49.99 over Belmont’s inner turf on June 24 showed his proficiency for the lawn.
“He really took to the turf when we breezed him on it, so we were expecting a good debut, but I thought that was very impressive,” Pletcher said. “He’ll probably go to an allowance race next. He’s kind of behind some of the other [sophomores], but hopefully he can make up ground quickly and make his way into a 3-year-old stake at some point.”
In addition to his successes in the Empire State yesterday, Pletcher was represented at Churchill Downs by Grade 1 Cigar Mile Handicap presented by NYRA Bets winner Americanrevolution, who finished a game second to Olympiad in the Stephen Foster about an hour after Charge It took the Dwyer.
A New York-bred son of Constitution, Americanrevolution raced in the middle of the seven-horse field down the backstretch under Luis Saez before launching his run at Olympiad in the stretch, battling on strongly to be defeated just 2 1/4 lengths by his accomplished rival.
Pletcher praised Americanrevolution for his improvement from a fourth-place finish in the Blame in his 4-year-old debut on June 4 at Churchill.
“He ran hard and kept trying to the wire and was second-best on the day,” said Pletcher. “But I think now with two races under his belt that he can make another move forward. He’s carrying the New York banner.”
Pletcher said it is possible that Americanrevolution could have a rematch against Olympiad in the Whitney even if Life Is Good is also in the mix.
“I’ll have to talk to the connections and see,” Pletcher said. “Life Is Good is pointing in that direction, but that doesn’t rule out the possibility of running him also.”
Owned by CHC and WinStar Farm, Americanrevolution put together a stellar sophomore campaign last year with stakes wins at all four New York racetracks, capped by his Cigar Mile triumph over stablemate Following Sea in December at Aqueduct.
European Turf Triple contenders visit training track
A total of eight European contenders, representing a cumulative three nations, cleared quarantine on Sunday and jogged the wrong way over the Belmont training track in their first pieces of preparation for Saturday’s beginning legs of the Caesars Turf Triple Series, featuring the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational, both at 10 furlongs.
The octet of European horses, who arrived in New York on Friday, visited the dirt training track at 10:30 a.m. Amongst the group were Belmont Oaks contestants Agartha [Joseph O’Brien], Hot Queen [Pia Brandt], Know Thyself [Francis-Henri Graffard] and With The Moonlight [Charlie Appleby]. Those training for the Belmont Derby included Implementation [Pia Brandt], Machete [Fabrice Chappet], Nations Pride [Charlie Appleby], and Royal Patronage [Charles Johnston].
Daniela LaCroix, travelling assistant for French-based conditioner Pia Brandt, said Hot Queen and Implementation have settled in well since arriving in the United States from her training yard at Chantilly.
“Everything went fine. The horses feel good. We are ready to go,” LaCroix said. “Hot Queen doesn’t mind the ground, maybe she prefers it a bit soft, but she can go on any ground. Implementation is a little bit the same.”
Hot Queen, a two-time winner in her native France, will enter off a sixth-place finish going one mile in the Group 2 Prix de Sandringham on June 5 at Chantilly.
Implementation, an American-bred son of Constitution, broke his maiden at one mile over the Chantilly turf. He finished third two starts back in the Group 3 Prix de Guiche on May 10 at Chantilly, a race won by subsequent French Derby and Coral-Eclipse winner Vadeni.
Representing the stable of Charlie Appleby and globally acclaimed Godolphin are With The Moonlight and Nations Pride, as well as Creative Flair, who is possible for the $150,000 River Memories on July 10 and the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana six days later at Saratoga Race Course. Creative Flair raced in the last two legs of the female division of the Turf Triple series last year in the Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks [third] and the Jockey Club Oaks [fourth].
The trio of horses trained under the watchful eye of Appleby’s travelling assistant Sophie Chretien.
“Everything went fine. The horses are good and feel good,” said Chretien. “We just went for a jog to stretch their legs and show them a bit of daylight after being in quarantine. Everybody was happy. They are horses that will suit their races. Creative Flair was here last year, so she knows America.”
With The Moonlight, a two-time winner by Frankel, was a distant 11th in the last-out Group 1 Epsom Oaks on June 5. Nations Pride, by Teofilo, won the Jumeriah Derby at Meydan Racecourse in his 3-year-old debut before winning a listed stake at Newmarket. He last raced when eighth in the Group 1 Epsom Derby.
“With The Moonlight is a big scopey filly,” Chretien said. “I think Nations Pride should fit American tracks. He ran in Dubai and won there.”
Turf Triple invitees Stone Age [Belmont Derby] and Concert Hall [Belmont Oaks], from trainer Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle Training Center in Ireland, are scheduled to ship to New York on Wednesday.
Brown breezes graded stakes winners for upcoming engagements
Trainer Chad Brown breezed a number of his horses over the Belmont Park inner turf on Sunday in preparation for upcoming graded events led by Peter Brant’s multiple Grade 1-winner Regal Glory, who went five furlongs in company with stablemate In Italian.
Exiting a triumph in the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game on June 11 at Belmont, Regal Glory is slated to face males in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fourstardave on August 13 at Saratoga Race Course. She completed her five-furlong move in 1:02.77, while graded stakes winner In Italian, third in the Just a Game, finished off in 1:02.66.
“Regal Glory is doing fine. She continues to be in good form and is still on target for the Fourstardave,” Brown said.
Also on the work tab for Brown was Klaravich Stables’ Technical Analysis, who went five furlongs in 1:02.58 and is on target for the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 16 at Saratoga. By Kingman, Technical Analysis won the Grade 3 Gallorette at Pimlico last out for Brown, who could have as many as three in the nine-furlong Diana with Grade/Group 1 winners Rougir and Bleecker Street also under consideration.
Working a half-mile in company for Brown were Haughty [50.25] and McKulick [50.22], in their final breezes for Saturday’s Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational. Haughty will arrive at the Belmont Oaks off a 2022 debut win in the Penn Oaks on June 3 at Penn National. Placed in both graded stakes starts this year, McKulick eyes her first stakes triumph.
“That was their final work for the Belmont Oaks and they both looked great,” Brown said.
Adhamo, second in the Grade 1 Manhattan to stable mate Tribhuvan, went five furlongs in 1:02.65 and will target the Grade 1 United Nations on July 23 at Monmouth Park.
Brown recently welcomed a new addition to the barn in Teruya Yoshida’s Tokyo Gold, who was tenth in the Manhattan and second in last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby. The French-bred son of Kendargent went five furlongs in 1:02.69.
“He transferred to me in fine physical condition. He’ll run sometime at Saratoga, but I’m not sure which race yet,” Brown said.
Peter Brant’s Balthus, a 4-year-old son of Galileo, defeated winners going 11 furlongs over the inner turf on June 30 at Belmont. He registered a 92 Beyer Speed Figure for the win, after breaking his maiden by six lengths going 10 furlongs over the same surface in his prior start.
“That horse is developing well and as distances continue to increase, you’ll see the best of him,” Brown said.
On Friday, Brown sent out Wise Racing’s Empire Hope to a debut victory going 6 1/2-furlongs over the main track. A half-sister to Grade 1-winner Sassy Image, the daughter of Empire Maker recorded a 69 Beyer for her effort.
“I’m not sure what we’re doing with her yet, but she’s a nice prospect and I think you’ll see the best of her when we stretch her out as well,” Brown said.
McPeek sends Tiz the Bomb and Classic Causeway for G1 Belmont Derby
Trainer Ken McPeek will send out a pair of Grade 1 Kentucky Derby alumni in Tiz the Bomb and Classic Causeway in Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, the 10-furlong first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple Series.
The Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational will again launch the male division of the Caesars Turf Triple series that encompasses the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6 and the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs during the Belmont fall meet.
"Both of these horses - if they run well - will come back in the Saratoga Derby," McPeek said. "These are really important races in their own right. It's a chance for either colt to win a Grade 1 and we know for value as a stallion that's important."
Owned by McPeek's Magdalena Racing, Tiz the Bomb is an omni-surface star, boasting wins on dirt, turf and synthetic. The Hit It a Bomb colt graduated last July in an off-the-turf maiden special weight at Ellis Park to kick off a three-race win streak that included turf scores in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile in September and the Grade 2 Bourbon in October at Keeneland. He closed to finish second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf in November at Del Mar.
Tiz the Bomb returned with an off-the-board effort in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in February over the Gulfstream Park dirt before taking both the John Battaglia Memorial in March and Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks in April over the Turfway Park synthetic.
He finished ninth last out in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs.
"He's doing really well," McPeek said. "He's been training here in Kentucky on the grass all spring since the Derby and we're excited to get him back on turf.
"I think he's definitely a better grass horse than a dirt horse," McPeek added. "He's really intelligent. I think the sire line is a little more grass, but he handles about everything."
Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper's Classic Causeway, by Giant's Causeway and out of the Thunder Gulch mare Private World, will make his turf debut in the Belmont Derby.
The talented chestnut, previously trained by Brian Lynch, captured the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in February and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby one month later before faltering to last-of-11 in the Grade 1 Florida Derby in April at Gulfstream Park. He finished 11th in the Kentucky Derby and was then transferred to McPeek, posting a prominent third-place effort last out in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 25 at Thistledown.
"We tried to rate him a little bit, but he's a really headstrong horse early in the race," McPeek said. "I think he's got his mind set on go when he leaves the gate and we're trying to re-tool him a little bit and get him to turn off for a bit. He's a really smart horse. Tactics wise in the Ohio Derby, I would have liked to have seen him rated a little further back and then make a run. But he fought to the finish and ran a real respectable third.
"I hate running the two against each other, but I think it's the right spot for both of them," he added.
Julien Leparoux will retain the mount on Classic Causeway, while Dylan Davis, leading rider at the Belmont spring/summer meet, picks up the mount on Tiz the Bomb.
Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing and Magdalena Racing's Creative Minister, a last-out fifth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11, will make his next start in the nine-furlong $135,000 Curlin on July 29 at Saratoga with an eye to a start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 27.
Creative Minister, a game third in the Grade 1 Preakness in May at Pimlico, breezed a half-mile in 48.36 Saturday over the Oklahoma dirt training track.
"The Curlin is the spot for him and if he were to win it, we'd come back in the Travers," McPeek said. "He's a colt that's done real well. He just had a little half-mile breeze over the Oklahoma training track yesterday and I think the Curlin is a real good spot for him."
McPeek said Creative Minister may not have appreciated his first trip over Big Sandy in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes.
"I don't think he handled the surface all that well at Belmont," McPeek said. "He got really tired over it. It's a tricky track to race over and I believe that horses stabled at Belmont have a distinct advantage racing at Belmont, especially in a race of that distance that time of year."
McPeek said Creative Minister is likely to breeze over the main track at Saratoga ahead of the Curlin.
"Most of my horses train over the Oklahoma training track and I think it's a little bit deeper than some other surfaces we work with. It takes a little time to acclimate," McPeek said. "He'll probably get a work or two over the main track, too."
McPeek said Phoenix Thoroughbred III's Crazy Beautiful, a rallying second last out in the Lady Jacqueline on June 25 at Thistledown, will be under consideration for pair of nine-furlong tilts at the Spa, including the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee on July 24 and the $135,000 Summer Colony on August 19. The Summer Colony is restricted to older fillies and mares that have not won a graded stakes this year.
"If she's doing well enough, she'll show up in the Shuvee," McPeek said.
The multiple graded-stakes winning 4-year-old daughter of Liam's Map boasts a record of 18-7-5-1 with purse earnings in excess of $1 million.
Speaker’s Corner’s earns 102 BSF for runner-up effort in G2 Nerud
Godolphin homebred Speaker’s Corner was no match for Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile-winner Life Is Good in yesterday’s Grade 2 John A. Nerud at Belmont Park, but ran valiantly in defeat to earn a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, his fourth triple digit figure in a graded stakes this year.
Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, Speaker’s Corner faced a tough rival for the second race in a row after finishing third to the undefeated Flightline in the Grade 1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 11 at Belmont. The Nerud was his fifth start his year and first time at seven furlongs since his 4 1/2-length victory in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap presented by NYRA Bets in April at Aqueduct.
“He’s good and he’s fine,” said Leana Willaford, Mott’s Belmont-based assistant. “He ran into a couple tough horses his past couple starts. It happens. He ran hard.”
A 4-year-old son of Street Sense, Speaker’s Corner earned the highest Beyer recorded this year when garnering a 114 for his Carter triumph. His other wins this year were a pair of one-turn mile stakes at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Fred W. Hooper in January and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile in March.
Tremont winner Two of a Kind set for fall return
Trainer Brian Lynch said K and R Racing Stable and Town Branch Racing’s Two of a Kind will aim for a fall return after incurring a minor injury in his gate-to-wire score in the $150,000 Tremont, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for juveniles on June 9, at Belmont Park.
"He strained a ligament in his shoulder in that race, so he's having a bit of time off," Lynch said. "We won't see him again until the fall possibly. It's a bit of a setback but nothing that time won't heal."
The Overanalyze bay powered his way to the lead under Luis Saez in the Tremont and never looked back en route to a two-length score which garnered a 76 Beyer.
Two of a Kind entered the Tremont from a similar frontrunning maiden score on May 4 at Churchill Downs with Saez up. He had been targeting the six-furlong Grade 3, $175,000 Sanford on July 16 at Saratoga Race Course.
Lynch said he'll take his time with the undefeated colt.
"He's certainly showed he's got some talent, so we'll give him all the time he needs," Lynch said.