Mystic Guide arrives at Belmont Park for G2 Suburban
by NYRA Press Office
- Mystic Guide arrives at Belmont Park for G2 Suburban
- Prioritize seeks first graded stakes win in G2 Suburban
- Informative looks to continue bucking the odds in Saturday’s G2 Suburban
- New York-bred Ready A.P. impresses on debut; Straw Into Gold steps into open company in $100K Manila
- Beren to take hot streak to the Spa in $120K Curlin
- Belmont Park week 12 stakes probables
Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide arrived at Belmont Park early Friday morning ahead of his highly anticipated return in Saturday’s Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban at 10 furlongs for 4-year-olds and up.
Belmont will offer six stakes races over Independence Day weekend which runs through Monday, July 5, including a pair of Breeders’ Cup "Win and You’re In" qualifiers led by the Suburban [Classic] and the Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud [Sprint], which will see 4-year-olds and up contest at seven furlongs on Sunday.
The holiday weekend kicks off Saturday with the $100,000 Perfect Sting and continues on July 4 with the $100,000 Manila, while the Grade 3, $250,000 Dwyer anchors a Monday card that also offers the $150,000 Grand Couturier.
Stidham said Mystic Guide has arrived in good order for his first start since capturing the Group 1 Dubai World Cup on March 27 at Meydan. The 4-year-old Ghostzapper chestnut, out of the multiple Grade 1-winning A.P. Indy mare Music Note, worked a bullet half-mile in 48.20 seconds Saturday on the Fair Hill dirt in his final preparation.
“He's settled in well this morning and we're going to school him in the paddock today in the third race,” said Stidham. “He had a bullet work on Saturday. We weren’t looking for anything special. It was a comfortable 48 and change and he came out of it in good shape.
“We're delighted that everything is going well with him,” added Stidham. “He's made a good transition from Dubai and he seems very healthy and happy and mentally where we need him.”
Mystic Guide, who has paired with Belmont Stakes-winning rider Luis Saez for his two starts this season, opened his current campaign in impressive fashion with a six-length win in the Grade 3 Razorback Handicap on a sloppy track on February 27 at Oaklawn Park, garnering a career-best 108 Beyer Speed Figure.
The chestnut demonstrated his class in winning the Dubai World Cup, overcoming a pair of late scratches that delayed the start of the $12 million event when Great Scot got loose during the post parade and Military Law broke through the starting gate and ran off.
“That was a strange scenario with the loose horses,” said Stidham. “He was really getting wound up and I will admit I was concerned about how he would run, but you saw what he did.
On Saturday, Mystic Guide will have a second crack at the undefeated Happy Saver, who bested the Stidham trainee by three-quarters of a length in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup in October at Belmont.
Stidham said he isn’t concerned about a potential lack of pace in the compact six-horse field when Mystic Guide exits post 4 under Saez.
“We've got Saez up and he knows the horse well,” said Stidham. “We'll break, and going a mile and a quarter, we're not going to be in any hurry. If someone wants to set a little pace in front of us, we'll hopefully be in a stalking spot. Luis is going to have to decide that after the gates open. I was really happy with our draw.”
Given Mystic Guide’s impressive effort in the slop at Oaklawn, Stidham said he also isn’t concerned about the 70 percent chance of precipitation forecasted by the National Weather Service for Saturday in the Elmont, New York area.
“A little moisture in the track isn't going to hurt us,” said Stidham.
While rain may benefit Mystic Guide, the weather could deter Stidham’s plans with Princess Grace and Gershwin, who are both entered in weekend stakes at Belmont but did not travel to New York on Friday.
Susan and John Moore’s Princess Grace, last out winner of the off-the-turf Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs in November, is entered in Saturday’s Perfect Sting at one-mile on the turf and cross-entered in the Grade 3 Dr. James Penny Memorial, a 1 1/16-mile turf event on Tuesday at Parx.
“We're still on the fence with Princess Grace, but we're leaning more towards Parx,” said Stidham. “We could bring her up Saturday morning if we choose to run. If it's a soft or yielding turf, we probably wouldn't come but if it came off we'd consider.”
Godolphin homebred Gershwin, by Distorted Humor, is a 3-year-old half-brother to Mystic Guide and entered in both Monday’s Grade 3 Dwyer at Belmont, a one-turn mile on Big Sandy; and Saturday's Grade 3 Kent, a nine-furlong turf test for sophomores at Delaware Park.
Stidham said he’ll keep an eye on the weather to determine if the Kent will come off the turf before making any decision.
“He's in the Kent and we entered this morning for the Dwyer with the same sort of options,” said Stidham. “He's doing great and training well.”
Prioritize seeks first graded stakes win in G2 Suburban
Veteran conditioner H. James Bond said he is hoping to see an improved run out of William L. Clifton Jr.’s Prioritize as he stretches back out to a mile and a quarter for Saturday’s Grade 2 Suburban at Belmont Park.
The 6-year-old son of Tizway was third in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Woodward in September at Saratoga following a sharp allowance optional claiming win at the Spa going nine furlongs.
A prominent placing in a prestigious race gave Bond confidence to try the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup where he was fourth behind fellow Suburban aspirants Happy Saver and Mystic Guide, as well as last year’s Suburban winner Tacitus.
After an extended break, Prioritize commenced his 2021 season in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on May 14, where he was 10 lengths off the pace over a speed-favoring track and made up enough ground to finish fifth under jockey Joel Rosario.
“It was a speed-favoring track that day and coming off the bench going a mile and three-sixteenths is no easy task,” Bond said. “He got a good race out of it though. He saved ground and Joel did the best that he could. We’re just hoping for some more improvement as we’re trying to tackle some of the big boys on Saturday. We freshened him up over the winter and it was a positive for him, so fingers crossed he can put up a big run.”
Bond captured the 1999 Suburban with multiple graded stakes-winner Behrens, who arrived at his successful Suburban engagement as the heavy favorite off three straight graded stakes wins in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade 1 Oaklawn Handicap and Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap.
While Prioritize doesn’t boast a resume of that prominence, Bond said the Classic distance will be right up his alley.
“He was pretty wide in the Woodward, but he made a good showing that day. He’s just a grinder and grinders win going a mile and a quarter,” Bond said.
Bond, who also trained Tizway, purchased Prioritize for $45,000 from the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, where he was consigned by Legacy Bloodstock.
“He and Tizway were both big-bodied horses,” Bond said. “This horse is a beautiful horse. I can't believe we only paid $45,000 for him. He's just a nice horse.”
Rosario will return to the irons aboard Prioritize from the rail.
Informative looks to continue bucking the odds in Saturday’s G2 Suburban
Trin-Brook Stables’ Informative already proved he can win a graded stakes as a long-shot and will look to register a second upset win in as many months when he competes as part of a six-horse field in Saturday’s Grade 2 Suburban for 4-year-olds and up going 1 1/14 miles at Belmont.
The Uriah St. Lewis trainee captured the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on June 12 at Monmouth Park, winning at 79-1 odds in besting Grade 1-placed Ny Traffic by a full length in the one-mile contest for just his third career victory in 25 starts.
St. Lewis will put the 4-year-old Bodemeister colt up against another accomplished field in the Suburban, which is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1, $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Del Mar.
After being stabled at Parx, Informative will be making his second career start at Belmont.
“He’s doing everything good; his training’s been good,” St. Lewis said Friday morning. “We’ll be there sometime tonight.”
Informative, again the longest shot on the board on the morning line at 15-1, will break from post 2 with jockey Manny Franco in the irons for the 135th running of the Suburban.
“I’m very confident because he’s running the same numbers as the rest of the field,” St. Lewis said. “We have a very good jockey. I think he’s doing fantastic and I think he has a very good chance to win.”
Informative earned a personal-best 99 Beyer for his Salvator Mile victory, in which he rallied from last-of-10 to win over a fast Monmouth track. After never posting a Beyer higher than 85 through his first 23 starts, Informative has now reached the 90-plateau in consecutive races, starting with a runner-up effort going 1 1/16 miles in an optional claimer on May 15 at Pimlico  before his breakthrough performance last out.
“Within the last two months, we’ve seen an entirely different horse,” St. Lewis said. “He’s doing everything right. He’s producing wins, so hopefully, we’ll just do it again. He got stronger. He’s always been on the lean side; he’s not one of those big, heavy horses. But he eats up everything and sleeps well and has been training fantastic.
“His attitude has changed,” he added. “He used to be a little more rough around the edges. Now, he’s more focused when he’s getting ready to run. He’s doing great.”
Informative’s only previous start at Belmont came when sixth against allowance company in June 2020. That race – won by Tap It to Win – pitted Informative against Suburban even-money favorite Mystic Guide [who ran second that day]. St. Lewis said Informative could also relish stretching out to 1 1/4 miles for the first time in his career.
“I think it will benefit him a lot because he’s one of those horses who can just sit and wait for the race to develop in front of him and then make his run,” St. Lewis said. “The last time he ran there, he ran against some of the horses running tomorrow. He got checked at the top of the stretch and ended up finishing sixth. After that, we went all over the place, but we’re back and he’s focused now and hopefully we’ll see the same Informative that we did in the last two races.”
St. Lewis owns Trin-Brook Stables with his family and said that has allowed him to take his time and place Informative in spots that have helped him improve later in his career. It was the same trajectory Discreet Lover took in winning the 2018 Grade 3 Excelsior and the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup [at 45-1 odds] as a 5-year-old.
“We train for ourselves, which is great, so we don’t have any pressure,” St. Lewis said. “If we do poorly, we go back to the drawing board. If we do well, we look good. That’s the good thing about it. With my wife, son and daughter, we sit down together and say, ‘this is a good spot,’ or ‘let’s try this’ and then we do it.”
New York-bred Ready A.P. impresses on debut; Straw Into Gold steps into open company in $100K Manila
West Point Thoroughbreds and Jimmy Kahig’s Ready A.P. garnered a 54 Beyer in a visually-impressive debut Thursday under Belmont Stakes-winning rider Luiz Saez in a 5 1/2-furlong state-bred maiden special weight on Big Sandy.
Trained by Christophe Clement, the dark bay daughter of More Than Ready was bumped at the gate by Helens Spirit, who broke outward, and forced to steady behind rivals while conceding several lengths.
Saez hustled Ready A.P. into contention, collaring the pacesetting Darn That Song at the quarter-pole and drawing off to a comfortable 8 1/4-length score in a final time of 1:06.88.
Clement said he wasn’t too concerned about the difficult start.
“I was not too anxious because I knew she was fast. In four strides, she was back in the race. Obviously, next time she will be more mature,” said Clement. “She's a very nice filly. She trained very well and raced very well. It's exciting. She's always been fast. It's easy to win with that kind.”
Out of the A.P. Indy mare Girlaboutown, Ready A.P. was purchased for $125,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearling Showcase. She was bred in the Empire State by Chester and Mary Broman.
Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds said Ready A.P. ran to expectations after training with Clement’s son, and assistant trainer, Miguel, at Saratoga.
“All the credit goes to the team,” Finley said. “She’s been at Saratoga since leaving Eddie Woods’ operation in Ocala. Eddie isn’t one to tout a horse, but he really thinks she can be a runner. We’re excited to have a more than solid winner.”
While a target has yet to be selected for Ready A.P.’s stakes debut, a logical option could be the $100,000 Stillwater, a six-furlong sprint for state-bred juvenile fillies on July 22 at Saratoga.
“The absolute beauty of the New York-bred program is that there are options,” said Finley. “I think that’s why people look at the New York-bred as the best in the country. We won’t run her back too quickly. Ultimately, a decision on her next start will be left up to Christophe and Miguel. They work so well together and feed off each other. We’re dealing with four or five different spots.”
Waterville Lake Stable’s New York-homebred Straw Into Gold will make his first start against open company in Sunday’s $100,000 Manila, a one-mile Widener turf test for sophomores at Belmont.
The Hard Spun grey enters from a front-running score by a neck in a 1 1/16-mile state-bred allowance event on May 23 at Belmont.
“It's a little bit ambitious, but why not. He's doing well and training great. Sometimes, you have to be ambitious,” said Clement.
Straw Into Gold is out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Strike It Rich, a graded stakes winner on turf; and is a half-brother to multiple dirt stakes winner Sea Foam, who were both trained by Clement.
“The dam belonged to Waterville, who is a very successful New York-bred owner and breeder,” said Clement. “They usually sell their colts and keep their fillies, but this one had an issue as a yearling so they kept him and he turned out to be a nice horse.
“Some of the family are dirt and some are turf,” he added. “Straw Into Gold is more of a turf horse.”
Straw Into Gold will exit the inside post under Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Beren to take hot streak to the Spa in $120K Curlin
Beren, winner of his last three starts against stakes company, will take things up a notch for trainer Butch Reid, Jr. when targeting the $120,000 Curlin on July 30 at Saratoga Race Course.
Owned by St. Omer’s Farm and Christophe Feifarek, the sophomore son of Weigelia defeated graded stakes winner Candy Man Rocket in the Gold Fever on May 9 at Belmont Park before returning to Big Sandy off three week’s rest to capture an off-the-turf edition of the Paradise Creek on May 30.
Last out, he defeated his Pennsylvania-bred counterparts when stretching out to two turns in the off-the-turf Crowd Pleaser on June 22 at Parx Racing.
“He’ll move up to Saratoga. We just got settled up there on Tuesday,” Reid, Jr. said. “We’ll point him for the Curlin on July 30. It will give him a good opportunity to see where he fits in with the big boys.”
Reid, Jr. said he would have five stalls at Saratoga for this season, where he plans on running Mainstay, a half-sister to 2020 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Vequist, in the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville on Opening Day, July 15.
“We’re bringing the big filly Vequist up there. She’s training really well here at Parx,” Reid, Jr. said. “We’re pointing her little sister Mainstay for the Schuylerville.”
Mainstay, by freshman sire Astern, won first out going 4 ½ furlongs on June 4 at Monmouth Park in a 7 ¾-length romp.
Belmont Park week 12 stakes probables
Saturday, July 10
Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride
Probable: Australasia (Brad Cox), Inject (Bad Cox), Miss Brazil (Tony Dutrow), Red Ghost (Wesley Ward), Souper Sensational (Mark Casse)
Possible: Bella Sofia (Rudy Rodriguez), Cilla (Brett Brinkman), Dayoutoftheoffice (Tim Hamm)
Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational
Probable: Cirona (Christophe Ferland), Con Lima (Todd Pletcher), Gam’s Mission (Cherie DeVaux), Higher Truth (Chad Brown), Nazuna (Roger Varian), Plum Ali (Christophe Clement), Rocky Sky (Chad Brown), Santa Barbara (Aidan O’Brien), Spanish Loveaffair (Mark Casse)
Possible: Mia Martina (Graham Motion)
Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational
Probable: Bolshoi Ballet (Aidan O’Brien), Cellist (Rust Arnold), Du Jour (Bill Mott), Hard Love (Jonathan Thomas), Hidden Enemy (Steve Asmussen), Palazzi (Mark Casse), Safe Conduct (Phil Serpe), Sainthood (Todd Pletcher), Tokyo Gold (Shinya Kobayashi)
Sunday, July 11
$150,000 River Memories
Probable: Call Me Love (Christophe Clement), Civil Union (Shug McGaughey), Mutamakina (Christophe Clement), Thankful (Todd Pletcher), Virginia Joy (Chad Brown)
Possible: Delta’s Kingdom (Bill Mott)