Jun 24, 2022
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Francesca Le Donne Photo

Pletcher stars Emmanuel and Annapolis breeze for upcoming G1 Caesars Belmont Derby; next starts under consideration for a bevy of older horses

by NYRA Press Office

  • Pletcher stars Emmanuel and Annapolis breeze for upcoming G1 Caesars Belmont Derby; next starts under consideration for a bevy of older horses
  • Spendarella back stateside after solid Ascot effort
  • Buy Land and See works half-mile over turf; Dutrow closing in on 2,000 wins
  • New York-bred juvenile fillies gearing up for Saturday debut at Belmont Park
  • Belmont Park Week 10 stakes probables

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher breezed Emmanuel and Annapolis five-eighths in company over the Belmont inner turf in 59.81 seconds Friday in preparation for the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series set for July 9.

WinStar Farm and Siena Farm's Emmanuel captured the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last out on June 4 at Belmont, while Annapolis, winner of the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October here, finished second most recently in his seasonal debut over soft going on June 3 in the Grade 2 Penn Mile.

Pletcher said he liked what he saw from the breeze but could consider sending Annapolis to the one-mile $100,000 Manila on July 4 with an eye to the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6.

"It was excellent from both," Pletcher said. "My biggest concern for Annapolis is it's only his second start off the bench. We'll see how he bounces out of it. We could go in the Manila and that would set him up for the Saratoga Derby. Emmanuel certainly deserves a try after the Pennine Ridge."

Pletcher noted that Whisper Hill Farm's Grand Sonata, winner of the Grade 3 Kitten's Joy in February at Gulfstream, is also under consideration for the Belmont Derby.

The Pletcher barn is loaded with a talented group of older routers, including New York-bred Americanrevolution, who is pointed to the nine-furlong Grade 2 Stephen Foster on July 2 at Churchill Downs; and Dynamic One, who will target the 10-furlong Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park.

Pletcher said CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm's Grade 1 Cigar Mile-winner Americanrevolution should improve off his fourth-place finish to the victorious Dynamic One last out in the nine-furlong Blame at Churchill Downs.

"It was maybe a better race than it looks on paper. He was pretty wide on both turns - figure wise, it came back solid," Pletcher said of the effort that garnered the 4-year-old Constitution chestnut a 94 Beyer in his seasonal debut. "I think he took all the worst of it there off the layoff and adjusted schedule late. He should be ready to make a move forward."

Pletcher said a good effort in the Suburban would set Dynamic One up for a start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 3 at Saratoga which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.

"We like the idea of going a mile and a quarter in the Suburban and then waiting for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter," Pletcher said.

Multiple graded-stakes winner Fearless and graded-stakes winner Happy Saver breezed a half-mile in company in 50.88 Friday over the dirt training track, while the graded-stakes placed duo of Untreated and Vindictive worked five-eighths in company Friday in 1:01.66 on the same course.

Pletcher said he is continuing to sort out plans for the group, which could include the Suburban as well as the nine-furlong Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap on July 9 at Prairie Meadows.

"I haven't totally sorted it out, but right now Americanrevolution goes in the Stephen Foster and Dynamic One in the Suburban," Pletcher said. "I have to decide what I'm doing with Untreated and Vindictive and Happy Saver and Fearless. Both Happy Saver and Fearless had an easy half this morning."

Pletcher said he was particularly impressed by the work from Untreated.

"Untreated worked well. All the horses are doing well, it's just a matter of getting them in the right spot," Pletcher said. "All those horses can handle a mile and a quarter, no problem. I also think they can be just as effective at a mile and an eighth. We just have to try and split them up a little bit and find the best spot for each one. Untreated and Vindictive could be possible for the Suburban or something like the Cornhusker."

Pletcher noted that the versatile multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control, who won the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on June 18 at Monmouth, could target the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on July 23.

Spendarella back stateside after solid Ascot effort

Trainer Graham Motion said Gainesway Farm's Spendarella arrived stateside Thursday following her strong second in the Group 1 Coronation on June 17 at Royal Ascot.

The 3-year-old New York-bred daughter of Karakontie won her first three starts, including scores in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride at Gulfstream Park and Grade 2 Appalachian at Keeneland ahead of her 4 3/4-length defeat by the undefeated Inspiral in the one-mile Coronation.

Motion, who finished second in the 2020 Coronation with Sharing, said he was proud of the runner-up effort engineered by William Buick.

"I've never had so many accolades for finishing second in a race," said Motion, with a laugh. "While it was a little frustrating to come up second again in that race, it was very rewarding that she proved that she belonged. There were several Group 1 winners behind her."

Motion said he will take his time finding a next spot for the homebred, although the nine-furlong Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks on August 20 is a possibility.

"It's a little tricky to place her going forward," Motion said. "William felt pretty strongly she's a miler and I think he's probably right, although over here maybe you would get away with a mile and an eighth with our firm flat turf courses. We'll probably look at anything up to a mile and an eighth from here on out, but I’m not in a hurry to run her back. I think she's a Grade 1 filly and I'd like to keep her in Grade 1s. We'll see how the summer goes.

"She ran so well and has had four races now this year," Motion added. "There's a couple races in the fall I’d like to have her around for. She came back pretty well and is actually in quarantine at Churchill right now."

Motion said he was pleased with the fourth-place finish from Highland Chief in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Resorts World Casino Manhattan on June 11 here, which came on the heels of an upset score in the 11-furlong Grade 1 Man o' War on May 14.

He said the 5-year-old Gleneagles horse will target the 12-furlong Grade 1, $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer on August 27 at Saratoga which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf in November at Keeneland.

"He ran a good race. I was a little concerned running him back in a month, but I didn’t have a better option and I thought he was doing well," Motion sad. "He had a license to regress after such a big race in the Man o' War. I'll point him to the Sword Dancer and find one race to get him there. I think that horse will appreciate a little more distance over here. I think a mile and a quarter is a little quick for him."

Motion said True Valour, a pacesetting third in the Grade 1 Jaipur sprinting six-furlongs over the Belmont turf on June 11, will return at Saratoga with an eye towards the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy going 5 1/2-furlongs on August 5.

The 8-year-old multiple graded-stakes winning son of Kodiac garnered a 99 Beyer for the one-length loss to defending champion Casa Creed.

"I love that horse. For an 8-year-old to come out running like that at his age [was impressive]," Motion said, noting it reminded him of the 8-year-old Nature Strip, who captured the Group 1 Kings Stand at Ascot. "These sprinters seem to get better and better with age. He came out of it great and we'll point for the race at Saratoga."

Motion said Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Long Valley Stables' Divine Huntress has enjoyed a little down time after her runner-up effort to Matareya in the Grade 1 Acorn on Belmont Stakes Day.

The sophomore daughter of Divining Rod was purchased privately from a maiden win in December at Parx and followed with an optional-claiming score there in January before fading to ninth in the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at 1 1/16-miles in February at Fair Grounds.

Divine Huntress was an even fifth in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Gazelle in April ahead of a fourth-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan in May at Pimlico.

Motion said the cut back to one-mile in the Acorn may have suited the talented bay.

"Each time we run her we've learned something about her," Motion said. "I feel she had excuses in New Orleans and when we came to Aqueduct she probably benefited from the race. I thought her Black-Eyed Susan run was pretty solid. I think the mile suits her.

"She could come to Saratoga, but I ran her back quickly and I don't want to be in a hurry to run her back," he added. "I've given her a pretty easy couple of weeks here."

Buy Land and See works half-mile over turf; Dutrow closing in on 2,000 wins

Joseph Imbesi’s Pennsylvania homebred Buy Land and See returned to the work tab on Friday with an easy half-mile breeze in 50 seconds flat over Belmont Park’s inner turf course.

“It was a good work – very nice and very easy,” said trainer Tony Dutrow.

A grey son of Cairo Prince, Buy Land and See was an emphatic winner of the With Anticipation against fellow Pennsylvania-breds on June 3 at Penn National under Flavien Prat, taking command at the half-mile marker and strongly widening his margin to 6 3/4 lengths at the wire for his second career stakes victory.

Dutrow said a trip to Saratoga Race Course will be next for Buy Land and See.

“We’ll take him to Saratoga. He’s good,” Dutrow said. “He was the best horse in that race and got aggressive. He’s come out of the race well and we’re super happy with him.”

The win came on the heels of three consecutive runner-up efforts against open allowance company in New York. He earned his other stakes victory as a juvenile in the Awad at Belmont before a game fourth-place effort for his best finish in graded company in the Grade 2 Hill Prince.

Dutrow celebrated another stakes victory in Pennsylvania 11 days later when Team D and Woodford Racing’s multiple graded stakes-placed High Opinion scored her first stakes victory in the Neshaminy MATCH Series at Parx Racing with Prat in the irons. The dark bay Lemon Drop Kid mare tracked in fifth down the backstretch before unleashing a well-timed bid for the lead and finding more with every stride down the lane to take the 1 1/16-mile turf affair by three-quarters of a length.

“She came back great. She was the best horse in the race and Flavien is a top rider,” said Dutrow. “She’s doing fantastic and I couldn’t be happier with her. I don’t really know where she’ll go next. All the spots at Saratoga are extremely competitive.”

High Opinion entered the Neshaminy on the heels of a gutsy third-place effort in the Grade 3 Beaugay on May 14 at Belmont where she was defeated three lengths by Rougir and nosed out of place honors by Our Flash Drive. She previously earned graded black type with a pair of runner-up efforts in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa at Saratoga and Grade 3 Noble Damsel at Belmont last year.

Team D and Madaket Stables’ stakes-winner Miss Brazil has been retired from racing after a distant fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap on May 14. The 4-year-old Palace Malice filly dueled with Grade 1-winner Bella Sofia through quick fractions before tiring and fading to last-of-5.

“She came out of the race fine, but whatever happened in the race was enough for me to call it quits,” Dutrow said. “She’s been retired, she’s in Kentucky and she’ll be sold in the fall.”

Miss Brazil retires with a consistent 9-4-1-2 record and earnings of $288,700. Her best performance was a commanding 6 1/4-length victory in the 2021 Ruthless facing open company at Aqueduct Racetrack. She was defeated a half-length by Grade 1-winner Search Results in the Busher Invitational in her next outing and was bested out of place honors by the well-regarded Bella Sofia in the Jersey Girl that spring.

“She ran some good races against some good horses,” said Dutrow.

Dutrow, who started his first runner in 1978, is closing in on his 2,000th career victory and inched closer to that milestone with High Opinion’s Neshaminy win and a determined allowance victory by Palace Gossip to close out the Belmont Stakes Day card on June 11.

Owned by Niall Brennan and Stephanie Brennan, Palace Gossip scored her second career victory when she dueled with Blame It On Mary throughout the six-furlong turf sprint and battled to the wire to come out on top by a neck over her pacesetting rival. She earned a career-best 76 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, which came after a trio of on-the-board efforts.

“She runs hard every time. She’s commendable and that was a very game effort from her,” Dutrow said. “We’ll take her to Saratoga, too, and we’ll take the next step in the two-other-than New York-bred allowance. She promises to be competitive.”

Dutrow said he is eager to celebrate reaching 2,000 victories, which include Grade 1 triumphs with Grace Hall, Seattle Smooth, Mo Town, The Big Beast, Burning Roma, Embellish the Lace and Rightly So.

“When I was 100 away from 1,900, I got it with no problem. It’s taken me like five years to get to 2,000. But we’re so close now that we’ll get there,” said Dutrow. “I’ve never had any goals in racing. Sure, I’ve said to myself ‘Oh yeah, it would be great to win this race.’ But I never had any goal. Having gotten so close to 2,000, I think that’s the only goal that I’ve ever had now that I’m this close.”

As of June 24, Dutrow’s wins stand at 1,993 with over 2,700 second and third-place finishes.

“I think we can win seven more this year,” Dutrow said.  


New York-bred juvenile fillies gearing up for Saturday debut at Belmont Park

An eye-catching group of juvenile fillies will look for their first victory in Saturday’s first race, a five-furlong state-bred maiden special weight for juvenile fillies, at Belmont Park. Song Parody and Gambling Girl boast some of the most promising pedigrees of the eight fillies as seven of them make their first afternoon appearance.

Emcee Stable, Fortune Farm and Robert G. Hahn’s Song Parody will kick off her career for trainer Kelly Breen. A daughter of leading second-crop sire Practical Joke, Song Parody arrives at her debut off a five-furlong breeze in 1:04.01 on May 31 over the Belmont main track.

“She’s training really well here alongside another colt that she beat in some of their works,” said Richard Nicolai, owner of Fortune Farm. “We’re expecting her to fire. She’s been training good all year and she’s been in New York for a few months. We thought she was ready then and we just couldn’t get a race for her.”

The $25,000 purchase at the OBS October Yearling Sale boasts a prolific female line, her dam is a half-sister to dual Grade 1-winner Midnight Lucky. Her second damsire is Citidancer, the third foal out of blue hen broodmare and graded-winner Willamae. Willamae’s best progeny include dual Grade 1 winner and sire Will’s Way and Grade 1 winner Willa On the Move, as well as Bethany, dam of multiple graded stakes-winner Tizway.

Along with her sparkling female line, Song Parody’s sire line has seen graded success this year as Practical Joke’s Wit took the Grade 3 Bay Shore in April at Aqueduct Racetrack and Girl With a Dream visited the winner’s circle for the Grade 3 Forward Gal in February.

“I like Practical Joke and he was a first-crop sire when I started buying,” said Nicolai. “I bred one of my mares to him and I’ll keep a yearling I have by him. He’s an Into Mischief, what more do you have to say?”

Nicolai said Song Parody had some minor ankle issues as a yearling, but has proven to be worth the gamble at the sale.  

“She’s well-made and has a nice shoulder and nice hip. She’s compact and she can run. We didn’t pay a lot of money for her,” said Nicolai. “I was very surprised we got her that cheap. She had a little something in her ankles and when you go to those sales, if things aren’t perfect people get turned off, but I took a shot.”

Nicolai’s Fortune Farm is currently home to nine broodmares that he regularly breeds to both New York and Kentucky stallions. His top homebred is graded stakes-winner Sue’s Fortune, who won the 2018 Grade 2 Adirondack for trainer Jeremiah Englehart and was awarded Champion New York-Bred 2-Year-Old Filly that year.

“I’m pretty involved in the New York program. I bred to New York stallions War Dancer and Central Banker this year, and I have babies by Mission Impazible,” said Nicolai. “I love the program and everything about it. I get breeders awards and I think at the racetracks do a lot to help us – the way it’s set up is great.”

Song Parody will be ridden by Jose Ortiz from the inside post.

Repole Stable’s Gambling Girl starts for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher from a half-mile breeze in 49.43 on June 17 over Belmont’s dirt training track.

Bred by Gallagher’s Stud, Gambling Girl’s third dam, Felicita, produced multiple graded stakes-winner Take Charge Lady, the blue hen mare that produced Champion 3-Year-Old Will Take Charge, Grade 1 winner Take Charge Indy and Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Take Charge Brandi. Felicita’s first foal was multiple stakes winner Eventail, Gambling Girl’s second dam.

Eventail went on to produce Gambling Girl’s dam, Tulipmania, as well as Strong Southern, who was a Group 3-winner and millionaire in Japan, and Straight Story, a dual graded stakes-winner. Gambling Girl herself is a half-sister to Market Bubble, who finished third in the 2018 Central Park at Aqueduct.

“It’s been great,” said Mallory Mort, longtime manager of Gallagher’s Stud. “We sold Felicita with Take Charge Lady in utero, and we were fortunate to have a sister to her [Eventail]. We were very fortunate to have kept the line. It’s been a good line for us.”

It was Mort who selected Gambling Girl’s sire, Dialed In, for Tulipmania, a process in which he values physical compatibility and pedigree equally.

“I try to match the physicals. This mare isn’t very big but has always produced good size. Dialed In is not really big, but he’s gorgeous,” said Mort. “There’s plenty of size in the pedigree. He’s a nice fit with this mare. He compliments her well.”

Gambling Girl, who sold to Repole for $200,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Preferred New York-Bred Sale, is the eighth named foal from Tulipmania and Mort said she is the most impressive so far.

“She was always from Day One a really nice filly. We’ve sold some pretty expensive fillies out of this mare and she’s the best. She’s always had good size and was very correct and has a great temperament,” said Mort. “Her conformation is excellent and she walks well. She was a good-sized filly and was very correct. If the mare had produced a little more prior to her, I think she’d have brought a lot more money. I thought this was the best horse this mare had produced.”

Mort said seeing the filly in the care of multiple Grade 1-winning connections is exciting.

“It looks like Gambling Girl will be precocious and we have great hopes for her,” said Mort. “Any time you have a filly in the hands she’s in, you’ve got a chance to have something really good.”

Gallagher’s Stud, which welcomed its first thoroughbred residents in 1978, has seen Grade 1 success with Allez Milord in the 1987 Oak Tree Invitational Handicap and top-level placings with horses like Straight Story, Inimitable Romance and Rahys Appeal.

“The New York program is great,” Mort said. “It’s the land of opportunities, especially now with the new $5,000 winner bonus for New York-sired. We’ve done very well with the program and it’s been a very successful and long run.”

Gambling Girl will emerge from post 4 with Flavien Prat in the irons. Saturday’s card features the $100,000 Wild Applause in Race 3 and the Grade 2 Mother Goose in Race 8. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.  

Belmont Park Week 10 stakes probables

Saturday, July 2

G2 John A. Nerud

Probable: Harvard (Rodolphe Brisset), Life Is Good (Todd Pletcher)

Possible: American Power (Rob Atras), Officiating (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), War Tocsin (Uriah St. Lewis)

G2 Dwyer

Probable: Charge It (Pletcher), Nabokov (Chad Brown), No Sabe Nada (D. Scott Peck), Unbridled Bomber (James Ryerson)

Possible: Fluid Situation (John Terranova)

Sunday, July 3

$100K Perfect Sting

Probable:  High Opinion (Anthony Dutrow), Jouster (Pletcher), Love and Thunder (C. Brown), Messidor (Christophe Clement)

Possible: Cheermeister (Arnaud Delacour)

Monday, July 4

$150K Grand Couturier

Probable: British Royalty (Barb Minshall), Channel Maker (Bill Mott), Highest Honors (C. Brown), Red Knight (Mike Maker), Soldier Rising (Clement)

$100K Manila

Probable: Chanceux (Pletcher), Coinage (Mark Casse), Daunt (Robert Ribaudo)

Possible: Affable Monarch (Jorge Duarte, Jr.)

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NYRA Press Office

Trainer Ken McPeek has garnered plenty of knowledge and experience since starting his first runner in 1985. He’s known for his fearlessness when taking a gamble with his horses, like when he sent out Sarava to a shocking 70-1 victory in the 2002 Belmont Stakes for the dark bay’s first try against graded company, and more recently, scored a Grade 1 Preakness victory with upset filly Swiss Skydiver in 2020.