NYRA RELEASE —-
Oscar Performance puts in final breeze ahead of G1 Joe Hirsch
Pletcher contingent gears up for next two Saturdays at Belmont
Frostmourne headlines turf work stakes contenders for Clement
Seymourdini back at Belmont, could return in G3 Bold Ruler
Off Limits in fine fettle; Brown readies turf contingent for fall stakes
G1 Man o’ War heroine Zhukova to arrive Tuesday for Super Saturday assignment; Fields coming together for weekend stakes
ELMONT, N.Y. – Multiple Grade 1 winner Oscar Performance put in his final breeze before Saturday’s Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, going five furlongs in 1:01.66 with dogs up on Belmont Park’s inner turf track Sunday morning.
The Amerman Racing homebred has three wins in his three starts in his 3-year-old campaign, winning the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational before capturing the Grade 1 Secretariat on August 12 at Arlington.
Trainer Brian Lynch said Oscar Performance has been impressive in his works leading up to the 1 ½-mile Joe Hirsch on the Widener turf. With regular rider Jose Ortiz recovering from injuring his knee in a spill on Wednesday, Irad Ortiz, Jr. worked Oscar Performance solo in his third work at Belmont since his 2 ¼-length score in the Secretariat.
“He had a good, sharp work the week before and today we just gave him a comfortable five-eighths and he did it very nicely,” Lynch said. “We’re real happy with the way he’s coming into the race. We’ll answer the questions of ‘Can he get the mile and a half and will he be competitive against older horses?’ We’ll be able to tick off a couple of boxes after this one.”
As a 2-year-old, Oscar Performance won the Grade 3 Pilgrim and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. He struggled at the start of his 2017 campaign, running fifth in the Grade 3 Transylvania before a 10th-place effort in the Grade 2 American Turf on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Since then, the son of Kitten’s Joy has been undefeated.
“I’ve seen the maturity in race-day antics,” Lynch said. “When he was younger, he could get a little hot and could be a bit flighty in the post parade. Now, he takes it all in stride and has gotten a lot more professional. I’ve seen a lot of seasoning coming his way and maturing into a nice, late 3-year-old, and I think he’s ready to take on older horses.”
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Coal Front outkicked a hard-charging American Pastime to win the Grade 3 Gallant Bob on Saturday at Park Racing, but trainer Todd Pletcher said the victory in the six-furlong race on Pennsylvania Derby Day included a setback.
“I thought he ran well, unfortunately he came out of it with a condylar fracture in his right front,” Pletcher said. “He’ll have surgery tomorrow. We’re optimistic he can come back well from it. Obviously, we’ll know more after the surgery.”
The 3-year-old Stay Thirsty colt won his first stakes start at Saratoga Race Course, winning the Grade 2 Amsterdam on July 29 before running fifth in the Grade 1 H. Allen Jerkens on August 26. Coal Front has four wins in five starts.
Pletcher said Keen Ice and Destin came out of their breezes Saturday in good order in preparation for the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on October 7 as part of Super Saturday at Belmont.
Keen Ice and Destin, Pletcher’s two definite Gold Cup starters, breezed five furlongs in 1:00.97 in company on Belmont’s training track.
Keen Ice, who won the Grade 2 Suburban on July 8 before finishing second to Gun Runner in the Grade 1 Whitney last out on August 5, has put in three works on Belmont’s training track since shipping from Saratoga.
Destin, the 2016 Grade 1 Belmont Stakes runner-up, will be returning to stakes company after back-to-back races against allowances company since a nearly nine-month layoff following a ninth-place finish in the 2016 Grade 1 Travers.
“He’s getting gradually better with a couple of races under his belt,” Pletcher said. “He’s run well at Belmont in the past and the mile and a quarter suits him well, so he looks like he’s coming along the right way.”
Pletcher said that Rally Cry is also a possibility for the Gold Cup. After a runner-up finish in the Grade 1 Woodward on September 2, the 4-year-old son of Uncle Mo has been training at Saratoga, breezing four furlongs in 50.03 seconds on the Oklahoma training track Saturday.
Maraud, who won his debut on September 2 at the Spa, will make his first stakes start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim on September 30, Pletcher said. The trainer said the juvenile Blame colt has been training well at Saratoga, breezing Friday on the Oklahoma turf track.
Seabhac, who won his debut on August 5 at the Spa before running fourth in the Grade 3 With Anticipation on August 30, could also be a possibility for the Pilgrim.
“We had originally planned to go to Keeneland with Seabhac, but it sounds as if he might not get in if the race oversubscribes, which it sounds like it will, so we might switch gears and come here,” Pletcher said about the colt owned by Donegal Racing.
Orbolution, coming off back-to-back wins, including a victory in the P.G. Johnson on August 31, breezed four furlongs in 50.77 seconds Sunday over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track as she gets ready to make her first graded stakes start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo on October 1.
Eskenformoney, who has finished on the board in her last three starts, including a third-place effort in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 26, is still on target to run in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame on Saturday, Pletcher said.
Hazit, an impressive maiden winner on August 26, will make the step up to stakes company in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds on Super Saturday. Mojovation could also be entered in that race or the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on the same day.
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Green Lantern Stables’ multiple graded stakes winner Frostmourne visited the turf course on Sunday for trainer Christophe Clement as the 3-year-old breezed four furlongs in 48.05 seconds, working in company with stablemate Dover Cliffs.
Slated for a start in the Grade 3, $500,000 Hill Prince on October 7, the son of Speightstown has two wins in three starts this year with victories in the Grade 2 Penn Mile on June 3 at Penn National and the Grade 3 Kent on July 15 at Delaware Park.
“It was a nice work,” said Clement. “He came back good from it and the plan is to go to the Hill Prince from here.”
World record holder for six furlongs on the turf in this year’s Jaipur Invitational, Disco Partner, will cut back in distance and is aiming for a start in the six-furlong $150,000 Belmont Turf Sprint Invitational on October 7. The 5-year-old Patricia Generazio homebred, who finished fourth last time out at a mile in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap on August 12, breezed four furlongs in 48.27 on the turf course.
“He worked very well this morning so I’m happy,” said Clement. “Unfortunately, last time out he didn’t take to the soft going in the Fourstardave, but he’s been training forwardly since that race.”
Clement said Pure Sensation, also owned and bred by Generazio and the half-length winner of the Grade 3 Turf Monster on September 4 at Parx Racing, will train over the main track this week as the connections decide whether to run in the Belmont Turf Sprint or train up to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on November 4 at Del Mar.
The 2-year-old Best Performance for West Point Thoroughbreds, Tango Uniform Racing and Robert Masiello, who most recently finished second in the Juvenile Fillies on September 6 at Kentucky Downs is under consideration to run in the Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo or the Grade 3 Jessamine at Keeneland.
Oak Bluff Stables’ undefeated 2-year-old Therapist is next under consideration for Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim or the $100,000 Awad on October 28.
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Irish Smith Stable’s stakes winner Seymourdini put in his first local work since arriving from Saratoga Race Course, turning in a six-furlong breeze over the Belmont training track Sunday morning as the 4-year-old Bernardini ridgling prepares for a return to the races this fall.
An impressive 10 ½-length winner of the State Dinner last time out on July 3, Seymourdini covered the distance in 1:15.25. Prior to Sunday’s move, the Linda Rice trainee worked twice in September at Saratoga, most recently a five-furlong move in 1:00.01 over the main track on September 12.
“He’s coming along pretty well,” said Rice. “He’s getting there. I stopped on him after that race and gave him a little bit of time off so he’s had two breezes up there about 10 days [apart] and this one. He’s doing well. I’m happy with his breezes, I’ve just got to figure out where I’m going to go with him.”
Rice said Seymourdini is likely to breeze again in another 10 days as he resumes a regular training regimen following an easy summer schedule. She added that the Grade 3, $200,000 Bold Ruler Handicap at seven furlongs on October 28 is a possible target while the Grade 1, $750,000 Cigar Mile remains the year-end goal.
Barry K. Schwartz’s Voodoo Song also breezed Sunday morning, covering five furlongs over the inner turf in an easy 1:02.02, his first timed move since posting a neck victory in the Grade 3 Saranac on September 2 at Saratoga Race Course.
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Picking up her first graded stakes win and third victory from four starts this year in yesterday’s Grade 3 Noble Damsel with Irish-bred Off Limits for owner Martin Schwartz, trainer Chad Brown reported the 5-year-old returned from the race in good order.
“She ran extremely well,” said Brown. “She’s had a really good year this year. We’ve just been really patient with her and let her come around and now we’ve seen the best of her.
Overlooking a bevy of stakes contenders on the turf this morning, Brown was pleased with a number of works from his stable pointing for stakes this fall.
Heading into next Saturday’s Grade 1 Joe Hirsch, multiple graded stakes winner Beach Patrol, who last out won the Grade 1 Arlington Million worked in company with Million runner-up Fanciful Angel, who was transferred to Brown after that race. The pair breezed five furlongs on the turf in 1:00.20 with dogs up.
“They each looked great,” said Brown. “They both remain on target for the Joe Hirsch.”
Following a fifth-place finish while trying dirt for the first time in the Grade 1 Alabama on August 19 at Saratoga, multiple graded stakes winner New Money Honey breezed five furlongs on the turf in 1:00.60 and would next point for the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth at Keenland according to Brown.
“She was terrific,” said brown. “I’m really happy with her.”
Multiple graded stakes winner Roca Roja worked in company with Rymska, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.66 for starts in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland and Commonwealth Oaks at Laurel Park, respectively.
Lastly, Brown reported that Time Test, who worked four furlongs in 49.49, would be pointing for the Grade 1 Shadwell Mile, while multiple graded stakes winner Lady Eli put in a maintenance half-mile work on the dirt in 48.88 and remained on target for Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
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Top Irish trainer Dermot Weld will bring some international flair to the Belmont Fall Championship Meet with a pair of nominees for the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, topped by John D. Murrell’s Zhukova.
Zhukova, a 5-year-old Irish-bred mare by Fastnet Rock, will return to the site of her biggest career win to date, when she got the best of her male competition and drew off to a six-length victory in the Grade 1 Man o’ War on May 13.
She is also expected to be among the nominees for the Grade 1, $500,000 Flower Bowl on Sunday, October 8, which will be released later Sunday.
Since the Man o’ War, Zhukova finished fourth against fillies and mares in the Group 1 Pretty Polly at the Curragh in July and eighth of 10 against open company in the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes on September 9 at Leopardstown.
Scheduled to arrive from Europe on Tuesday afternoon, Zhukova will be joined on the flight by Frank Gillespie’s Irish Group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby, who is also nominated for the Joe Hirsch.
Saturday, September 30, 2017:
Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic: “Win and You’re In” Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf division
Probable:Beach Patrol (Chad Brown); Channel Maker (Bill Mott); Erupt (Graham Motion); Fanciful Angel (C. Brown); Highland Sky (Barclay Tagg); Hunter O’Riley (Jimmy Toner); Money Multiplier (C. Brown); Oscar Performance (Brian Lynch); Sadler’s Joy (Tom Albertrani)
Possible: The Grey Gatsby (Dermot Weld); Zhukova (Weld)
Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame:
Probable: Elate (Mott); Eskenformoney (Pletcher); Money’soncharlotte (Kelly Breen); Verve’s Tale (Tagg)
Possible: Bishop’s Pond (Jason Servis); Line of Best Fit (Kieron Magee); Martini Glass (Keith Nations)
Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh: “Win and You’re In” TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint division
Probable: El Deal (Jorge Navarro); Green Gratto (Gaston Grant); Mr. Crow (Pletcher); Stallwalkin’ Dude (David Jacobson); Takaful (Kiaran McLaughlin); Weekend Hideaway (Phil Serpe)
Possible: Favorite Tale (Guadalupe Preciado)
Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim:
Probable: Desert Stone (Rudy Rodriguez); Evaluator (Michael Dilger); Maraud (Pletcher); Morrison (Joe Sharp); Phone Funky Munky (David Donk)
Possible: Seabhac (Pletcher); Stolen Pistol (Sharp); Voting Control (C. Brown)
Sunday, October 1, 2017:
Grade 3, $200,000 Miss Grillo:
Probable: Africa (C. Brown); Bramble Queen (Michael Dini); Codrington (Donk); Life Time Citizen (Serpe); Orbolution (Pletcher); Significant Form (C. Brown); Thewayiam (Motion)
Possible: Southampton Way (Horacio DePaz)
$200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational:
Probable: Archanova (Ian Wilkes); Madefromlucky (Pletcher); Scuba (Brendan Walsh); Testosterstone (Gary Sciacca)
Possible: Turco Bravo (David Cannizzo)