News / Videos / Photos

Medal Count Breezes; General a Rod Confirmed for Belmont Stakes

| Churchill Downs Communications | 05/31/2014 #
  • Belmont hope Medal Count, shown in a pre-Kentucky Derby work (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Trainer Mike Maker says General a Rod a go for Belmont. (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

  • Belmont hope General a Rod, shown in a pre-Kentucky Derby work (Reed Palmer, Churchill Downs)

Spendthrift Farm’s Medal Count, eighth-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), breezed six furlongs in 1:10.60 on Saturday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for next Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (GI).

Medal Count, the Dale Romans trainee that hopes to spoil a Triple Crown sweep by California Chrome, recorded fractions of :34.20 and :57.80 under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar.

The 3-year-old son of Dynaformer galloped out seven furlongs in 1:24 and one mile in 1:39.

On hand for the morning work was Spendthrift Farm owner B. Wayne Hughes, with whom Romans discussed the decision of running Medal Count in the Belmont.

“I knew we were meeting Tuesday at Cracker Barrel,” Romans said. “I was thinking of all the reasons I wanted to run him in the Belmont and why it would work. (Hughes) is one of the most intimidating men in the game. I walked in and sat down at the table with my stuff ready to go and he said, ‘When are we shipping?’ I said, ‘Do you want to run there?’ He said, ‘Do you?’ I said ‘Yes’ and he said ‘Run.’ Then we had eggs and talked about economics!

“Coming out of the Derby, I didn’t know what I was going to do with him that day. After a couple days, he got back to training and he was doing so well. I went back and watched the Derby two or three times and he obviously should have been right there. He wasn’t going to beat the winner but I think he could have possibly been second and obviously been third.

“He trains so well and is such a unique horse, the more you do with him the better he gets. I think he could have run back in the Preakness. Then we looked at the schedule of turf races and thought if we were going to do that, we really needed to wait until the big race at Belmont, which isn’t until July 7. That gives us time for one race in between and we can get him another chance at a classic.

“It puts him in the stallion barn if he wins. He’s a son of Dynaformer, so going to stud, he could do a lot for the breed, especially one that can run on dirt. That’s one of the biggest losses with Barbaro because if he could have been saved then we could have put him into the bloodline. I think it would have made it such a more heart bloodline. We need a Roberto-line sire to pick it up and go, and chances are there aren’t that many left.”

Jockey Robby Albarado has been confirmed as the rider for Medal Count. Albarado has been on board for five of the colt’s eight starts, including his win in the Transylvania (GIII) and his runner-up effort in the Blue Grass (GI), both at Keeneland.

Medal Count will ship to Belmont Park on Thursday

GENERAL A ROD WORKS; CONFIRMED FOR BELMONT

Skychai Racing LLC and Starlight Racing’s General a Rod, fourth-place finisher in the Preakness (GI), is heading to the Belmont Stakes after working five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Churchill Downs’ Trackside training facility Saturday morning.

Trained by Mike Maker, General a Rod won the Gulfstream Park Derby in his first start of the year followed by a runner-up effort in the Fountain of Youth (GII) and a third place effort in the Florida Derby (GI) – all at Gulfstream Park. He proceeded to finish 11th in the Kentucky Derby before running fourth in the Preakness.

Maker confirmed that jockey Rosie Napravnik will ride General a Rod in the Belmont, which will be her second consecutive Belmont Stakes mount (she finished sixth aboard the filly Unlimited Budget last year). Maker has saddled only one other Belmont starter in his career, Stately Victor, who finished seventh in the 2010 edition.

“I see no reason not to go,” Maker said. “There was no reason to rush into a decision, in my opinion. We waited it out, and the horse told us to go. I felt good before the Preakness and I feel good before the Belmont. One of these times we’re going to have a clean run and go from there.”

DOWN THE STRETCH

Anita Cauley’s On Fire Baby, winner of the La Troienne (GI) in her last effort, clocked a half-mile in :49.60. Trainer Gary Hartlage said her next start would likely be the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap Presented by Etihad Airways (GII) on June 14 …

Randy Patterson’s Moonshine Mullin, winner of his last four starts including the Alysheba (GII), worked five furlongs in 1:00.40. Trained by Randy Morse, the 6-year-old was clocked in :36.40 after three furlongs and galloped out a sixth furlong in 1:14.80. Morse has indicated that Moonshine Mullin will likely make his next start in the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap Presented by Abu Dhabi (GI) on June 14…

Magic City Thoroughbred PartnersGolden Ticket, runner-up in the Alysheba, was scratched from Saturday’s $200,000 Mountainview Handicap at Penn National and breezed five eighths of a mile in 1:00.60 in company with Flashy American. Conditioned by Kenny McPeek, Golden Ticket recorded splits of :23.80 and :36 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.80. He’s targeting the Foster…

Zayat Stables LLC’s Prayer for Relief, runner-up last out in the Pimlico Special (GIII), posted a :48, half-mile work under exercise rider Tammy Fox for trainer Dale Romans. Prayer for Relief covered a quarter-mile in :24 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.40…

Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Fiftyshadesofhay, winner of the Ruffian (GII) at Belmont Park in her last start, breezed three quarters of a mile in 1:13.60 for trainer Bob Baffert

Also for Baffert, Dennis Cardoza and Mike Pegram’s Shakin it Up, runner up in the Churchill Downs (GII) last out, posted a 1:12, six-furlong work…

Unlimited Equine LLC’s Street Girl, runner-up in the Humana Distaff (GI) in her last start, drilled five furlongs in :59.20 for trainer  Eddie Kenneally. Kenneally has Street Girl pointed to the June 21 $150,000 Bed o’ Roses Handicap at Belmont Park.

Michael Bruder’s Guys Reward, who finished sixth in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI), breezed five furlongs in :59.80 for trainer Dale Romans.

Click here for a PDF copy of Churchill Downs Race Day Notes for Saturday, May 31 containing meet leaders and other statistical information.