Thomas and Jack Conway’s Stately Victor, winner of the Toyota Blue Grass (Grade I) at Keeneland and eighth to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), tuned up for a run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes (GI) with a sharp five-furlong workout on Tuesday at Churchill Downs’ Trackside Louisville training center.
Mike Maker-trained son of Ghostzapper zipped over a fast track to cover the five furlongs in :59.40 in the only work at that distance over the six-furlong oval. Exercise rider Derrick Smith was in the saddle as the 3-year-old colt worked in fractional times of :11.60, :22.80, :34.20 and :46.80 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.20.
Maker timed the work a bit slower on his stopwatch, but was happy with the effort by Stately Victor. He said the Conway colt would ship to New York’s Belmont Park on Thursday for final preparations for the 1 ½-mile concluding jewel of the Triple Crown.
“Time doesn’t mean anything to us, it doesn’t mean anything in the race,” Maker said. “He’s happy and he did it the way he always works, so we’re pleased.”
Like many in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, Stately Victor was bounced around a bit during the 1 ¼-mile opening jewel of the Triple Crown. But Maker said the colt returned to the track on schedule and has done well since.
He got whacked around, but other than that he came out of it well,” Maker said. “He hasn’t missed a bite of grain and hasn’t lost a pound.”
Stately Victor is scheduled to complete his serious preparation for the Belmont Stakes with a Tuesday work over the sprawling 1 ½-mile Belmont oval.
“Hopefully we’ll draw an outside post, just slap him on cruise control and grind it out,” Maker said. “I thought he ran a credible race in the Derby and I think you throw him out at your own risk. Compared to some of the other horses, if he fires his Blue Grass race back, he’s going to be competitive. I think if he runs his Derby race back, he’s going to be competitive.”
Some trainers head to Belmont Park early to help their horses adapt to the massive surface that has been nicknamed “The Big Sandy” over the years. While Maker wants Stately Victor to get a race over the surface, he has no worries about the colt’s ability to handle the racing surface at Belmont.
"Actually, I think the track’s going to favor him just because he’s a great big horse,” Maker said. “We’re training on the littlest track and going to the biggest one.”
Maker is hoping for a pace scenario that would allow jockey Alan Garcia to lay closer to the leaders than the sizzling pace delivered by Conveyance and Sidney’s Candy in the Kentucky Derby.
“Hopefully the two ‘Dudes’ (Preakness runner-up First Dude and GIII Lone Star Derby winner Game On Dude) will duke it out and we’re not too far behind,” he said.
Stately Victor will bring a career record of 2-1-0 in nine races with earnings of $493,213 into the Belmont Stakes.
WORK TAB (Track: FAST) – Tidal Pool, third to Blind Luck in the Kentucky Oaks (GI), breezed a half-mile in :48.40 for trainer D. Wayne Lukas … (Turf: FIRM, dogs up) – Mrs. Revere (GII) and Regret (GIII) winner Keertana breezed five furlongs in 1:02.20 … El Camino Real Derby (GIII) winner Connemara breezed five furlongs in 1:02.80 for trainer Todd Pletcher … Silverbulletday (GIII) winner Jody Slew, 13th in the Kentucky Oaks, breezed four furlongs in :49.60. … Wise River breezed four furlongs in :49.20.