WinStar Farm, China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing’s undefeated Kentucky Derby (Grade I) and Preakness Stakes (GI) winner Justify galloped 1 ½ miles Saturday morning under regular exercise rider Humberto Gomez as the colt winds down his preparations for the June 9 Belmont Stakes (GI).
“Every day he’s been training well,” trainer Bob Baffert’s assistant Jimmy Barnes said. “He’s just full of energy and happy. We went 1 ½ miles today and it was pretty quiet with just a few horses on the track. He was really professional today.”
Justify is scheduled to gallop Sunday and could breeze Monday with Baffert in town.
“He’ll have one more gallop day tomorrow and I’ll let Bob take over and do his thing,” Barnes said.
Baffert’s other Belmont hope, Wood Memorial (GI) third Restoring Hope, galloped about 1 ½ miles under Gomez.
“Restoring hope is also doing good,” Barnes said. “He galloped well this morning and has been training forwardly.”
While Justify was training Saturday at 7:30 a.m. (all times Eastern), Preakness third-place finisher Tenfold breezed five furlongs in 1:01.60 for trainer Steve Asmussen as he prepares to take on Justify in the Belmont Stakes.
Owned by Ron Winchell’s Winchell Thoroughbreds, Tenfold worked with regular exercise rider Angel Garcia aboard through splits of :12.60, :25.20, :37.20 and :49.20 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 and seven furlongs in 1:28.80, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.
“We were three-quarters of a length from where we needed to be in the Preakness,” Asmussen said. “He’s lightly raced and his best races are ahead of him. I think he deserves the opportunity in the Belmont Stakes. I have nothing but respect for the field, not just Justify. It’s a very respectable field with a lot of ability. I think Tenfold is very talented and getting better at the right time.”
The 3-year-old son of Curlin, out of the Tapit mare Temptress, won his first two starts at Oaklawn Park but ran a subpar fifth in the Arkansas Derby (GI) prior to his Preakness third.
“Distance is well within his capabilities,” Winchell said. “We’ve got it on both sides of his pedigree.”
“I’ve had a lot of success with Curlin and Tapit offsprings,” Asmussen said. “They’ve also done very well in the last four or five runnings of the Belmont Stakes. Even though he’s lightly raced, I think Tenfold is very talented and getting better at the right time.”
In other local Belmont Stakes news, Albaugh Family Stables’ Breeders Futurity (GI) winner Free Drop Billy galloped 1 ½ miles for trainer Dale Romans while Calumet Farm’s Preakness runner-up Bravazo returned to the track following his one-mile breeze in 1:42.60 Thursday and jogged two miles for trainer D. Wayne Lukas.
Only 12 horses have swept the Triple Crown: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978) and, most recently, the Baffert-trained American Pharoah (2015).
The Belmont Stakes field could possibly be comprised of the following 12 horses (with trainer): Bandua (Dermot Weld), Blended Citizen (Doug O’Neill), Bravazo (Lukas), Free Drop Billy (Romans), Gronkowski (Chad Brown), Hofburg (Bill Mott), Justify (Baffert), Noble Indy (Todd Pletcher), Restoring Hope (Baffert), Seahenge (Aidan O’Brien), Tenfold (Asmussen) and Vino Rosso (Pletcher).
To watch Justify’s Saturday gallop and Tenfold’s breeze, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOa5umd7Xdo.
For complementary Belmont Stakes past performances courtesy of Brisnet.com, visit http://www.brisnet.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/BelmontStakes18.pdf.
FANS CAN WATCH JUSTIFY TRAIN IN PERSON OR ONLINE – With unbeaten Triple Crown hopeful Justify and four other possible Belmont Stakes contenders stabled on the grounds, Churchill Downs Racetrack is conducting a special 7:30-7:40 a.m. (all times Eastern) training period for those horses.
Area horse racing fans are invited to watch those colts train from the first floor of the facility free of charge. Churchill Downs Racetrack will open its Paddock Gate entrance between 7-8 a.m. each morning so the public can watch Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Justify along with rivals Bravazo, Free Drop Billy, Restoring Hope and Tenfold prepare for the 1 ½-mile third jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown – the 150th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade I) on Saturday, June 9.
Guests may park free of charge in the Orange and Black Lots outside of the Paddock Gate.
Video of the exercises will be shown on the Big Board and infield video screens at Churchill Downs. Those unable to attend can watch an online live stream of the daily exercises with commentary on the Kentucky Derby Facebook (www.facebook.com/KentuckyDerby), Twitter (www.twitter.com/kentuckyderby) and at www.KentuckyDerby.com/Works from 7:20-7:45 a.m., thanks to TwinSpires.com, the country’s leading online and mobile betting platform and official betting partner of Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Also, clips of the activity will be uploaded on the Kentucky Derby YouTube channel.
KENTUCKY OAKS WINNER MONOMOY GIRL TO BREEZE SUNDAY MORNING AT 7:30 – Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) winner Monomoy Girl is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning at 7:30 during the exclusive training period for Belmont Stakes contenders at Churchill Downs as she winds down her major preparation for the June 9 Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park.
“I still kind of pinch myself about the Oaks,” Cox said. “She’s been training really well each morning and we’re looking forward to running her in another Grade I.”
Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl is expected to breeze with regular jockey Florent Geroux aboard.
RED-HOT KENNEALLY EYES STEPHEN FOSTER NIGHT STAKES FOR PARLOR, SHE’S PRETTY LUCKY – Trainer Eddie Kenneally, who won with 43 percent of his starters through the first 20 days of the 38-day Spring Meet at Churchill Downs (21-9-4-2—$276,474), reported Saturday that he is targeting the $200,000 Wise Dan (Grade II) and $100,000 Regret (GIII) for recent allowance winners Parlor and She’s Pretty Lucky, respectively.
The Wise Dan and Regret are two of five graded stakes events on the June 16 Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser program that also features the $500,000 Stephen Foster Handicap (GI), $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) and $100,000 Matt Winn (GIII). Nominations for all five races close Saturday: https://www.churchilldowns.com/horsemen/stakes/nomination-forms/
“We’ve had a good run lately,” Kenneally said. “I think the allowance races have been really tough this meet. The competition has definitely been showing up for these races.”
Parlor, a 4-year-old by Lonhro (AUS), defeated a field of eight allowance foes on May 13 following a six-month layoff.
“Parlor has proven he can run well over this turf course,” Kenneally said. “I think I’ll give him a shot back in the Wise Dan after that win two weeks ago. He ran hard that day off the layoff.”
She’s Pretty Lucky, a 3-year-old Texas-bred daughter of Lookin At Lucky, scored by one length in a second-level allowance on the undercard of the May 4 Kentucky Oaks.
“She’s Pretty Lucky has been doing really well training,” Kenneally said. “It should be a big night.”
DOWN THE STRETCH – Racing at Churchill Downs continues Saturday with Downs After Dark Presented by Budweiser. Admission gates open for the 11-race program at 5 p.m. with the first post at 6 p.m. The card features a massive $300,000 mandatory partial payout in the 20-cent Single 6 Jackpot. The sequence begins in Race 4 at 7:26 p.m. If there is no single winning ticket in the Single 6 Saturday, there will be a $395,728 jackpot carryover on Sunday’s program. The Saturday card also features the 30th running of the Aristides Stakes (GIII) (Race 10, 10:42 p.m.) and third running of the Mighty Beau (Race 11, 11:10 p.m.). … The podcast of “Inside Churchill Downs” that features Hall of Fame trainers Steve Asmussen and Bill Mott along with TwinSpires.com handicapper Ed DeRosa is available here: https://bit.ly/2rh7Zx1.