Samuel F. Henderson’s Suddenbreakingnews, fifth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), began serious preparation for the June 11 Belmont Stakes (GI) with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.60 on Monday with Joe Rocco, Jr. in the irons.
“It looks like with the way he ran in the Derby and with his pedigree the mile-and-a-half distance should suit him well,” trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel said. “It’s one of the few mile-and-a-half races we have left in America so I think we need to go run in it. Pace is always an issue and we’ll have to see how that shapes up, but he can go a mile-and-a-half so we’ll do what we can do.”
Mo Tom, eighth in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in :49 Monday under regular exercise rider Mario Garcia, and is “possible” for the third jewel of the Triple Crown, according to trainer Tom Amoss.
"He is only a possibility, not a probable,” Amoss said. “We’ll make a decision after this weekend. He worked well. It was his first work since the Derby. He showed good energy and came out of it well. You’ll probably see us go again Monday of this week weather permitting and I think we’ll make a decision after that work.”
Creator, 13th in the Kentucky Derby, also is “possible” for the Belmont Stakes, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
Trainer Dale Romans has scheduled a breeze for Brody’s Cause on Saturday.
SPELLING AGAIN BACK FOR MORE IN SATURDAY’S WINNING COLORS – Seajay Racing LLC’s Spelling Again will be spinning back in two weeks following a third-place effort in the May 14 Ruffian (GII) at Belmont Park in Saturday’s $100,000 Winning Colors (GIII),where she is the 3-1 second choice on odds maker Mike Battaglia’s morning line against six others.
"The race is back a little quick but she’s training well, she likes the track and it looks like a great spot,” trainer Brad Cox said. “Anytime you run back in two weeks it can be a concern, but if she wasn’t doing well we would’ve never entered her in the first place. We’re pretty happy with the way that she came out of her last race and what we’ve seen from her training since she shipped back from Belmont. She’s training well, galloping well and we’ll see what happens.”
The Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Awesome Again will be looking for her first victory since winning the Chilukki (GII) last fall at Churchill Downs. She is a perfect 2-for-2 on the Churchill main track.
“Her last three races, she hasn’t won a race but the positive you can take is that we’ve been beaten by horses like Cavorting, Taris and Sheer Drama – three solid, quality Grade I mares,” Cox said. “Not that we’re taking a drop in class because the Winning Colors is a tough race, but it’s probably not quite as strong as the Madison or the Ruffian or even the Go For Wand last fall. But we’re excited about her and we think she’ll show up and run well. She’s two-for-two at Churchill and she bounced out of the Ruffian in good order; we shipped her back and hasn’t missed a beat.
“I think she’s a little better. She can be a little tough to deal with training-wise. She’s a bit of a quirky filly. Sometimes she doesn’t like to start training until she wants to start training, not when the rider is ready to start, but that’s about it.
Cox also discussed plans for his 3-year-old Dazzling Gem, who ran third in Pimlico’s Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard.
"We’re going to look at the ($100,000) Matt Winn (June 18), (GIII, $250,000) Iowa Derby (June 30) and the ($500,000) Ohio Derby (June 25),” Cox said. “He came out of his race at Pimlico in good shape and we’re happy with the way he looks and we’ll just go forward with him.”
The Winning Colors field from the rail out (with jockeys, assigned weights and morning line odds): Fioretti (Sophie Doyle, 122, 15-1), Wrath of Ruthie (Ricardo Santana Jr., 120,, 6-1), Diva Express (Julien Leparoux, 120, 9-2), I’m a Looker (Robby Albarado, 120,6-1), Enchanting Lady (Florent Geroux, 120, 2-1), Spelling Again (Shaun Bridgmohan, 120, 3-1) and Super Saks (Channing Hill, 122, 5-1).
OAKS CONTENDERS DREAM DANCE, TAXABLE MEET AGAIN IN SATURDAY ALLOWANCE RACE – Stoneway Farms’ Dream Dance and Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC’s Taxable, a respective eighth and 14th in the Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) on May 6, will face off once more in Saturday’s eighth race at Churchill Downs, a two-other-than allowance optional claiming event at 1 1/16 miles over the main track.
Neil Howard, trainer of Dream Dance, is using Saturday’s race as a steppingstone to summertime graded stakes for 3-year-old fillies.
“This allowance race was there and we’re looking at some of the 3-year-old filly races about five or six weeks from now so we thought that we would use this,” Howard said.
Potential races that the daughter of Afleet Alex could target include the $200,000 Indiana Oaks (GII) at Indiana Grand Race Course on July 16 and the $200,000 Iowa Oaks (GIII) at Prairie Meadows on June 30.
“Not exactly sure which ones but those kinds of races are what we’re looking at,” Howard said.
Meanwhile, Taxable is looking to rebound off her 14th-place Oaks effort, where she was beaten 23 lengths.
“I think with her draw she never got involved in the race,” assistant trainer Scott Blasi said. “She kind of watched the race instead of ran in it, so hopefully we improve off of that. Anytime you get at the level they’re quality, some of them are dropping out of stakes.”
Dream Dance will be piloted by regular rider Brian Hernandez, Jr., while Ricardo Santana, Jr. returns to the irons aboard Taxable.
ROMANS RELISHES SUCCESSFUL PREAKNESS WEEKEND, DISCUSSES PLANS FOR WEEKEND WARRIORS – Preakness weekend proved to be a successful one for trainer Dale Romans, who saddled one-two finishers Go Maggie Go and Ma Can Do It in the Black Eyed Susan (GII) before his well-meant 3-year-old Cherry Wine finished a late-closing second behind Exaggerator in the Preakness Stakes (GI) the following day.
“I thought that I would win the Preakness,” Romans said. “But we took horses over there knowing that they would do really well and that they were going to run their best if they were good enough and we left there feeling pretty good about everything.”
The son of Tapit’s Preakness effort was one that convinced Romans to point him to the Belmont Stakes (GI) on June 11.
“A mile-and-a-half won’t hurt him, he’ll run all day,” Romans said.
Cherry Wine is owned by a partnership that consists of Frank L. Jones, Jr., who also owned horses trained by Romans’ father Jerry. He also talked of his good relationship with the owners of Go Maggie Go and Ma Can Do It.
“They had horses together forever,” Romans said. “Frank (Jones) has had horses with two trainers: me and him. It makes it much more special and plus the other partners, the Pacellas, are some of my dearest clients and some of my closest friends.
“I have four great clients: Maggie’s owner (Mike Tarp) is one of the best guys I’ve dealt with; Kyle Nagel (owner of Ma Can Do It) has been one of my best friends for 25 years; the Pacellas are some of my closest friends; and then of course there’s Frank. So the owners for those three horses are some of my closest friends that have been with me through thick and thin. I got rid of some toxic environment in my barn that has been pulling me down and stressing me out so I feel like a new person and I’m ready to roll.”
Romans went on to say that Go Maggie Go would point to the $700,000 Acorn (GI) at Belmont Park on June 11. Still a maiden, Ma Can Do It will likely drop back down and face maiden special weight company at Churchill Downs in her next start.
AHH CHOCOLATE FLEUR DE LIS BOUND FOLLOWING PIMLICO TRIUMPH – Stoneway Farms’ Ahh Chocolate will point to the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap (GII) on June 18, following her half-length victory over late-closing Theogony in the Allaire DuPont Distaff (GIII) at Pimlico on May 20.
“Long term, our game plan had been to use that race for the Fleur de Lis here at home,” trainer Neil Howard said. “Obviously she has to do well and come out of the race well, which so far everything looks fine, but the timing is perfect. Between that race (Fleur de Lis) and Maryland is about 28 days, so you got a month between the races. She’s big for a filly and we always thought that time would be on her side maturity-wise and that seems to be the case so far. I thought it was a really, really good effort from her last week.
“It was great, they (Jim Stone and Terri Burch) were so happy. I was happy for them, they’re nice people. They put in a lot of work day in and day out. There’s a lot of time and money and people on these farms and people forget how much goes into getting a horse to the races, much less getting a stakes winner out of it.”
Howard said that Ahh Chocolate would likely return to the work tab around June 1.
Also probable for the Fleur de Lis is 2014 Kentucky Oaks (GI) winner Untapable, according to assistant trainer Scott Blasi.
SPECIAL FIVE-DAY HOLIDAY WEEK OF RACING – With Memorial Day on Monday, Churchill Downs will have a special five-day holiday week of racing (with first race post time, number of races): Thursday (5 p.m., 8 races), Friday (12:45 p.m., 9 races), Saturday (12:45 p.m., 11 races), Sunday (12:45 p.m., 10 races) and Memorial Day Monday (12:45 p.m., 11 races). … The Twilight Thursday abbreviated eight-race program is highlighted by $1 draft beers, food trucks, live music by 80s cover band Radiotronic and a Wagering 101 tent for betting advice. There also is a $412,802 jackpot carryover for the 20-cent minimum Single 6 Jackpot on Races 3-8. … The “Who’s the Champ? Handicapping Contest” returns Sunday. Interested participants can enter for $35 ($30 for TSC Elite members) for a chance to win the $1,000 cash voucher first prize by placing mythical $2 win and place bets on Races 3-8. Second place receives a $500 voucher and third place is worth a $200 voucher. Registration takes place between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the Clubhouse second floor at the top of the Gate 17 escalators. … In celebration of Memorial Day on Monday, all active and retired members of the United States armed forces will be admitted free of charge or receive a discounted ticket to dine on Millionaires Row. Also, Churchill Downs’ bugler Steve Buttleman will perform patriotic melodies following the “Call to the Post” for each race.