Belmont Park Notes - May 2
By NYRA Press Office | 05/02/2014 03:11 PM ET
Grade 1 winner Havana to make 3-year-old debut on Sunday in Gold Fever; addition of blinkers has Drosselmeyer entrant Micromanage in top form
Canadian marathoner ships in to Belmont for Drosselmeyer
Last year's Grade 1 Champagne winner Havana makes his much anticipated 2014 debut on Sunday at Belmont Park in the $100,000 Gold Fever overnight stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. The son of Dunkirk also finished second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile for trainer Todd Pletcher.
"Timing wise it worked out," said Pletcher's assistant, Byron Hughes. "His progression into this year fit into this weekend. He was in Florida most of the winter, then came up to [New York] and he's been doing everything great so far. I've seen a steady progression in his breezes - they've been getting better and better. He loves to train."
Havana will take on the Bob Baffert-trained The Admiral on Sunday, who finished fourth in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct Racetrack last out, as well as
Pure Sensation, who finished third behind Extrasexyhippzster and Oliver Zip in the Don Rickles.
Havana and The Admiral will be coupled in the wagering as they are both owned by Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith.
Pletcher will send out another stakes runner on Sunday as Mike Repole's Micromanage will take on a field of seven in the Drosselmeyer overnight stakes for older horses at 1 ¼ miles. The son of Medaglia d'Oro turned in a career-best performance in the 1 3/16-mile, Grade 3 Skip Away at Gulfstream Park, his first start equipped with blinkers.
"We put blinkers on him in the [Skip Away], and I think that was the biggest difference for him," said Hughes. "He seemed to really benefit from them; he was a lot more focused. He shipped up here [after the Skip Away] and has been training great up here, as well. If he puts in the same effort he did last time, he can absolutely compete with some of the top older horses."
Rarely do horses cut back in distance to 1 ¼ miles, but that will be the case for marathoner Quaesitor on Sunday when he competes in the $100,000 Drosselmeyer overnight stakes at Belmont Park.
Quaesitor has found his niche competing in long-distance races over Woodbine's Polytrack and on Sunday will be making his first start since posting a three-length win in the Grade 3, 1 ¾-mile Valedictory in December. He entered the Valedictory off allowance victories traveling 1 ½ miles in August and 1 5/8 miles in November.
Ian Howard, who trains Quaesitor for Wayward Stable, said the Drosselmeyer is a good return spot for the 5-year-old as it is a rare race at 1 ¼ miles and could help them gauge his ability to run on dirt.
"He's a horse who wants at least a mile and a quarter," said Howard. "There aren't any opportunities [at Woodbine] until August, so we're going to run him in a dirt race. He trains on the dirt [on Woodbine's training track] and trains good. If he can transfer his form to dirt he'll have a good shot."
In his lone previous start on dirt, Quaesitor was fourth in 2012 in the middle jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown series, the Princes of Wales at Fort Erie.
"He's a better horse since then," said Howard.
Howard added that Quaesitor could return to Belmont for the Grade 2, $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational on Belmont Stakes Day, Saturday, June 7.
Gerry Olguin, aboard Quaesitor in his past three starts, will fly in from Toronto to ride the gelded son of Friends Lake on Sunday.