May 31, 2020
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Belmont Park Notes 5.31.20

by NYRA Press Office

  • Fauci set for highly-anticipated debut in Opening Day maiden sprint
  • Mystic Guide returns in loaded Thursday allowance tilt at Belmont
  • Come Dancing on course for Grade 3 Vagrancy 
  • Belmont spring/summer Week 1 Stakes probables  

Trainer Wesley Ward will saddle promising 2-year-old Fauci in a five-furlong maiden sprint on Big Sandy set as Wednesday's third race on the Opening Day of the 25-day spring/summer meet, to be contested without spectators, at Belmont Park.

The Malibu Moon colt, a $175,000 purchase at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale, is named for Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health since 1984

Dr. Fauci, one of the world's leading experts on infectious diseases, has played a prominent role on the White House Coronavirus Task Force throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The 79-year-old Fauci is a native of Brooklyn, New York.

Owned by Lindy Farms and Ice Wine Stable [Dave Reid and Frank Antonacci], it was Phillip Antonacci, Frank's son, who selected both the horse and the name for the promising colt.

"Phillip Antonacci purchased the horse at Keeneland," said Ward. "Being of Italian-American descent, and for all the great work that Dr. Fauci's done, they wanted to find a horse, especially in this time, that they could give a high-profile name to and this is the one."

Fauci's second dam, Sun Shower, produced multiple Group 1-winning turfer and $2.6-million earner Excelebration and the millionaire Group 1-winner Lancaster Bomber.

Ward said Fauci has shown speed and ability on both the turf at Palm Meadows and the Keeneland dirt, where he is currently training lights out over the main track.

"He's training unbelievable," said Ward. "He's a bigger colt. He doesn't have a typical speed horse look to him. It looks like he'll go a little further. He has a long stride and is just an athlete. He goes just as fast as you want him to.

"He worked phenomenal on the grass early on down at Palm Meadows," added Ward. "He's equally good, if not a shade better, on the grass. That said, all of his works on the dirt at Keeneland have been eye-openers."

Fauci will emerge from Post 3 under Tyler Gaffalione in a field of six.

Bound for Nowhere, owned and trained by Ward, could be bound for the Grade 1, $250,000 Jaipur presented by America's Best Racing. The six-furlong turf sprint, which offers a berth in the Breeders' Cup Sprint at Keeneland, is set for Belmont Stakes Day June 20.

The 6-year-old son of The Factor has won six-of-13 starts, including scores in the 2018 Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland that garnered a career-best 107 Beyer Speed Figure and a sizzling 4 ¼-length score in an optional-claiming sprint in October 2019 on the Belmont turf that earned a 106 Beyer.

"I'm training him for the Jaipur. He's training outstanding right now," said Ward. "We were going to go to Ascot, but with the Breeders' Cup being in Keeneland this fall I don't want to keep moving him around too much."

The Belmont romp, in which Bound for Nowhere overcame a stumbled start, was on the back of a four-month layoff after an off-the-board effort in the 2019 Group 1 Diamond Jubilee at Ascot.

"He pulled a muscle in England. It took me all summer to get him back right until the fall when he ran a big race at Belmont, but it was just too quick back to the Breeders' Cup," said Ward.

Instead, Ward pointed Bound for Nowhere to the Grade 3 San Simeone on March 21 at Santa Anita where he was a game second, beaten a head, to possible Jaipur rival Cistron.

"He got beat on the line with some trip excuses in the race. He's working really good right now," said Ward.

Ten Broeck Farm's Kimari breezed five eighths in 1:00.60 Saturday on the Keeneland turf.

"She worked well yesterday on the grass at Keeneland and I have her scheduled for the Commonwealth at Ascot," said Ward.

Breeze Easy's Four Wheel Drive, winner of the Grade 2 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint at Santa Anita in November, was undefeated in three starts heading into his seasonal debut in a Churchill Downs allowance on May 17. Off a step slowly in the 5 ½-furlong turf sprint, Four Wheel Drive failed to fire when seventh.

"He has me scratching my head. He came out of the race with no issues. Other than his stutter step at the start, it's hard to find an excuse," said Ward. "You'd think an undefeated Breeders' Cup winner would be able to sit back and make a run, but he didn't. We'll breeze him Saturday on the grass and see if maybe that race tightened him down to where it was a lack of fitness that he didn't have that punch in the last part."

Mystic Guide returns in loaded Thursday allowance tilt at Belmont

Trainer Mike Stidham will saddle the royally-bred Mystic Guide in a Thursday allowance event at Belmont Park that also includes promising sophomores Country Grammer, Basquiat and Famished.

The 1 1/6-mile event is slated as Race 8 on Thursday's card with Brian Hernandez, Jr. retaining the mount on Godolphin's Mystic Guide, a Ghostzapper chestnut out of multiple Group 1-winner Music Note.

Mystic Guide has made two starts at Fair Grounds including a first-out third in a six-furlong sprint in February ahead of a five-length maiden score when travelling 1 1/16-miles on March 21 that earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure.

Stidham said the lightly-raced colt has always shown potential.

"He was a little late coming into us, but he was really touting himself in his works early on. We've liked him from the beginning," said Stidham. "We wanted to run him long first out, but the first race in the book was a mile and an eighth. We decided to give him some education in the six-furlong race and he got shuffled back to last and came running on the outside. He went right to the route in his second start and won well."

The colt was expected to make his seasonal debut in the Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs on May 23, but altered course to avoid a showdown with fellow Godolphin runner Maxfield, who won the event in fine fashion for trainer Brendan Walsh.

Stidham said Thursday's Belmont allowance is a good starting point as Mystic Guide, who is training well at Fair Hill in Maryland, looks to resume his sophomore season.

"We wanted to run him at least a mile and a sixteenth, and we would have preferred two turns, but since he's at Fair Hill this race made sense, rather than shipping him to Churchill," said Stidham.

Stidham said a good result on Thursday could propel Mystic Guide to the Grade 2 Blue Grass on July 11 at Keeneland or the Grade 1 Haskell on July 18 at Monmouth Park.

"If he were to run real big in this race and come out of it good, we would consider the Blue Grass or the Haskell," said Stidham.

Godolphin homebred Alms, a sophomore daughter of City Zip, was undefeated in her first four starts including scores in the Grade 3 Matron in October at Belmont and the Grade 3 Jimmy Durante in November at Del Mar. Last out, making her fifth career start in the one-mile Tepin on May 23 at Churchill Downs, Alms endured a difficult trip when fifth off a three-month layoff from a score in the Shantel Lanerie Memorial in February at Fair Grounds.

"I was a little disappointed. She broke from the way outside and was tucked in and that's not really her best positioning," said Stidham. "I think she's more of a free-running filly and it's better when she can sit in a cleaner spot. She doesn't have to be on the lead, but just in a stalking spot right there. She was checked a bit on the turn, but it was a bit of a trip issue and she'd been off quite a while, so we'll assume she needed the race back and we'll move forward off of that."

Stidham said the Grade 3, $150,000 Wonder Again, a one-mile turf event for sophomores fillies set for Belmont Stakes Day June 20 is the next likely target for Alms.

Pin Oak Stable's Synchrony, a 7-year-old Tapit horse with multiple graded-stakes winning credentials, is likely to make his next start in the Grade 2 Fort Marcy on Saturday, June 6 at Belmont Park.

"He's training really well at Fair Hill," said Stidham. "It's coming up a pretty tough race, but we'll enter and take a look."

Newtown Anner Stud Farm and Mark Breen's Saguaro Row, a five-time winning daughter of Union Rags with scores in the Pumpkin Pie in November and the Interborough in January at the Big A, is enjoying some downtime at the farm.

"She had a good campaign and it was good timing for a freshening for her," said Stidham. "She seems to be a better fall and winter filly, so we wanted to freshen her now and have her ready for next fall. She's a pretty cool filly."

Come Dancing on course for Grade 3 Vagrancy

Blue Devil Racing Stable's Grade 1-winning millionaire Come Dancing is back at Belmont with trainer Carlos Martin following her off-the-board effort in the Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

The 6-year-old Malibu Moon mare won four-of-six starts in 2019 for Martin, including scores in the Grade 1 Ballerina at Saratoga, the Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont Park, and the Grade 3 Distaff at the Big A.

Come Dancing was prepared for her Apple Blossom effort by D. Wayne Lukas and Martin said the talented dark bay was given some time to recuperate before returning to Belmont Park last week.

"We gave her a little respite with Bruce Jackson at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and she was able to hang out there and ride the trails and graze," said Martin. "Fair Hill is like heaven for horses and she was able to enjoy a pit stop there for almost three weeks."

Martin said the freshening has suited Come Dancing, who will be pointed to the Grade 3, $100,000 Vagrancy Handicap, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares slated for June 27 at Belmont.

"She came back five days ago and looks healthy and sound. Bruce did a great job with her," said Martin. "We'll look to give her two or three works before the Vagrancy. We'll have to see how the schedule plays out. She's galloping well right now and is getting back into her routine. She seems like a happy filly."

Florent Geroux was aboard for the last-out route attempt in the Apple Blossom and Martin said he will look to reunite Come Dancing with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, who was aboard for the Ballerina and Gallant Bloom scores.

"We'll get her back to sprinting with Javier and a little home cooking. The Vagrancy is my goal," said Martin. "It was an ambitious spot and she had a lot thrown at her for that race [in the Apple Blossom]. Coming back now, I think having her fresh and happy we'll hopefully see the same old Come Dancing.

"She loves Belmont," continued Martin. "She's had great success there with the Gallant Bloom and the Ruffian last year. I definitely believe in horses for courses."

Belmont spring/summer Week 1 Stakes Probables

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Grade 1, $250,000 Runhappy Carter Handicap (BC)

Probable: Bon Raison (David Cannizzo), Firenze Fire (Kelly Breen), Killybegs Captain (John Terranova), Mind Control (Gregg Sacco), Network Effect (Chad Brown), Nitrous (Steve Asmussen), Performer (Shug McGaughey), Vekoma (George Weaver), 

Possible: American Anthem (Danny Gargan), Nicodemus (Linda Rice), Wicked Trick (Linda Rice)

Grade 2, $150,000 Fort Marcy

Probable: Factor This (Brad Cox), Flop Shot (Brown), Gucci Factor (Christophe Clement), Instilled Regard (Chad Brown), Social Paranoia (Todd Pletcher), Synchrony (Mike Stidham), 

Possible: Devamani (Chad Brown) Digital Age (Brown), Temple (Mike Maker)

Grade 3, $100,000 Westchester

Probable: Backsideofthemoon (Robert Klesaris), Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey), Forewarned (Uriah St. Lewis), Joevia (Gregg Sacco), Mihos (Jimmy Jerkens), Monongahela (Chad Brown), Payne (Chad Brown), Prendimi (Chad Summers)

Possible: Nicodemus (Linda Rice), Majestic Dunhill (George Weaver)

Grade 3, $100,000 Intercontinental

Probable: Eyeinthesky (Mark Casse), Getmotherarose (Tom Bush), JC's Shooting Star (David Donk), Munchkin Money (Christophe Clement), Newspaperofrecord (Chad Brown), Regal Glory (Brown), Rose Flower (Clement), Saratoga Treasure (Donk), Significant Form (Brown), Souper Escape (Mike Trombetta), Viadera (Brown)

Sunday, June 7, 2020

$80,000 First Defence

Probable: Backtohisroots (John Terranova), Blind Ambition (Mark Casse), Delaware (Chad Brown), Hawkish (James Toner), Holiday Stone (Eddie Kenneally), Honor Up (Michelle Nevin), Skyler's Scramjet (Nevin), Somelikeithotbrown (Mike Maker), Therapist (Christophe Clement), Win Win Win (Mike Trombetta)

Possible: Nicodemus (Linda Rice)

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