Early Voting ‘super’ in final tune up for G1 Preakness Stakes
by NYRA Press Office
- Early Voting ‘super’ in final tune up for G1 Preakness Stakes
- Highland Chief, Easter give Motion two chances at second G1 Man o’ War victory
- Champagne Poetry breezes on turf for G3 Soaring Softly
- Multiple stakes winner Sea Foam returns to training
- Belmont Park Week 4 stakes probables
Under cloudy skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 60s in the Elmont area on Friday morning, Klaravich Stables’ Early Voting put together his final serious preparations for next Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Trained by Chad Brown, Early Voting breezed under jockey Jose Ortiz to the outside of stable mate Miles D. The pair of stakes winners went three-eighths in 36.40 seconds before completing the five furlong move in 1:00.63 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 flat over the fast main track.
“He hit the times just as I wanted and he galloped out super,” Brown said of Early Voting. “If he comes out of the breeze in good shape, then he’s on to Pimlico. Tentatively, I’m thinking of shipping the horse on Tuesday.”
The lightly-raced son of leading second-crop sire Gun Runner will arrive at the Preakness off a narrow defeat in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino on April 9 at Aqueduct, which came following an open-lengths triumph in the Grade 3 Withers two months prior.
Brown and Seth Klarman, proprietor of Klaravich Stables, scored a collaborative victory in the 2017 Preakness Stakes with Cloud Computing, who outdueled 2016 Champion 2-Year-Old Classic Empire in the stretch to give both connections their first win in an American Classic.
Like Cloud Computing, Early Voting also will arrive at the Preakness off the Wood Memorial with only three starts under his belt. Cloud Computing was third in the 2017 Wood Memorial finishing seven lengths behind Irish War Cry.
“There’s a lot of similarities,” Brown said. “They both are lightly-raced, improving horses that are coming out of the Wood and could use a little more time and experience rather than throw them into a 20-horse field in the Derby.”
Peter Brant and Robert V. LaPenta’s Miles D also is slated for a trip to Maryland next weekend and will point to the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3, $300,000 Pimlico Special next Friday.
The 4-year-old son of Curlin has made one start this year, finishing third to multiple graded stakes winner Olympiad in the Grade 3 Mineshaft on February 19 at Fair Grounds Race Course. Last year, he finished second in his Hall of Fame sire’s namesake race at Saratoga en route to a third-place finish in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers the following month. He capped off his sophomore campaign with a victory over Speaker’s Corner in the Discovery on November 17 at Aqueduct.
“Miles D worked inside, he’s actually a little better outside, but it set it up that way today,” said Brown, who won the 2013 Pimlico Special with Last Gunfighter. “He got a lot of the work this morning. He missed a little time because he got sick before the Oaklawn Handicap, so we missed that race. He should appreciate the distance of the Pimlico Special.”
A $470,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Miles D is out of the Bernardini mare Sound the Trumpets, a half-sister to 2002 Champion 2-Year-Old Filly Storm Flag Flying. Her respective second and third dam are 1995 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner My Flag and undefeated Hall of Famer Personal Ensign.
Also on the work tab for Brown this morning were Juddmonte’s Masen and Klaravich Stables’ Unanimous Consent, who breezed five furlongs in company in 1:02 over the inner turf.
Masen, a son of Kingman, was a close second in his North American debut for Brown in the last out Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland and will likely point to the $100,000 Seek Again on May 21 with the Grade 3, $250,000 Poker on June 18 as a backup.
“I just want to keep him at a mile right now and the race is there,” Brown said. “If I don’t run him there, I’ll rest him and train him up to the Poker next month.”
Bred in Great Britain by his owners, Masen is out of the Smart Strike mare Continental Drift, whose dam was 2005 Champion Turf Mare Intercontinental.
Brown said he will point Unanimous Consent, the undefeated winner of the last out Woodhaven at Aqueduct, to the Grade 2, $200,000 Pennine Ridge on June 4 at Belmont Park.
Klaravich Stables color bearers Consumer Spending and Technical Analysis breezed together through five furlongs in 1:01.60 over the inner turf course.
Consumer Spending, who defeated Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Pizza Bianca in the last out Memories of Silver on April 24 at the Big A, will point to the Grade 2, $200,000 Wonder Again on June 9 at Belmont Park. Brown previously won the nine-furlong test with Lady Eli , New Money Honey  and Cambier Parc .
Technical Analysis, a 4-year-old daughter of Kingman, will likely target the Grade 3, $250,000 Gallorette on Pimlico’s Preakness undercard next Saturday. Brown has won three runnings of the Gallorette, the first of which came with Zagora in 2012, who won that year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.
Grade 1-placed Distinctlypossible, who captured her maiden win going two turns at Keeneland last out, will target the Grade 2, $250,000 Black Eyed Susan on May 20 at Pimlico. The sophomore Curlin filly finished second to Juju’s Map in last year’s Grade 1 Alcibiades at Keeneland before arriving off a six-month layoff in style in her last out win on April 10. She is owned by Bradley Thoroughbreds, Gary Finder, Belmar Racing and Breeding, Tim Cambron, Anna Cambron and Team Hanley.
Brown made two trips to the winner’s circle on Thursday at Belmont, including with Jeff Drown’s New York-bred Key Point, who made his second start off the layoff a winning one. The Into Mischief homebred stretched out to seven furlongs stylishly, with a 6 1/2-length victory against fellow state-bred winners over the main track. The impressive score registered a 95 Beyer.
“He performed well at seven yesterday and he gave me the impression that he would stretch out further and I’m looking forward to get him going longer,” Brown said.
Key Point is out of Polite Smile, a half-sister to graded stakes winner American Anthem, and her granddam Indy’s Windy is a half-sister to 1998 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Banshee Breeze.
Highland Chief, Easter give Motion two chances at second G1 Man o’ War victory
Highland Chief and Easter are vying to become the first horse since Better Talk Now in 2005 to give trainer Graham Motion a win in the Grade 1, $700,000 Man o’ War on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Motion, a four-time Breeders’ Cup winning conditioner, sent out the Kentucky-bred Better Talk Now to a determined neck victory in the 2005 Man o’ War as the 3-1 favorite in the field of 11. This year, Motion brings European interest to the race with two outsiders in Madaket Stables’ French-bred Easter and Mrs. Fitriani Hay’s British-bred Highland Chief.
Highland Chief and Easter both enter from allowance optional claiming efforts in April at Aqueduct Racetrack. They finished ninth and third, respectively, after difficulty at the start.
“Both these horses I ran with this race in mind because of their European form. They shouldn’t be too far behind these horses,” Motion said. “I think they both needed that first start over here and were quite slow from the gate. I think it took them out of the game a little on that turf course and I think they’ll both appreciate more distance and Belmont.”
Highland Chief, a multiple group placed son of Gleneagles, finished second in the 2020 Group 2 Great Voltigeur at York for trainer Paul Cole. He made his American debut with his troubled ninth-place finish on April 14. The 5-year-old bay broke slowly in the 1 1/16-mile race and tracked in last-of-12, swinging three-wide in the turn and putting in a mild bid to finish 5 1/4 lengths behind winner Flop Shot.
Motion said he thought more of the effort than how it appears on paper.
“Highland Chief broke a step slow and got knocked around a bit,” Motion said. “I thought he ran pretty well to be honest. The PPs might not do justice to how well he ran. I think it was quite tough to make up ground on that turf course at Aqueduct. It was a little speedy and quite firm.”
Easter, a French-bred son of Exosphere, earned a stakes placing at Saint Cloud in his native France with a runner-up effort in the 2021 Prix Omnium II for trainer Fabrice Chappet. He made his American debut in an April 15 allowance where he missed the break, went four-wide in the turn and put in a rally down the lane to come up 1 1/2 lengths shy in third.
Easter will make his first start beyond 1 1/4 miles when he takes on the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War on Saturday, a change that Motion said could make the difference for the 4-year-old gelding.
“I don’t know that this is what he wants to do, but I have a suspicion that it might be,” Motion said. “He trains pretty forwardly in the morning and we gelded him when he came over from Europe.”
Motion said both horses have shown to him that they are on the verge of replicating their top European form in the states as they prepare to take on a field led by reigning Champion Turf Male Yibir and multiple Grade 1-winner Gufo.
“Highland Chief is quite a nervous horse, so it’s a little hard to gauge his works because he does them so nervously,” Motion said. “But Easter’s works have been quite impressive in the morning – they’re going to need to be to compete with these horses. It’s a good opportunity at the beginning of the year to kind of find out where we’re at.”
Easter will exit the inside post under Flavien Prat while Highland Chief will leave post 5 under Trevor McCarthy. Both horses are assigned 118 pounds.
Motion also noted that graded stakes winner English Bee, who is nominated to the $100,000 Seek Again on May 21 at Belmont, will likely target a start in the Grade 2 Dinner Party the same day at Pimlico Race Course on the Preakness undercard.
Champagne Poetry breezes on turf for G3 Soaring Softly
Jonathan Hardoon's stakes-placed Champagne Poetry worked over the inner turf Friday with an eye towards the Grade 3, $100,000 Soaring Softly, a seven-furlong turf sprint for sophomore fillies on May 28 at Belmont Park.
Trained by Chad Summers, Champagne Poetry breezed a bullet half-mile solo under Luis Saez in 49.66 seconds over the firm going.
"I thought it was OK. Luis said he liked what he felt underneath him," Summers said. "We'll aim for the race on May 28 going seven-eighths and see how it comes up."
The Carpe Diem bay, out of the Colonel John mare C J Oz, launched her career on turf, finishing a closing third in a six-furlong maiden special weight in December at Aqueduct Racetrack. She switched to the main track for her next two starts at the Big A, graduating by a neck traveling six furlongs on January 13 ahead of a narrow nose defeat to Shotgun Hottie in the seven-furlong Ruthless on February 6.
Champagne Poetry shipped to Turfway Park last out for the 1 1/16-mile Bourbonette Oaks on April 2 but didn't handle the synthetic surface finishing last-of-12.
"She hated the Polytrack. We got her there too close to the race and just jogged her and she just didn't like it," Summers said.
Truth Hurts, owned by Summers and J Stables, has been retired and is currently on offer as Hip 13 in the Fasig-Tipton May Digital Selected Sale.
The 5-year-old Tonalist mare, bred in Ontario by William D. Graham, posted a record of 16-4-1-2 with purse earnings of $302,595. She captured an off-the-turf edition of the Perfect Sting on July 21 at Belmont and added a division of the Pumpkin Pie to her ledger in October. Truth Hurts picked up graded black type with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap in December at the Big A.
Summers has added Maitha Salem Mohammed Belobaida Alsuwaidi's Group 3-winning sprinter Meraas to his roster. The 5-year-old Oasis Dream gelding, who sports a leger of 14-5-1-1, was guided to victory by jockey Antonio Fresu in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint in February at Meydan Racecourse for conditioner Musabbeh Al Mheiri.
Meraas was scratched from the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen in March and has since shipped stateside. Summers, who won the Dubai Golden Shaheen in successive years in 2017-18 with New York-bred multi-millionaire Mind Your Biscuits, said he is aiming to have Meraas legged up for a summer campaign.
"Meraas is a really nice horse and I'm thankful for the opportunity that Maitha and her family have given to me. We're giving him some time on the farm after that long trip from Dubai," Summers said. "That's worked well for us with ‘Biscuits’ in the past. He should be up in a couple weeks and we'll probably point for an allowance race at Saratoga."
Meraas made his first 12 starts on either grass  or synthetic , but found rejuvenated form when trying the Meydan dirt, besting a field of 11 by 4 3/4-lengths in December while carrying 137 pounds.
"He's all sprinter. He's a smaller build with a huge engine on him," Summers said. "He came over to Dubai and they put him on the dirt and he won impressively first time out carrying 137 pounds. He won the Group 3 wire-to-wire and Antonio Fresu, a good friend of mine, was a big fan of him and might even come over to ride him when we run him."
Multiple stakes winner Sea Foam returns to training
Trainer Michelle Giangiulio was pleased to welcome back multiple stakes winner Sea Foam to her barn in early April after a four-month winter vacation. The 7-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro was last seen winning the Alex M. Robb in frontrunning fashion on December 31 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“I missed him; he’s such a cool horse,” said Giangiulio. “He didn’t look any different when he came in. He had a little turnout at Fair Hill. We’re getting closer [to a breeze] and he just started galloping, so we are in no hurry. He probably won’t run until Saratoga, but we’ll see how things go. So far, so good.”
Owned by Ten Strike Racing, Four Corners Racing Stable, Broadview Stables and Cory Moelis Racing, Sea Foam came into Giangiulio’s care in July when he was haltered for $45,000 out of a winning effort at Saratoga Race Course. Giangiulio wheeled the dark bay back in the Evan Shipman two weeks later where he earned his conditioner the first victory of her career.
Sea Foam went on to finish out the year with a third-place effort in the Empire Classic Handicap at Belmont Park over a sloppy and sealed main track before returning to the winner’s circle in the Alex M. Robb, gamely defeating Danny California by a half-length.
Giangiulio said she had initially wanted to keep Sea Foam in training over the winter, but gave him some time off after he experienced a bleeding episode while training for Laurel Park’s John B. Campbell, which was run on February 19.
“I had pointed him towards the John B. Campbell, but he bled a little bit in the breeze before so I said, ‘no,’” Giangiulio said. “It wasn’t major, but it wasn’t worth it. So, we gave him a few months off and he was spoiled all winter.”
Giangiulio said Sea Foam, who is known for being high-spirited, is back to his usual intensity on the racetrack.
“He’s pretty tough. As soon as we started galloping, he just wants to race and go strong,” Giangiulio said, with a laugh. “I want him to go easy but he’s always like that. It’s good to see he hasn’t changed at all. He’s so classy. I wish I had a whole barn full of horses like him.”
The New York-bred Sea Foam started his career with trainer Christophe Clement and owner/breeder Waterville Lake Stables. He earned three other stakes victories in the Notebook as a juvenile and the New York Derby and Albany as a sophomore. Sea Foam boasts a lifetime record of 26-10-3-3 and earnings of $774,745. He is out of the graded-stakes winning Unbridled's Song mare Strike It Rich, who captured the 2010 Grade 3 Boiling Springs for Clement.
Belmont Park Week 4 stakes probables
Saturday, May 21
$100K Seek Again
Probable: Duke of Hazzard (Wesley Ward), Wolfie's Dynaghost (Tom Albertrani)
Possible: Advanced Strategy (Philip Antonacci), Masen (Chad Brown), Proven Strategies (Mark Casse)