France Go de Ina posts final work for G1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets
by NYRA Press Office
Belmont Stakes contenders gearing up for the “Test of the Champion”
In his final piece of preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, France Go de Ina breezed five furlongs over a fast main track at Belmont Park.
Under mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, Yuji Inaida’s son of third crop sire Will Take Charge took to the track under exercise rider Masaki Takano at 7:30 a.m., and registered his final move for the ‘Test of the Champion’ while running off eighth-mile splits of 13.12, 25.78 and 49.23 before completing his breeze in 1:02.62.
Trainer Hideyuki Mori was on site to watch his two-time winner train for the final leg of the Triple Crown.
France Go de Ina, who was seventh last out in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, shipped to Belmont Park two days following the second American Classic and has been getting acclimated to his new surroundings.
“He moved really well. We were really happy with the work this morning,” Mori said through translator Kate Hunter. “The extra time between this race and shipping in from Japan gives him time to build his body up some more and add condition.”
France Go de Ina will be the first Belmont Stakes starter for Mori, whose first contender in an American Classic dates back to 1995 when Ski Captain finished 14th to Thunder Gulch in the Kentucky Derby.
“I would be very happy to add a Triple Crown race to my portfolio,” Mori said.
Ricardo Santana, Jr. will pilot France Go de Ina from post 5.
Godolphin's Essential Quality, the 2-1 morning-line favorite for the Belmont Stakes and reigning Champion 2-Year-Old Male, visited the Belmont main track for the first time at 5:30 a.m.
Trainer Brad Cox said the four-time graded stakes winner appeared to move well over Big Sandy.
“He stood for a minute and then jogged off the right way and galloped about a mile and three-eighths and he seemed to get over the ground really well,” said Cox. “My assistant, Dustin Dugas, was on him. It went very smooth. Dustin came back and said he's a very smooth-going horse and intelligent. That's what you want to hear from the guy on his back.”
Cox said Essential Quality, who will exit post 2 under Luis Saez on Saturday, will visit the starting gate on Thursday ahead of his regular gallop.
Also visiting the main tack Wednesday morning for Cox was Grade 1, $1 million Hill ‘N’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap contender Knicks Go.
A multiple Grade 1-winner with more than $4.5 million in purse earnings, Knicks Go appeared to relish his daily exercise.
“He has the draw reins on and he's definitely a horse who grabs the bridle and does a little more,” said Cox. “That's him. That's his style. Essential Quality is a little more laid back.”
John and Diane Fradkin’s Rombauer continued preparations for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes when galloping 1 ½-miles over the main track after the break at 8:45 a.m.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, the Grade 1 Preakness-winner will break from post 3 under Hall of Famer John Velazquez in the Belmont.
The son of Twirling Candy shipped to Belmont Park the Monday following his Preakness triumph and has been stabled with trainer Jonathan Thomas.
“He’s been here for nearly three weeks, so nothing is new to him at this point. He’s been settling in nicely,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy, a former assistant to newly minted Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, expressed his appreciation for his time spent under the veteran conditioner.
“If I don’t put the time in there with him, maybe I don’t get to do this,” said McCarthy. “He’s got an incredible amount of responsibility and has a lot going on. It’s nice to follow what they do, even though I’m not there, I always pay attention to what’s going on [with Pletcher’s team].”
Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds' Hot Rod Charlie, trained by Doug O'Neill, also visited the main track after the break under exercise rider Jonny Garcia.
“He got out there and he jogged about five-eighths and galloped a mile and a quarter,” said O’Neill. “It was very similar to what we do back home, but the mile and a half circumference here makes it a little different.”
Hot Rod Charlie, a front-running winner of the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, quickened down the lane.
“Jonny is so good. Once he gets him in that comfortable leg stretch, he doesn't move his hands or ask him for more or try and slow him down,” said O’Neill. “He just lets him be comfortable out there, especially the last part of the gallop. He looked great and did it easy. One day at a time, but so far so good.”
Flavien Prat will pilot Hot Rod Charlie from post 4.
Hronis Racing and David Michael Talla’s Rock Your World, winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April, visited the main track near 7 a.m.
“He went for a routine gallop, about a mile and a quarter. He did it just easy,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to trainer John Sadler. “He's doing well. He's happy. He comes off the track with good energy.”
Rock Your World finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby after a troubled start, but Leyva said the colt is thriving heading into Saturday’s test. The Candy Ride bay posted a bullet 58.40 five-furlong breeze on May 28 at Santa Anita.
“If you saw his work last week, the gallop out was super impressive. He went 1:40 for the mile and he did it all on his own,” said Leyva, a former jockey who guided Musical Romance to victory in the 2011 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint. “He's a big, lanky colt. I don't think the distance will be a problem for him at all.”
Rock Your World will exit post 7 under Joel Rosario.
Sadler will also be represented at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival by Flagstaff in Friday’s Grade 2, $300,000 True North, a 6 ½-furlong sprint for older horses; and by Campaign, who takes a second attempt at the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn presented by Northwell Health, a 12-furlong test for older horses on Belmont Stakes Day, after finishing fourth in 2019.
“Flagstaff is doing great. I think we know he's a seven-furlong specialist but I think the 6 1/2-furlongs is well within his range,” said Leyva. “Campaign ran here two years and he got stuck inside and wasn't able to get through and make his run, but he still finished well. He’s coming into the race well.”
Pletcher sent his trio of Belmont Stakes contenders – Known Agenda, Bourbonic and Overtook, to the main track at 6 a.m. to gallop 1 ½-miles. The veteran conditioner said all are in good order.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from Thursday through Saturday, June 5, culminating with the 153rd running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the "Test of the Champion" for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.
NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont Park, and the best way to bet every race of the 48-day spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.