by NYRA Press Office
Bloom Racing Stable's Henley's Joy kicked off the Turf Trinity with a rousing score in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on Saturday at Belmont Park.
Trained by Mike Maker for Bloom Racing Stable, Henley's Joy rated in third position in the 10-furlong test on the inner turf and showed good acceleration down the lane under leading rider Jose Lezcano to secure the three-quarter length win.
Henley's Joy, a chestnut son of Kitten's Joy, was in good order on Sunday morning.
"He came back great," said Nolan Ramsey, assistant to Maker and grandson of Henley's Joy's breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey. "We had the flowers sitting over the fence in front of the barn this morning and we had a few people stop to take pictures of him. He would prick his ears and swoll up and posed for the camera. He'd doing well, no complaints, and we're looking forward to bringing him up to Saratoga."
The second leg of the Turf Trinity, the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles, is slated for August 4 with the Turf Triple series concluding at Belmont with the $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs on September 7.
"We're really excited about this series," said Ramsey. "We think he's really going to like the mile and three-sixteenths of the Saratoga Derby. It's a great idea and I think it really showcases the marathon turf horses, which is something I think American racing could really use. It's nice to be a part of it and have a serious contender."
With four wins and three seconds from 11 starts, Henley's Joy had endured tough trips when second in the Grade 3 Transylvania and eighth in the Grade 3 American Turf when bothered at the start. On Saturday, with Lezcano up for the first time, Henley's Joy enjoyed a perfect trip.
"I hate to make excuses for horses. It's easy to do in this game, but when you watch his replays it's hard not to make an excuse," said Ramsey. "We knew the horse had the talent - but things never really went his way with a clean trip to showcase what he has - he got one yesterday and he delivered."
Henley's Joy boasted stakes wins last year in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile and the Pulpit at Keeneland and registered a 97 Beyer Speed Figure while making the grade.
Maker also sent out Do Share to a sixth-place finish for owner Three Diamonds Farm in the Grade 2, $300,000 John A. Nerud, a "Win and You're In" qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Sprint on the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival undercard.
The 6-year-old Candy Ride bay was cross-entered in Friday's $100,000 Iowa Sprint Handicap won by D'Rapper at Prairie Meadows, before the team decided to try deeper waters at Belmont.
"He came out of the race just fine," said Ramsey. "We had some complications with shipping. We were originally scheduled to go to Iowa and changed our minds late, which, in hindsight, may not have been the right call as that race scratched down to a three-horse field. He ran his race. He's not the type of horse you can put into the race, but the way the track has been playing you had to be into the race to get anything and that's not the type of horse he is. The way they ran the race wasn't fitting for him. We'll re-group."
The Maker barn will send out Dunph in the Grade 3, $100,000 Quick Call for sophomore turf sprinters on Thursday, Opening Day, at Saratoga Race Course.
The 5 ½-furlong Quick Call on the Mellon turf will join the Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville in kicking off the graded stakes action for the 40-day Saratoga meet, which will run from July 11 to September 2 with racing being conducted five days a week, Wednesday to Sunday, except for a special Labor Day Monday card to close out the meet.
Owned by Three Diamonds Farm and Joseph Besecker, Dunph won his first two starts, both on dirt, including the seven-furlong Spendthrift Juvenile Stallion at Churchill Downs. The Temple City gelding tried routing with off-the-board efforts in the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby, before trying turf when eighth in the Grade 3 Transylvania.
Last out, Dunph finished third in the grassy one-mile Mystic Lake Derby at Canterbury. Ramsey said he is hopeful a turnback in distance will energize the Kentucky-bred.
"I do think turf is his preferred surface and I'm excited to see him sprint on the turf," said Ramsey. "Obviously, no stakes at Saratoga is easy, so we'll definitely have our work cut out for us but it will be interesting to see how he handles the turf sprint. There's talent there we just haven't been able to figure out how to maintain it, hopefully this will be the answer."
First post on Thursday's 10-race Opening Day card at Saratoga is 1 p.m.
* * *
Concrete Rose cements G1 status with Belmont Oaks win; Saratoga Oaks next
Concrete Rose emerged from her victory in Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational in good order according to trainer Rusty Arnold, who noted that Ashbrook Farm and BBN Racing's daughter of Twirling Candy would be headed to the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks on August 2 as long as she remains healthy.
The Saratoga Oaks is the second leg of the newly minted Turf Tiara which includes the Belmont Oaks, Saratoga Oaks and the $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks on September 7 at Belmont Park.
"She came back great. She was on a van with [Hall of Fame trainer] Shug's [McGaughey] horses up to Saratoga at about five this morning, but everything looks great. As long as there aren't any setbacks that's where we'll be headed," Arnold said.
Concrete Rose, a winner of five of six lifetime starts, was a three-time graded stakes winner before notching her first Grade 1 triumph in the Belmont Oaks. At 2, she won the Grade 2 Jessamine over the turf at Keeneland before scoring victories in the Grade 3 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs in her sophomore debut and the Grade 3 Edgewood at Churchill Downs.
Concrete Rose earned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure in the Belmont Oaks, replicating the figure earned in the Edgewood.
Ashbrook Farm Racing Manager Bo Bromagen spoke high volumes of Concrete Rose's physical and mental maturity at age 3.
"Physically, she's developed but her attitude has been her biggest change. Her self-confidence is very noticeable," Bromagen said. "It's something you can't miss. In the paddock she's not acting up, she was just ready to go."
Bromagen said that it felt great to be able to compete among some of the most sought after Thoroughbred operations on the globe, like that of Ballydoyle who raced two fillies in the Belmont Oaks, Just Wonderful and Coral Beach, as well as the Japanese pacesetter Jodie.
"The international support that has come to work this series is fantastic. I was sitting next to a table with the Japanese contingent and obviously Ballydoyle is up here as well," Bromagen said. "It means a lot to finish in front of guys like that. They're [Ballydoyle] like the New York Yankees of horse racing and it means a lot to be able to compete with them on that level and be successful at it."
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McGaughey eyeing G1 Travers for Code of Honor
Bill Farish's homebred Code of Honor had no trouble in his return earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure for his impressive 3 1/4 length score in Saturday's Grade 3 Dwyer, traveling last-to-first in his first race since being placed second following the disqualification of Maximum Security in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
After winning his debut last August, Code of Honor posted a valiant effort to be second in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont after stumbling at the break. After launching his 3-year-old campaign with a fourth-place finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream Park, Code of Honor rebounded to win the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth before running third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby ahead of his Kentucky Derby bid.
Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey said he was pleased with how the Noble Mission colt has matured throughout his 3-year-old campaign.
"I think it showed a little bit of his maturity and where he's going," said McGaughey. "Physically, I think he's bigger, and I think in the Derby he was still a mentally immature horse. That's why, when Maximum Security came back over on him, he did what he did. Today, he was back in there. He was eating the dirt. When he had to find the hole, and the horses were kind of going everywhere, he found the hole and he was there."
Looking ahead to Saratoga, McGaughey said he would consider the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on July 27, with the ultimate goal being the Grade 1, $1.25 million Runhappy Travers on August 24.
"Hopefully, we can go through the summer and make our mark," said McGaughey. "We're looking for the Travers. I'd like to run in the Jim Dandy, but we'll see how he comes out of this."
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Catholic Boy targeting G1 Woodward
Robert V. LaPenta, Madaket Stables, Siena Farm, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables' Catholic Boy earned a 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his runner-up effort to Preservationist in Saturday's Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban, a 1 1/4 mile test on Big Sandy.
Last year, the dual-surface star won the turf Grade 1 Belmont Derby and Grade 1 Runhappy Travers in a tremendous sophomore season. The 4-year-old More Than Ready ridgling opened his campaign with a win on the grass in the Grade 2 Dixie at Pimlico and was battling for the lead on Saturday with the eventual winner in a prominent display.
Trainer Jonathan Thomas said Catholic Boy was in good order on Sunday morning.
"Overall, he's pretty good. He's got a couple little bangs and scratches but nothing big," said Thomas. "Now that the dust has settled, I thought overall it was a really good effort. Preservationist ran a 108 Beyer and we ran a 102, which is his second lifetime best. We were giving the winner six pounds and it wasn't the ideal set up. I thought we ran well."
Thomas tipped his cap to trainer Jimmy Jerkens for Saturday's breakthrough performance from the lightly-raced Preservationist.
"Preservationist was superb. Jimmy has done an incredible job," said Thomas. "I don't think that can be downplayed with a horse that's 6-years-old and had numerous stops and starts. We were just second best yesterday."
Thomas said Catholic Boy is likely to stay on dirt for his next outing, eyeing a cut back to nine furlongs in the Grade 1, $750,000 Woodward on August 31 at Saratoga - - which is shaping up as a potential rematch with Preservationist, who also came out of the Suburban in good order.
"The Woodward will be our major target," said Thomas. "While we think he's a mile and a quarter horse, I feel more confident cutting him back to a mile and an eighth now more than ever just off of the tactical speed he seems to have."
Catholic Boy was keen in the early stages of the Suburban under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, sitting in second position through the opening quarter-mile before taking a one-length lead through a half-mile in 48.09.
"I thought he was a little headstrong," said Thomas. "Javier said he was a little funny about the kickback and he jumped up on the bridle and worked his way out. I would have preferred to sit behind Preservationist and make one run, but it didn't work out that way for whatever reason. I don't think it helped, but I don't know that it cost us the race. Going a mile and a quarter you need to be able to conserve some energy and we gave up a bit of that yesterday.
"He's lightly-raced on the year," added Thomas. "It's his second time back and I think there's a lot of room for improvement. You're always going to learn through racing and we learned a couple things about him yesterday that maybe we'll have to tweak."
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Landeros moves tack to Saratoga for the summer
The Saratoga jockey's quarters will see a new face in Kentucky-based Chris Landeros, who will ride his first full meet at the Spa this summer.
Landeros, 30, has already won four graded stakes this season, including a victory in Saturday's Robert G. Dick Memorial at Delaware Park aboard Gentle Ruler for trainer Ian Wilkes.
The veteran rider has spent recent winters in South Florida riding at Gulfstream Park, where he rode 31 winners this winter, among most of the same jockeys that are regulars at the Saratoga meet.
"I'm super pumped," Landeros said of riding at Saratoga. "I've been going to Gulfstream the past couple of winters and building familiarity with most of these guys and I have some pretty good relationships with them."
Landeros rode four races at Saratoga last summer, including a victory aboard Big Dollar Bill in the Birdstone. He said he was on the road a lot last summer riding in stakes at various tracks and looks forward to having a more centralized base at Saratoga.
"I was always on a plane in the summer riding stakes. So, I figured why not just stay at Saratoga," said Landeros. "It's a tough and competitive meet, but I get along with the people up there and I'm really excited about it. Kentucky is home. It's where my family is, but I didn't want to be too far away from these guys. I made a good impression on them over the winter and got some good feedback and support. I'm going to enjoy this."
Landeros will be represented by former jockey Richard Migliore.
"I've known him since I was a kid and he has always been supportive of me," Landeros said.
Migliore, who serves as an on-air contributor for America's Day At The Races and Saratoga Live, is equally as excited as Landeros.
"I'm very excited to work with Chris," Migliore said. "I've always been impressed with his ability and I know he can compete with a strong colony of riders. We've got great responses from everyone. We got started a little bit late but I think that we'll hold up pretty well. The second half of the meet will be better than the first."
Landeros is named aboard two horses for trainer Gary Contessa on Thursday's Opening Day card, including Bustin To Be Loved [Race 6] and Lido Key [Race 10].
A native of San Mateo, California, Landeros rode his first winner in January 2006 at Turf Paradise aboard Spring of Pearls. He has won over 1,400 races in 13 years of riding.
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Rice sends two for G3 Quick Call
Trainer Linda Rice will try to get her Saratoga meet off to a good start when she sends out a pair of contenders for the Grade 3, $100,000 Quick Call over the Mellon turf course.
Making his stakes debut, Elektronic will seek to rebound after a disappointing fifth in a second-level allowance over the Widener turf at Belmont Park on June 14. Owned and trained by Rice, the son of City Zip was a second-out graduate on May 11 before defeating winners on May 27. Elektronic will race with blinkers on for the Quick Call.
"I think the blinkers will be a good addition," Rice said. "I just wanted to get a few races into him and I think they'll help him at the shorter distance."
Also entered in the Quick Call for Rice is Mount Travers, who enters off a runner-up finish in the Parx Spring Derby on May 21. The 3-year-old son of Speightstown has raced once on turf when finishing third over a yielding Aqueduct turf in the Bridgetown two starts back.
Mount Travers will enter the Quick Call off of two breezes over Belmont's inner turf, the most recent of which was a five-furlong work in 1:01.20 on June 30.
"Mount Travers has breezed well on the turf if it comes of he really likes the mud and if that were the case he would do well an off track," Rice said.
Jockey Jose Lezcano will guide Elektronic from post 2 while Jose Ortiz will pilot Mount Travers from post 5.
Elsewhere, all appears to be well with Nicodemus, who was pulled up in the gallop out by jockey Jose Ortiz and vanned off following a fourth-place effort in Saturday afternoon's Grade 2 John A. Nerud.
Trainer Linda Rice reported that the graded stakes winning son of Candy Ride would undergo further examination.
"Jose said he took a bad step at the sixteenth pole and he eased him but he looks good this morning so we're going to send him out for an exam," Rice said.
* * *
Veteran Pure Sensation picks up another graded stakes for Clement
Patricia Generazio's 8-year-old Pure Sensation notched his third win [2016, 2017] in the Grade 3 Parx Dash with a front-running effort under Paco Lopez for trainer Christophe Clement.
Sent off as the 6-5 post-time favorite in his 33rd career start, the gray or groan gelding broke alertly and wired the field of 10 to win by 4 ¼ lengths.
"It was a good win. He looks well and seems to have come out of it fine," said Clement. "He loves the turf course at Parx and it's a nice victory for Mr. and Mrs. Generazio.
Pure Sensation remained unbeaten in three starts this year, while improving his career record to 13-5-6.
With stablemate and fellow graded stakes winner Disco Partner also owned by Mrs. Generazio eyeing a start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Troy on August 3 at Saratoga, Clement said he would take his time before mapping out a next start for Pure Sensation.
"We'll give him some time to come out of this and go from there," said Clement. "There's the [Grade 3] Turf Monster at Parx that's a possibility as well as the Belmont Turf Sprint Championship, but we'll see."
Pure Sensation is perfect in three attempts in the Turf Monster, having captured the event in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
* * *
Brown breezes stakes contenders on turf
Three-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown sent out seven workers for half-mile breezes over the Belmont inner turf on Sunday morning in preparation for upcoming stakes.
Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence's Bricks and Mortar, who is pointed to the Grade 1 Arlington Million, was clocked in 48.80.
Juddmonte Farms homebred Environs, fifth last out in the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game, stopped the clock in 49.91.
Peter Brant's Grade 2 New York winner Homerique went in 49.90, while last year's Grade 1 Hollywood Derby winner Raging Bull covered four furlongs in 48.80.
Convento Viejo's 2018 Grade 1 Arlington Million winner Robert Bruce went the half in 49 flat and Brant's 2018 Eclipse Award Champion Turf Female Sistercharlie covering four furlongs in 49.80.
Multiple Grade 1-winner Rushing Fall, who has captured eight of nine starts for owners e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, went the half-mile in 49.80.
Homerique, Rushing Fall and Sistercharlie are among five Brown trainees nominated to the Grade 1 $500,000 Diana on Saturday, July 13 at the Spa. Brown also nominated Rymska and Thais.
* * *
Cross Country Pick 5 with Delaware Park pays $34K
Saturday's Cross Country Pick 5 sequence featuring races from the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park and Delaware Park in Wilmington, Delaware handled $121,759, returning $34,486.25.
The multi-race wager began with the first leg with Race 7 at Belmont, with Concrete Rose posting a 2 ¾-length win in the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational in the opening leg of the New York Racing Association's Turf Tiara for 3-year-old fillies. Trained by George "Rusty" Arnold and ridden by Julien Leparoux, Concrete Rose outkicked the Aidan O'Brien-trained Just Wonderful in the stretch to the win 1 ¼-mile Belmont Oaks on the inner turf in the Turf Tiara opener that will continue with the Grade 1, $750,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational on August 2. She returned $7.80 on a $2 win wager.
In the second leg, action shifted to Delaware Park, where Jaywalk won the Grade 3, $300,000 Delaware Oaks in Race 7. Trained by Jason Servis, Jaywalk paid $4.80 after besting a talented field that included runner-up Fashion Faux Pas and third-place finisher Ujjayi.
The third leg stayed in Delaware, with Gentle Ruler winning the Grade 3, $200,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial at 1 3/8 miles on the turf. The Ian Wilkes trainee returned $9.40.
Belmont was the site of the final two legs, with 20-1 shot Henley's Joy earning his first career graded stakes win in the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival feature in capturing the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby. Trainer Mike Maker saw the Kitten's Joy colt win the opening leg of the Turf Trinity, beating 16-1 Social Paranoia by three-quarters of a length, returning $43.60. The Turf Trinity will continue with the $1 million Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 4.
Preservationist closed out the Cross Country Pick 5 with a 4 ½-length win in the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban in Race 10 at Belmont, taking the 1 ¼-mile route on the main track in besting 2018 Grade 1 Runhappy Travers-winner Catholic Boy. The winner paid $9.90.
The minimum bet for the multi-track, multi-race wager is 50 cents, featuring a 15 percent takeout and a mandatory payout of the entire pool. Wagering on the Cross Country Pick 5 is also available on track, on ADW platforms, and at simulcast facilities across the country.
For more information on the Cross Country Pick 5 and past results, please visit https://www.nyra.com/belmont/racing/cross-country-wagers.