by NYRA Press Office
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens hopes that the next couple of weekends are prosperous ones for his barn with two of his stable stars slated for Grade 1 action at Belmont Park.
Coming fresh off a victory in the Grade 1 Woodward presented by NYRA Bets, Preservationist is targeting next Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont Park. The following Saturday, Jerkens will saddle Green Light Go for the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne on October 5. Both races are "Win And You're In" events for the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita on November 1-2.
Preservationist made his stakes debut a winning one when besting dual Grade 1-winner Catholic Boy in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 at Big Sandy before finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Whitney at Saratoga.
Since the Woodward, Preservationist has worked twice over the Belmont Park main track, the most recent being a seven-furlong breeze in 1:28.20 on September 17.
"He seems really good. I can't knock him. He's got his energy, he's eating well and he's staying sound," Jerkens said.
Following his career debut in June 2016 where he finished second, the 6-year-old son of Arch was placed on the shelf and did not race again until the following December. He broke his maiden in January 2018 at Aqueduct and defeated winners in a first-level allowance at the Big A one month later before going on the shelf for 11 months.
Jerkens said he's taking it one race at a time with the talented Preservationist.
"From here, we're taking it one race at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves," said Jerkens. "Just get him back to what he's been doing and hope we can keep him going."
The veteran conditioner has posted a pair of runner-up efforts in the Jockey Club Gold Cup with Wicked Strong and Effinex in 2015-16.
Stronach Stables' Green Light Go remains on target for the Champagne and will enter the one-turn mile off of a win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.
Since arriving back at Belmont, Green Light Go has worked twice, most recently going six furlongs in 1:13.56 over the training track on September 17.
Initially intended to run in the Grade 1 Hopeful on Closing Day at the Spa, the son of Hard Spun was scratched from the race due to track conditions.
"He was coming back kind of close but it was a combination of that and the track," Jerkens said. "Coming back so close we felt like we didn't really need to run on a track like that. We waited it out a little bit. After the first two races it didn't look like it was going to dry and get any better."
Jerkens has enjoyed past success with 2-year-olds, including his first graded stakes winner Ninth Inning in the 1997 Grade 3 Astarita, but the conditioner said Green Light Go has blossomed earlier than his past trainees.
"She won her first three in a row," Jerkens said. "Then there's Quality Road, he broke his maiden as a 2-year-old but that was late in the year. But as far as a 2-year-old coming this early for me, he's (Green Light Go) the first one."
Centennial Farms' Rocketry could target a repeat win in the Grade 2, $200,000 Marathon at Santa Anita. The 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, who finished a strong second in the Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational in June, has not won since last year's edition of the Marathon at Churchill Downs.
Perhaps Rocketry's biggest claim to fame was breaking a 98-year-old track record at Belmont Park held by Man o' War when taking the Temperance Hill Invitational last September.
"We're giving him some time now," Jerkens said. "We're not ruling out the Marathon. I probably ran him once or twice in the summer when I shouldn't have. He ran so hard in the Brooklyn and deserved to win that day. He took the worst of it and just fell short. That would have been colossal if he would be won."
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Clement in Breeders' Cup state of mind with Decorated Invader
Following a victory in the Grade 1 Summer on September 15 at Woodbine, Decorated Invader will likely train up to the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf on November 2 at Santa Anita, trainer Christophe Clement said.
Owned by West Point Thoroughbreds, William Freeman and William Sandbrook, Decorated Invader sat toward the rear of the field in the one-mile event, inched his way closer to the front at the far turn with no asking, and received his cue from jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. at the top of the stretch. He ran down 99-1 longshot Cadet Connelly in the final eighth of a mile to win by 1 ¾ lengths.
The Declaration of War bay arrived at the Summer off of a second-out graduation at Saratoga on August 10.
"Decorated Invader is a nice horse. He's always trained like a nice 2-year-old," Clement said. "It's very exciting to see him keep getting better. He was impressive the other day. It was a great ride from Irad, as usual. Obviously, we are thinking about the Breeders' Cup. We'll bring him back at Belmont and train him and go from there."
Bred in Kentucky by Redmon Farm, Decorated Invader is out of the Arch broodmare Gamely Girl and was purchased for $200,000 from the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
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Imperial Hint remains on target for G1 Vosburgh
Raymond Mamone's Imperial Hint is on target for the Grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh, a Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In" event set for Saturday, September 27 at Belmont.
Trained by Luis Carvajal, Jr., Imperial Hint set a track record last out when impressively defending his title in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga Race Course completing six furlongs in 1:07.92
The 6-year-old multiple graded stakes winning son of Imperialism started his year inauspiciously running third in the Pelican on February 16 at Tampa Bay Downs before shipping east to Dubai to compete in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen where he ran another third in March.
Carvajal, Jr. said his star trainee is once again ready to defend his title in the Vosburgh with year-end sights on a win in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint on Saturday, November 2 at Santa Anita.
"We try to space his races out throughout the year because he really gives his all on the track," said Carvajal, Jr. "With a horse like him, you can't run him back every four weeks. Coming from his race in Dubai, Mr. Mamone and I came up with a plan to get back to the Breeders' Cup. It started with the Vanderbilt and that was such a phenomenal performance he's come up out of the race great and continued to flourish."
Imperial Hint has posted four workouts at Monmouth Park since that effort, most recently breezing five furlongs in 59 seconds flat on Wednesday.
Imperial Hint is unbeaten in two starts at Belmont having captured the Grade 2 True North and Grade 1 Vosburgh in 2018.
"He worked great," said Carvajal, Jr. "He's himself and really went through the breeze with ease. We'll ship up to Belmont the day of the race. Of course, we'd like to get to the Breeders' Cup from there, but it all starts with the Vosburgh so we're preparing him and confident he can run well as he has in the past over the track."
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Wicked Title looking to prove her turf prowess in G2 Miss Grillo
Wicked Title, trained and part-owned by Chad Summers, will make a third attempt at her turf debut in the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile inner turf tilt slated for Sunday, September 29 at Belmont.
The Wicked Strong chestnut, out of the Curlin mare Shesacurlinmytoes, was purchased for $25,000 at the April OBS and Summers said he initially expected the filly to thrive at a distance of ground on dirt.
"We thought she would be a two-turn dirt horse and when we started training her, she looked like a turf horse," said Summers. "We galloped her a few times on the inner turf at Belmont and she really liked the grass."
After a series of good works, Summers entered Wicked Title in a 5 1/2-furlong maiden allowance auction series turf sprint on July 31 at Saratoga, an open juvenile race, restricted to horses that went through the ring for $45,000 or less at their most recent auction, carrying a purse $75,000.
Unfortunately, the race was rained off the turf and contested on the fast main track where Wicked Title endured a troubled trip en route to finishing eighth.
"She was bumped real hard a couple times coming out of the gate, but she made a middle move and then flattened out," said Summers. "Still, we liked what we saw from her. There's not many times you'll finish eighth, beaten 18 lengths, that you'd think it was a good race, but it was."
Wicked Title breezed again on the Saratoga turf on August 16 and Summers entered her into a grassy seven furlong maiden allowance sprint. Once again, the race was rained onto the fast main track, but this time, with Joel Rosario up, Wicked Title made the lead and held on strong to earn a nose win.
"I think she showed a lot of grit that day," said Summers. "She broke good and had the lead and was passed by a couple of nice horses and came back and beat them. She showed a lot of heart. I know the final time wasn't awe inspiring, but she ran well."
Wicked Title has continued to train well out of her maiden win, including a September 8 breeze on the Belmont turf in 50.85 seconds and Summers said he considered both the Miss Grillo and the Grade 3, $150,000 Matron at six furlongs on October 6 for the filly's turf debut.
"Given how she's acted on the grass, we really wanted to give her this opportunity and with her pedigree we think the distance won't be a problem," said Summers. "We circled the Miss Grillo as a possibility after she worked so well with Hawkish, for Jimmy Toner, on the grass a couple weeks ago."
A probable Miss Grillo field include the first and third-place finishers from the P.G. Johnson in Crystalle and English Breeze, as well as the impressive maiden winner Sparkling Sky, but Summers said his filly deserves an opportunity.
"Obviously, Crystalle is a really nice horse and the horse to beat," said Summers. "We might have to make up six or seven lengths, but we think she's doing well enough to warrant a chance"
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Belmont Park Week 5 Stakes probables
Saturday, September 28
Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (BC WAYI)
Probable: Code of Honor (Shug McGaughey); Preservationist (Jimmy Jerkens); Tacitus (Bill Mott); Tenfold (Steve Asmussen); Vino Rosso (Todd Pletcher); Yoshida (Mott)
Grade 1, $300,000 Vosburgh (BC WAYI)
Probable: Brown Buckeye (Anthony Quartarolo); Firenze Fire (Jason Servis); Imperial Hint (Luis Carvajal, Jr.)
Possible: Bon Raison (Peter Tournas); Wonderful Light (Michelle Nevin)
Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim
Probable: Andesite (Brad Cox); Famished (John Kimmel) Me and Mr. C (Ned Allard); No Lime (Mott); No Word (Pletcher); Our Country (Mark Casse); Tuggle (Jeremiah Englehart)
Grade 2, $300,000 Beldame
Probable: Gotham Gala (Arnaud Delacour); Midnight Bisou (Asmussen); Spring in the Wind (Quartarolo); Wow Cat (Chad Brown)
Possible: Alberobello (Pletcher); Another Broad (Pletcher); Crimson Frost (Nevin)
Sunday, September 29
Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo
Probable: Ava K's Girl (Nevin); Crystalle (Kimmel); English Breeze (David Donk); Jazzique (Brown); Sparkling Sky (Pletcher); Wicked Title (Chad Summers)