Three Technique returns to New York for G2 John A. Nerud
by NYRA Press Office
- Three Technique returns to New York for G2 John A. Nerud
- Motion targeting G1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational with European invader Speirling Beag, Mission of Joy
- Cody's Wish and Elite Power breeze at Saratoga
- Belmont Park Week 10 stakes probables
David E. Miller, Eric Grindley, and John Werner’s multiple graded stakes-placed Three Technique, listed at 5-1 on the morning line in Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 John A. Nerud, will return to Belmont Park for the first time since finishing third in the 2021 renewal of the seven-furlong sprint for older horses.
Trained by Jason Cook, the 6-year-old Mr Speaker horse is cross-entered in Sunday's $275,000 Hanshin at Ellis Park and was initially looking to improve on his runner-up effort in last year's renewal won by eventual Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile victor Cody's Wish.
However, when the Hanshin was moved from a one-turn mile at Churchill to a slightly different configuration out of the chute at Ellis Park, Cook decided to give the dark bay another try in the Nerud.
"I'm loading him up and bringing him to New York. He loves a one-turn mile but at Ellis the mile is a turn-and-a-half," Cook said. "I really wanted to run in the Hanshin. We got beat a neck to Cody's Wish in that race last year and it kind of stung that they brought that good a horse to that race. But we're coming to New York. I think he's more of a one-turn horse."
Three Technique launched his career in the care of his former conditioner Jeremiah Englehart and finished third in the 2021 John A. Nerud when 1 3/4-lengths back of the victorious Mind Control. He was made available at the 2021 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale but RNA'd and was haltered for $40,000 from a runner-up effort in a six-furlong sprint at the end of that month when conditioned by Robert Medina.
"He just had so much back class. I won a 27-way shake for him. I just happened to win the lottery that day," said Cook, with a laugh.
Cook first tried the dark bay in a trio of tests over synthetic at Turfway Park topped by a third-place finish in the Forego in February 2022. But Three Technique proved his best efforts come on dirt, taking the restricted Knicks Go on last year’s Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill two starts before his memorable Hanshin effort. He closed out his campaign with a rallying third in the Grade 3 Ack Ack in October at Churchill and a non-threatening sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Keeneland.
“When I got him, I ran him in a couple little stakes at Turfway and I don't necessarily think he liked the Tapeta as much as he likes the dirt. He ran good races and ran hard, but just didn't get there,” Cook said. “Obviously, he won on Derby Day and he's just been a joy to train. He runs hard every time.
“Last year, I thought I might win the Ack Ack and he kind of shuffled a little bit at the start and there wasn't enough pace in front of him,” continued Cook. “But I always thought with the right bunch he could be a Grade 3 or a Grade 2 type. He's that kind of horse.”
Three Technique enters from an impressive allowance optional-claiming score at Churchill Downs on May 27 over the well-regarded Kupuna, who had recently finished a close second to Zozos in the Knicks Go at the Louisville oval for trainer Bret Calhoun.
“In his allowance race the other day, they came home in 23 and change after going a pretty slow half. That was a really nice horse that he was doing with, a horse that's on his way up,” Cook said. “Bret said to me after, 'boy your horse ran game.' The worst thing about his talent level is he catches them on the way up to being Grade 1 horses and he catches them on the way down. He never has an easy race.”
Cook is the son of the late jockey Lois "L.C." Cook, who captured the 1957 Kentucky Oaks with Lori-El. Cook has never saddled a horse at Belmont Park and his lone New York entrant was Remember the Roar, who finished sixth in an August 1997 claiming event at Saratoga Race Course.
“I'm going to try and buck the trend and win one in New York,” Cook said. “My dad was a jockey and I like history and that track has a lot of history. My dad was one of the leading riders in the country in the '50s.”
With Three Technique’s regular rider Rafael Bejerano riding at Ellis Park on Saturday, Hall of Fame jockey Javier Castellano, winner of two-thirds of this year's Triple Crown, has picked up the mount from post 2.
"You can't get a much hotter rider than the jock I got. He's won a few big races lately," said Cook, with a laugh. “And what better place to sit and make a big run from the three-eighths pole home than Belmont Park, right?”
A memorable New York victory could be made that much sweeter by the presence of the horse’s trio of owners in the building as Three Technique looks to keep his perfect in-the-money record of 5-1-2-2 over Big Sandy intact.
“All three owners can never seem to be in the same spot at the same time, but I think they'll all be flying to New York for the race,” Cook said. “He's never been off-the-board there and he's doing good - and when they're doing good, you have to take your shot.”
Motion targeting G1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational with European invader Speirling Beag, Mission of Joy
Trainer Graham Motion will be in pursuit of his first triumph in the Grade 1, $500,000 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational when he sends graded/group stakes winners Speirling Beag and Mission of Joy for the 10-furlong turf test for sophomore fillies on July 8.
Walmac Farm, Gainesway Stable and Haras d’Etreham’s Speirling Beag defeated colts when a narrow winner of the Group 3 Eyrefield in October at Leopardstown for her former trainer Jim Bolger. The daughter of Mastercraftsman made her sophomore debut for trainers Alessandro and Giuseppe Botti in April when fifth in the Group 3 Prix Penelope going 1 5/16 miles at Saint Cloud in France.
Speirling Beag arrived at Motion’s primary division at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Maryland in late May and has been training forwardly toward the Belmont Oaks.
“The idea when she arrived was to look at this race, so we plan to proceed,” said Motion, who captured this race with Check the Label  when it was run as the Garden City Handicap. “She’s handled everything well. We haven’t had any hiccups with her since she came. She arrived around the end of May, but she’s been straightforward and pretty respectful in her breezes.”
Speirling Beag worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 over Fair Hill’s synthetic surface on Monday and will work once more before the Belmont Oaks.
Bred in Ireland by Ennistown Stud, Speirling Beag is out of the unraced Cape Cross mare Starscape.
Motion also will saddle RyZan Sun Racing and Madaket Stables’ Mission of Joy, who captured the Grade 3 Regret on June 3 at Churchill Downs. The Kitten’s Joy chestnut earned a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure for the 1 1/2-length triumph, which followed a troubled third in the Grade 3 Edgewood on May 5 over the same course. There, she stalked from mid-pack, lacked racing room in upper stretch and stumbled, but was tipped out a path wide and managed to grab third place.
“She was unlucky at Churchill a couple starts back, but she sure made up for it last time,” Motion said.
Bred in Ontario by Sam Son Farm, Mission of Joy is out of the Smart Strike mare Smart Mission whose half-sister Irish Mission was a dual Sovereign Award winner in Canada.
Motion also confirmed ultra consistent graded stakes winner Nagirroc for the one-mile Grade 3, $250,000 Manila for sophomores on July 7 at Belmont.
Owned by Little Red Feather Racing, Madaket Stables and William Strauss, the bay son of Lea was acquired privately following a runner-up effort on debut at Indiana Grand for his former trainer Jim Corrigan. After winning his debut for Motion in a six-furlong maiden in September, he then won his graded stakes debut in the Grade 3 Futurity going the same distance in October at Belmont at the Big A.
Nagirroc was second in his 2023 debut in a strong renewal of the Grade 3 Transylvania in April at Keeneland in a race that saw the third-place finisher, Webslinger, subsequently capture the Grade 2 American Turf and Audubon at Churchill. Nagirroc followed with a victory in the James W. Murphy on May 20 at Pimlico in his first start with blinkers.
Motion said the equipment change has proved beneficial to the horse.
“I have to think they made a difference based off the way he ran the other day,” Motion said. “In fairness to him, the race at Keeneland came back a very good race. Everyone who finished around him came back and won. The form of that race was very good and I think the blinkers did help him.”
Motion also provided an update on Gainesway Stable’s New York homebred Spendarella, who has not breezed since finishing second to In Italian in the one-mile Grade 1 Just a Game on June 10 at Belmont. While the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 15 at Saratoga Race Course is not ruled out, Motion said he could be more inclined to lean toward the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 12 at Colonial Downs.
“I’m on the fence about running there,” said Motion regarding the Diana. “I’m going to think about that. I’ll probably nominate but I could easily see myself looking at a race like the Beverly D.”
Spendarella picked up a trio of New York-bred year-end honors in 2022, taking home Horse of the Year as well as Champion 3-Year-Old Filly and Champion Female Turf Horse on the back of a prosperous season that saw her win 4-of-5 starts led by a score in the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks.
Cody's Wish and Elite Power breeze at Saratoga
Godolphin's Kentucky homebred Cody's Wish worked a sharp half-mile in 48.48 seconds over the Oklahoma training track on Monday in his first breeze back since his dominant score in the Grade 1 Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan Handicap on June 10 at Belmont Park.
"It was a nice breeze, very smooth," said Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott.
The 5-year-old Curlin bay has won 9-of-13 starts, including his last six in succession with triumphs in the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont last May, the Hanshin at Churchill Downs in July and the Grade 1 Forego in August ahead of his head score over Cyberknife in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November at Keeneland. He entered the Met Mile from a 4 3/4-length score in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day.
Cody's Wish remains under consideration for the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney, a nine-furlong route for older horses on August 5 that offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.
He tried nine furlongs at second asking in July 2021 at the Spa, finishing third in a maiden tilt, but has taken 9-of-10 starts since.
"That's possible," Mott said of the Whitney. "It's [nine furlongs] always a question. He's won his Breeders' Cup going a two turn-mile but he's not won at a mile and an eighth. You never know until they do it."
Godolphin's reigning Champion Male Sprinter Elite Power worked a bullet three-eighths in 36.02 on June 24 over the Oklahoma training track in his first breeze back since a 1 3/4-length score in the Grade 2 True North on Belmont Stakes Day.
The 5-year-old Curlin chestnut is targeting the six-furlong Grade 1, $350,000 Alfred G. Vanderbilt Handicap on July 29 at the Spa.
"He worked fine. We'll run in the Vanderbilt," Mott said.
Mott indicated that Elite Power's main year-end goal is likely a title defense in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint in November at Santa Anita.
Team Valor International and Gary Barber's Wakanaka was nominated to Sunday's Perfect Sting here, but Mott said he will likely find her a race at Saratoga instead.
The 5-year-old Power bay is twice Grade 1-placed in the Just a Game at Belmont, finishing second last year and third last out on June 9 after a wide trip in a race won by the freewheeling In Italian. Wakanaka, who captured the Grade 2 Dance Smartly in July at Woodbine, was steadied on the rail and finished fifth as the favorite in the Grade 3 Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf Invitational in her seasonal debut on January 28 at Gulfstream Park.
"She has a come-from-behind style, so that lends itself to trouble," Mott said.
Bred in Ireland by Mrs. Jean Brenna, Wakanaka captured the Group 3 Premio Regina Elena Italian One Thousand Guineas in April 2021 at Rome for her former conditioner Diego Dettori in her final European outing before joining Mott last January.
Belmont Park Week 10 stakes probables
Friday, July 7
Probable: Belouni (Chad Brown), Dreaming of Kona (Aldana Spieth), Freedom Trail (John Terranova, II), Major Dude (Todd Pletcher), Mercante (Bill Mott), Nagirroc (Graham Motion), Talk of the Nation (Shug McGaughey)
Possible: Yacowlef (Jack Sisterson)
Saturday, July 8
G1 Belmont Derby Invitational
Probable: Boppy O (Casse), Far Bridge (Pletcher), Kalik (Brown), Mendelssohns March (McPeek), Mondego (Clement), Silver Knott (Charlie Appleby), The Foxes (Andrew Balding), Webslinger (Casse)
Possible: Cyber Ninja (Mott), Redistricting (Brown)
G1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational
Probable: Allamericanbeauty (McGaughey), Aspen Grove (James Stack), Aspray (Brown), Be Your Best (Horacio DePaz), Freydis The Red (Kenneth McPeek), Mission of Joy (Graham Motion), Papilio (Mark Casse), Speirling Beag (Motion)
Possible: Prerequisite (Brown), Strikingly Spun (Joe Sharp)
Probable: Charge It (Pletcher), Clapton (Juan Alvarado), Fearless (Pletcher), Red Run (Mike Maker), Tonal Impact (Linda Rice), Unbridled Bomber (James Ryerson)
Possible: Curbstone (Tom Morley), Portos (Morley), Tawny Port (Christophe Clement)
G3 Victory Ride
Probable: Dazzling Blue (Brad Cox), Downtown Mischief (Linda Rice), Interpolate (Brown), Jersey Pearl (Darrin Miller), Maple Leaf Mel (Melanie Giddings), Red Carpet Ready (Rusty Arnold), Topsy (Steve Asmussen), Vahva (Cherie DeVaux)
Possible: Adeliese's Smile (Jose Jimenez), Alva Star (Brett Brinkman), Ms. Bucchero (Diane Morici)