Trainer hopes distance is 'Golden' in G2 Brooklyn
By Phil Janack | 06/05/2014 06:20 PM ET
At this time last year, trainer Dallas Stewart brought Golden Soul to Belmont Park with eyes on the track's biggest prize, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes. Runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, Golden Soul didn't show the same closing kick and wound up a well-beaten ninth.
On Saturday, Stewart and Golden Soul will take another crack at the 1 ½-mile distance over Belmont's main track in the 126th renewal of the Grade 2, $500,000 Brooklyn Invitational for older horses.
Carded third of 13 races on a Belmont Stakes Day program worth $8 million in purses, the Brooklyn is the first of the afternoon's nine graded stakes and the third leg of the $500,000 guaranteed Pick 5 that kicks off with the 11:35 a.m. opener.
If the winner of the race has won a graded stakes at a distance of 1 3/16 miles or longer, they will be eligible to collect the $175,000 Brooklyn Bonus, offered by the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA).
"He's training really good," said Stewart, who trains Golden Soul for breeder-owner Charles Fipke. "We kind of picked the race because it is a mile and a half. He has the pedigree and he's got great stamina, so we thought we'd give it a shot. There's some nice horses in there, but we think he can stay the distance."
A chestnut son of Grade 1 winner Perfect Soul, Golden Soul went winless in eight starts last year, finishing second in both the 1 ¼-mile Derby and the Grade 3 LeComte, run at Fair Grounds at a mile and 70 yards.
This year, Golden Soul has been off the board in both the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap in March, run at 1 1/8 miles, and the Grade 2 Alysheba at 1 1/16 miles on May 2 at Churchill Downs.
He has been a frequent training partner with stablemate Commanding Curve, who is among 10 contenders attempting to deny Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
"He loves his job. He loves to go out and train. He just loves to get out there and go," Stewart said. "He's competitive. He loves to work. He's worked a lot with Commanding Curve. He's still got that competitive streak in him; we've just got to get him in the right spot at the right distance. We're hoping that the distance will maybe get us a win with him."
Golden Soul, 15-1 in the program, will break from post six in the eight-horse Brooklyn under new rider Shaun Bridgmohan.
Also looking to take advantage of the distance is Mike Repole's Micromanage, whose sire is 2002 Belmont Stakes runner-up Medaglia d'Oro and whose dam, Catnip, is a half-sister to 1996 Belmont winner Editor's Note.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, Micromanage captured the Grade 3, 1 3/16-mile Skip Away at Gulfstream Park on March 29 in his second start of 2014, and most recently was a closing third in the 12-furlong Drosselmeyer Stakes at Belmont on May 4.
"We've kind of been looking at this race for a while and looking to get him stretched out to a mile and a half," Pletcher said. "He's closely related to Editor's Note, and we've always felt like the mile and a half should suit him well."
As a 3-year-old, Micromanage was off the board only twice in nine starts, winning the Long Branch at Monmouth Park last July. He was third in both the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational and Grade 3 Discovery Handicap, and fourth by 2 ½ lengths in the Grade 3 Indiana Derby.
"He's always been kind of mature and well-developed, physically," Pletcher said. "We put the blinkers on in the Skip Away, and he seemed to respond well with a big race. In the Drosselmeyer, he kept grinding it out, so the mile and a half should help him. He's been a little inconsistent at times, but at the same time he never runs a bad race. We're just hoping that's what he's been looking to do. He's eligible for the bonus the way the purse is structured, so it's a big race for him."
Listed at 7-2 on the morning line, Micromanage will carry jockey Javier Castellano and 119 pounds from post three.
Rounding out the Brooklyn field are Drosselmeyer winner Ground Transport and runner-up Ever Rider, who has two wins and two seconds in four career tries at 1 ½ miles; Norumbega, second to Micromanage in the Skip Away; 5-2 morning line favorite Cat Burglar, third in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special last time out; Irish-bred Eriugena, winner of his last two starts; and Bigger Is Bettor, making his first start since ending his 5-year-old campaign by winning the Slew O' Gold in mid-November at Aqueduct Racetrack.