Belmont Stakes Notes: Thursday, June 2, 2022

Rich Strike has first gallop over main track in preparation for G1 Belmont Stakes
by NYRA Press Office

--Rich Strike has first gallop over main track in preparation for G1 Belmont Stakes
--Arrest Me Red, Bound for Nowhere targeting G1 Jaipur
--G1-winner Bella Sofia possible for G2 Bed o' Roses; Valenzan Day and Scuttlebuzz eyeing BSRF starts
--G2 winner Tiz the Bomb to target Caesars Turf Triple series
--Early look at probables for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

RED TR-Racing’s Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike got his first look at the Belmont Park main track on Thursday, galloping 1 1/2 miles over the sloppy going with regular exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes in the irons. The son of Keen Ice arrived at Belmont early Wednesday morning for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 11.

“It seems like he’s done everything a little bit better than I thought he would,” said trainer Eric Reed. “We actually took him out yesterday and we were going to give him one turn – the rider said he wanted to give him another, so he went twice on the [training] track and got used to the pony and made a friend there. Today, we took him to the main track. It was a little wet, so we just went one time around and we kind of made him go at our pace. He didn’t care for that. His ears were back and he was wanting to go. So, tomorrow he’ll get a chance to go out and train like normal.”

Rich Strike made his way through the paddock in tandem with outrider Juan Galvez and his pony, Stormy, who will accompany Rich Strike throughout his preparations leading up to the Belmont. The two quietly made a few laps around the walking path with other trainees behind them before heading through the tunnel and to the main track.

Lagunes trotted Rich Strike for a few strides over Big Sandy before asking him to extend to a light gallop for the 1 1/2-mile journey, keeping a tight hold of the energetic chestnut. Rich Strike kept an even tempo throughout, pinned his ears and wanted to do more down the lane, but stayed in hand to complete the exercise and exit the track through the chute on the first turn.

Lagunes noted that Rich Strike, who can be spirited in the mornings, has been noticeably more relaxed at Belmont.

“He’s happy. I think he likes this track,” Lagunes said. “He was pretty fresh and was pulling a little, but he’s more relaxed here than at Churchill Downs. There [at Churchill], there are a lot of horses and a lot of traffic and he gets a little stressed. But not here.”

Reed said Rich Strike appeared to be ready for more in his exercise.

“We never really try to make him go a certain pace except for today, and he didn’t like that. He wants to go his [way],” said Reed. “It was his second day back and I wasn’t sure if he’s got some fatigue and just won’t show it, so I didn’t want to overdo it today. Tomorrow, we’ll let him do his thing.”

With the track rated sloppy from overnight rain, Reed said he will know more about how Rich Strike handled the surface once he gallops over a fast going.

“He’s done everything right. He’s enjoying it," Reed said. "It was a little wet today so I don’t think we got a true feel of the track. Maybe tomorrow if it’s dry then I’ll get a chance to watch him and I think after a couple days I’ll have a pretty good idea of how he’s taking to the track.”

Rich Strike posted his final breeze in preparation for the Belmont on Monday at Churchill Downs where he breezed five furlongs in 59 seconds flat. He is not expected to breeze at Belmont, but will school in the paddock and gallop each day leading up to his run in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”

Jeff Perrin, agent for Rich Strike's jockey Sonny Leon, said the rider will arrive in New York next Thursday evening with an eye towards participating on the Friday, June 9 card at Belmont.

"I'd like to get Sonny a couple of mounts Friday so he can get a feel for the track, so I've reached out to a couple trainers up there," Perrin said. "He'll be watching many of the replays of previous Belmonts to see who did what and how it happened. And then he'll be studying every race over the next week at Belmont Park to get ready."

Leon's only mount at a NYRA track came last year at Saratoga Race Course when he piloted Forewarned to a sixth-place finish in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup.

Perrin said he's not too worried about Leon having a light schedule on Belmont Stakes Day as the rider had won just four races at Churchill Downs prior to the Kentucky Derby.

"Even on Derby day, the only race he rode was the Kentucky Derby," Perrin said. "The dream was to draw in and run in the Kentucky Derby but the dream never went as far as to winning it, but the good Lord has different plans for us all."


Arrest Me Red, Bound for Nowhere targeting G1 Jaipur

Trainer Wesley Ward is in pursuit of his second triumph in the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur on June 11 at Belmont Park with graded stakes winners Arrest Me Red and Bound for Nowhere.

The Jaipur, run for 3-year-olds and upward going six furlongs on the turf, is a Breeders’ Cup “Win And You’re In” event, offering the winner an automatic entry into the Grade 1, $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint on November 5 at Keeneland.

Ward, who saddled Undrafted to victory in the 2014 Jaipur, is both the trainer and owner of Bound for Nowhere, who finished third in last year’s Jaipur. The 8-year-old son of The Factor was sent to the sidelines following a fifth-place finish in the Grade 3 Troy in August at Saratoga. He returned to action with vigor when defeating multiple stakes winner Excess Magic in a Fair Grounds turf sprint allowance optional claimer in March where he was piloted by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Bound for Nowhere is pointing to the Jaipur after missing the Grade 2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint on May 6 at Churchill Downs – a race won by Arrest Me Red.

Ward said Bound for Nowhere, who worked five-eighths in 1:06.80 on May 28 over yielding Keeneland turf, will work once more before a final decision on a Jaipur start is made.

“He’s doing great,” said Ward. “He won his comeback and Johnny was kind enough to go ride him for me. We had plans to bring him to the race at Churchill on Derby week and a little minor issue came up. He had a great work last week and we’re going to watch his work this week Sunday on the grass at Keeneland and make our decision. But as of last week’s work, we’re going.”

Bound for Nowhere, who captured the 2018 and 2021 editions of the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland, boasts a consistent 18-8-2-3 record and $1,085,257 in earnings.

Lael Stables’ Arrest Me Red made only three starts last year, but won all three at turf sprint stakes level on the NYRA circuit. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile colt captured the Mahony in August at Saratoga against straight 3-year-olds, and bested elders Pulsate and Chewing Gum in October in the Grade 3 Belmont Turf Sprint. Arrest Me Red scratched out of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint and won the Aqueduct Turf Sprint in late November, which saw the top three finishers from the Belmont Turf Sprint replicate the trifecta.

“He’s a nice, well-seasoned horse. He’s very sound, so no issues that way. We’re looking forward to the race,” Ward said. “He shipped up there this morning. We’ll probably breeze him Sunday.”

Ward will send up juvenile colt No Nay Hudson for the $150,000 Tremont on June 9 at Belmont. Andrew Farm and For the People Racing’s son of No Nay Never, who also was conditioned by Ward, arrives at the 5 1/2-furlong juvenile stakes test off a four-length victory on debut at Keeneland.

“If you look at the horse physically, he’s a pure sprinter. He looks more like a No Nay Never, sprinter type,” Ward said.

Ward will attempt to keep an upward trajectory afloat going into Belmont Stakes Racing Festival after winning last Saturday’s Grade 3 Soaring Softly with Chardy Party. The Stonestreet Stables-owned sophomore daughter of Dark Angel shipped back to Ward’s primary base at Keeneland with no firm plans for her next start.

She entered the Soaring Softly following a late-rallying debut victory at Keeneland

“She just got back to Keeneland, so we’ll make a decision on where we’re going shortly,” Ward said.

Last Sunday, Ward sent out Rebecca Hillen’s Asymmetric for his North American debut in the Paradise Creek, demonstrating unprecedented early speed under Irad Ortiz, Jr. from the outermost post 6, but still managed to finish a good second to Big Invasion.

“He got away from Irad a little bit. That’s not how he runs, he usually runs in behind horses and comes out with the last furlong to go,” Ward said. “That’s how we breezed him in Kentucky, we put him directly behind another horse and he eases out and comes. Breaking from the outside post, he just got away from Irad and opened up six lengths so he wasn’t able to get behind horses and settle. I was proud of the horse to continue on the way the race unfolded. We’re looking forward to getting him back at a shorter distance, in behind horses and swinging him out.”

The 3-year-old son of Showcasing, previously trained in Great Britain by Alan King, won the Group 2 Richmond at Goodwood before finishing closely behind Perfect Power twice at Group 1 level.

Ward said he would target the Grade 3, $175,000 Quick Call presented by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation on July 17 at Saratoga Race Course, a race which he won with Golden Pal last year.


G1-winner Bella Sofia possible for G2 Bed o' Roses; Valenzan Day and Scuttlebuzz eyeing BSRF starts

Trainer Rudy Rodriguez is lining up a trio of potential starters in Bella Sofia, Scuttlebuzz and Valenzan Day for the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival slated for June 9-11 at Belmont Park.

Michael Imperio, Medallion Racing, Sofia Soares, Vincent Scuderi and Parkland Thoroughbreds' Bella Sofia is possible for the Grade 2, $300,000 Bed o' Roses, a seven-furlong sprint for older fillies and mares on Friday, June 10.

The 4-year-old Awesome Patriot dark bay captured the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga and the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont in a productive sophomore season that culminated in a fourth-place finish in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Sprint in November at Del Mar.

Bella Sofia made her seasonal debut a winning one last out with a hard-fought nose score over Frank's Rockette in the Grade 3 Vagrancy Handicap traveling 6 1/2-furlongs on May 14 over Big Sandy.

"She's doing good," Rodriguez said. "We haven't made a decision yet on running her, but I will try to breeze her tomorrow or Saturday and then talk to the owners and see what the plan is."

Bella Sofia breezed a half-mile in 49.98 on May 26 over the Belmont main track in her first work back out of the Vagrancy.

La Marca Stable's Scuttlebuzz, a 5-year-old The Factor gelding, is targeting the Grade 1, $400,000 Jaipur, a six-furlong sprint for 3-year-olds and up on June 11 which offers a "Win and You're In" berth to the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint in November at Keeneland.

He went from claim-to-fame last out with a one-length score in the Elusive Quality on April 30 at Belmont while making his stakes debut in his 17th career start.

"Mr. La Marca has been with us since Day One, so I was very happy for him. They're very loyal owners and to win a stakes like that for him was very exciting." Rodriguez said.

Scuttlebuzz was claimed for $30,000 out of a winning effort in April 2021 at Aqueduct and has since posted a record of 9-5-1-1 for current connections.

The grey posted a bullet five-eighths work in 1:00.09 on May 26 over Big Sandy.

"He's doing very good. He's a straightforward horse and likes to train. He likes his job, so I just try to keep him happy," Rodriguez said. "I'll breeze him tomorrow on the main track."

Rodriguez said he is cautiously optimistic about trying the Jaipur with Scuttlebuzz, who garnered a career-best 101 Beyer for his Elusive Quality score.

"I don't look too much at the numbers. I like to look at how they have progressed and how they're feeling," Rodriguez said. "Right now, I'm very happy to have won a stake. That race is going to come up very deep. To run in a Grade 1 race is not apple picking."

Scuttlebuzz, bred in the Empire State by Lawrence Goichman, is out of the stakes-placed Elusive Quality mare Elusive Rumour, who also produced the multiple stakes winner Myhartblongstodady [by Scat Daddy].

Valenzan Day, a 2-year-old Khozan colt owned by Rodriguez in partnership with Celeritas Racing, is pointing to the $150,000 Tremont at 5 1/2-furlongs on Thursday, June 9.

The chestnut drew off to a 2 1/4-length victory with a prominent trip under Luis Saez sprinting five furlongs in his May 12 debut at Belmont.

"He's doing good. He's going to breeze tomorrow and we'll see how he goes. We're pointing to the Tremont," Rodriguez said. "The win was very impressive. It's good to have one like that in the barn."

The $15,000 OBS March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training purchase is out of the Utopia mare Radical Grace.


G2 winner Tiz the Bomb to target Caesars Turf Triple Series

Magdalena Racing’s Tiz the Bomb, who has won over three different surfaces, will turn his focus to a turf campaign and a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational for sophomores travelling 1 1/4 miles over the turf on July 9 at Belmont Park.

“That’s where we’re headed,” owner and trainer Kenny McPeek said. “He should be set for the race on July 9.”

The Caesars Belmont Derby is the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series at NYRA and is followed by the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 at Saratoga Race Course and the 1 1/2-mile $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby in September at Belmont.

Tiz the Bomb was last seen finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7, defeated 12 1/2 lengths by upset winner Rich Strike after breaking slowly and finding his best stride late. The Kentucky Derby marked a return to dirt for Tiz the Bomb, who punched his ticket to Louisville with a 2 1/4-length win in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks over synthetic at Turfway Park.

“I thought he really needed to break clean and be positioned to run better in the Derby, but he didn’t disgrace himself,” McPeek said. “It could have gone better, but we gave him his chance, which he deserved.”

The bay son of Hit It a Bomb broke his maiden at second asking in an off-the-turf maiden in July at Ellis Park, splashing home an impressive 14 1/4-length winner. He made his next three outings over the turf, earning wins in the Kentucky Downs Juvenile Mile and Grade 2 Bourbon before finishing a game second to Modern Games in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar to close out his juvenile campaign.

McPeek said that while Tiz the Bomb has shown proficiency over the dirt, he will now focus on turf races going forward.

“I definitely think he’s significantly better on the grass,” said McPeek. “We gave him his dirt try and he’s a lovely horse. I’m excited. These next couple races are really good spots for him – great distances and surfaces.”

Tiz the Bomb, out of the winning Tiznow mare Tiz the Key, was a $300,000 purchase by McPeek at 2020 Fasig-Tipton Selected Yearlings Showcase. He boasts a consistent record of 9-5-1-0 and earnings in excess of $1 million, making him the leading progeny for his sire by earnings.


Early look at probables for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival

Thursday, June 9

$150K Astoria

Probable: Alexis’s Storm (James Lawrence), Devious Dame (Norm Casse), Magic Beauty (James Chapman), Shaymyname (Amira Chichakly)

Possible: Girl Bye (Michael Yates)

$150K Tremont

Probable: Drew’s Gold (Chapman), No Nay Hudson (Wesley Ward), Putthepastbehind (Brian Brooks), Stayhonor Goodside (Mark Casse), Valenzan Day (Rudy Rodriguez), Zelenskyy Strong (Peter Walder)

Possible: Two of a Kind (Brian Lynch)

G2 Wonder Again

Probable: Canisy (Christophe Clement), Consumer Spending (Chad Brown), Linda’s Gift (George Weaver), Myriskyaffair (Clement), Oakhurst (Brown), Skims (Shug McGaughey)

Possible: Vergara (Graham Motion)

Friday, June 10

G2 Belmont Gold Cup

Probable: Abaan (Todd Pletcher), British Royalty (Barb Minshall), Cibolian (Rodolphe Brisset), Loft (Marcel Weiss), Outbox (Archie Watson),

Possible: Original Intent (Bentley Combs), Strong Tide (Michael Lauer)

G2 True North

Probable: Baby Yoda (Bill Mott), Jackie’s Warrior (Steve Asmussen), Night Time (Dale Romans), Sir Alfred James (Norman Cash)

Possible: Prevalence (Brendan Walsh), War Tocsin (Uriah St. Lewis)

G2 Bed o’ Roses

Probable: Glass Ceiling (Charlton Baker), Obligatory (Mott)

Possible: Bell’s the One (Neil Pessin), Bella Sofia (Rodriguez), Easy to Bless (James Ferraro)

G1 New York

Probable: Bleecker Street (Brown), Family Way (Walsh), Lovely Lucky (Tom Albertrani), Rougir (Brown), Virginia Joy (Brown)

Possible: Core Values (Victoria Oliver), Except Temptation (Albertrani), Scarabea (Jack Sisterson)

G3 Intercontinental

Probable: Caravel (Brad Cox), Jouster (Pletcher), Miss J McKay (Clement), Miss Majorette (M. Casse), Nevisian Sunrise (Brown), Robin Sparkles (Bruce Brown), Star Devine (Jorge Abreu), Too Sexy (Clement)

Possible: Change of Control (Michelle Lovell), Leggs Galore (Phil D’Amato)

Saturday, June 11

G1 Belmont Stakes

Probable: Barber Road (John Ortiz), Creative Minister (Kenneth McPeek), Ethereal Road (D. Wayne Lukas), Golden Glider (M. Casse), Mo Donegal (Pletcher), Nest (Pletcher), Rich Strike (Eric Reed), Skippylongstocking (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), We the People (Brisset)

Possible: Brigadier General (Dallas Stewart), Howling Time (Dale Romans)

G1 Jaipur BC WAYI

Probable: Arrest Me Red (Ward), Bound for Nowhere (Ward), Casa Creed (Mott), Filo Di Arianna (M. Casse), Gear Jockey (Rusty Arnold), Gregorian Chant (D’Amato), Greyes Creek (Paulo Lobo), Scuttlebuzz (Rodriguez), Whatmakessammyrun (Mark Glatt)

Possible: Change of Control (Lovell), Omaha City (Amzadali Jehaludi)

G1 Ogden Phipps BC WAYI

Probable: Bonny South (Cox), Clairiere (Asmussen), Letruska (Fausto Gutierrez), Malathaat (Pletcher), Royal Flag (Brown), Search Results (Brown)

Possible: Ce Ce (Michael McCarthy)

G1 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun

Probable: Cogburn (Asmussen), Jack Christopher (Brown), Pappacap (M. Casse), Provocateur (Pletcher), Runninsonofagun (John Toscano), Wit (Pletcher)

Possible: Key Point (Brown)

G1 Longines Just a Game BC WAYI

Probable: In Italian (Brown), Regal Glory (Brown), Speak of the Devil (Brown), Wananaka (Mott)

Possible: Leggs Galore (D’Amato)

G2 Brooklyn

Probable: Fearless (Pletcher), First Constitution (Pletcher), Lone Rock (Robertino Diodoro), Portos (Pletcher), Warrant (Cox)

Possible: Locally Owned (Tom Morley), Max Player (Asmussen), Original Intent (Combs), Strong Tide (Lauer)

G1 Hill ‘n’ Dale Metropolitan Handicap BC WAYI

Probable: Aloha West (Wayne Catalano), Flightline (John Sadler), Informative (Uriah St. Lewis), Speaker’s Corner (Mott)

Possible: Caddo River (Cox)

G1 Resorts World Casino Manhattan

Probable: Adhamo (Brown), Channel Maker (Mott), Gufo (Clement), Highland Chief (Motion), In Love (Lobo), Rockemperor (Brown), Santin (Walsh), Tokyo Gold (Satoshi Kobayashi)

Possible: L’Imperator (Brown)

G1 Acorn

Probable: Dream Lith (Diodoro), Echo Zulu (Asmussen), Matareya (Cox)