Belmont Stakes contenders Vino Rosso and Noble Indy exited Friday's breeze in good order and remain on target for the "Test of the Champion," said trainer Todd Pletcher on Saturday.
Noble Indy, who now appears to be definite for the Belmont Stakes, will be ridden by Javier Castellano. Vino Rosso will retain the services of John Velazquez.
"That was the kind of Vino Rosso we had seen in the mornings all winter," Pletcher said of his Wood Memorial win. "Before his debut, we were optimistic that he was potentially a nice colt. We liked the way he won his first out and his second out was such an easy race that maybe we got misled a little bit about his affinity for the Tampa surface. I think finally in the Tampa Derby, we figured out that maybe he just didn't like the surface there. Hopefully, we can look forward to the effort he had in the Wood and we'll see the good Vino Rosso show up."
Pletcher said the colt's connections were undeterred by Vino Rosso's Kentucky Derby ninth-place finish.
"We've always felt like the mile and a half was going to suit him well," said Pletcher. "He's closely related to Commissioner, who ran a big race in the Belmont here. He's a son of Curlin, who also ran a big race in the Belmont, so it gives us optimism that he'll handle the distance.
"I don't think his Derby was a bad race," he added. "It seemed he never really enjoyed the going and he wasn't beaten a horrible amount. I said afterwards that I don't think I've ever had a horse come back from a race with as much mud as he had in his eyes. We kept flushing them and flushing them, trying to clean them out for days, and mud just kept coming out. I thought in spite of that, he ran a steady race. He never could get any traction to make an impact."
Vino Rosso and Noble Indy are both scheduled to turn in their final works for the Belmont on Friday, weather-permitting, said Pletcher.
Hofburg Day Off
Following his Friday breeze, Belmont Stakes hopeful Hofburg earned a light day walking the shedrow at Saratoga on Saturday.
"He looked good this morning," Mott said. "He had a good, solid work yesterday, so we gave him a day off from the track."
The Juddmonte Farms homebred will go back to galloping tomorrow, Mott said, and build up to his next breeze, which could come Friday, Saturday or Sunday depending on the weather in the Capital Region.
"Hopefully, one out of the three days, we'll get a good one," Mott said.
Edited NYRA release