Daily Belmont Update: Monday, June 3, 2019
Edited by Dick Downey
POST POSITION DRAW - The post-position draw for the 151st Belmont Stakes will take place Tuesday at 5:30 ET at Citi Field before the Mets take on the San Francisco Giants.
BOURBON WAR - He galloped 1 1/8 mile over the main track at Belmont Park.
Meanwhile, since Bourbon War's eighth-place finish the Preakness, trainer Mark Hennig has considered all the factors, from racing for the first time with blinkers to being confused by the circumstances -- mainly the loose horse -- to being unfamiliar with the turns at Pimlico. But he's not come up with a clear answer.
"There's no indication why he threw in that race," said Hennig on Monday morning. "If you look at the chart of the race, he went from eighth, to eleventh, to eighth - maybe when he was taken outside on the backside he thought he was supposed to ease up because he was out of the bridle for about a quarter-mile, then picked it up again in the stretch."
Certainly, said Hennig, there seemed to be no physical reason for it.
"He was not tired at all after the race," said Hennig. "I don't know how much running he actually did. I held him for a bath after the race, and he bit me in the stomach and tore my shirt. He was actually angry after the Preakness."
But, Hennig said, Bourbon War has been nothing but bright and happy since returning to Belmont Park. He turned in a half-mile work in 48.74 seconds on Thursday. On Saturday, the blinkers will be removed, and Mike Smith, a three-time winner of the "Test of the Champion" will be aboard.
"Put a line through the Preakness? Hopefully, that's the right thing to do," Hennig said.
EVERFAST - Preakness Stakes runner-up Everfast covered five furlongs in 1:01 flat at Churchill Downs Monday morning in his final breeze for the Belmont Stakes.
With exercise rider Faustino Aguilar at the helm, Everfast broke off from the half-mile pole and clocked splits of 12.80 24.40, and 48.60 seconds with a gallop out to six furlongs in 1:13.60 and seven furlongs in 1:28. The move was the second for the son of Take Charge Indy in the past six days; he drilled a half-mile in :50.20 at Churchill on May 29.
"Everfast worked great today. It's a mile and a half race, so we crammed two works back to back to make sure he is plenty fit," trainer Dale Romans said. "The way he worked out there this morning, he looked great. He went even early and finished fast and didn't want to pull up, which might be key going into the Belmont."
Monday's work was the fastest five furlongs Everfast has officially recorded dating to last summer.
Though the colt's closing kick nearly got him the win as a 29-1 longshot in the Preakness, Romans said he wouldn't be surprised to see him laying closer in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes, a race where tactical speed is important.
"I would say going a mile-and-a-half, any horse can be where they want. They're going to be going so slowly early on," the trainer said. "I just felt like in the Preakness, even though he was coming off of a sprint, he'd have a strong finishing kick, and it looked like a lot of speed in the race. But I'll let the jockey figure it out in the Belmont.
"In the Belmont, by the time they get to the eighth pole, they are all tired," he added. "It is hard for a horse to kick. So I would think he would be laying a little bit closer."
Romans famously saddled Keen Ice to an upset over Triple Crown hero American Pharoah in the 2015 Travers Stakes. With one win in 11 starts, Everfast has been under the radar for most of his career but did tease of things to come when he ran second at odds of 128-1 in the Holy Bull Stakes on Feb. 2.
"He's coming into it as good as he could be," Romans said. "I didn't see (the Preakness) as big a chance as a lot of the media did. I feel like we are taking a horse that is live...and at the Preakness I think we took a live longshot.
"He showed (in the Holy Bull) then that he could compete with good horses. And like I've said many times now, that once they show it that they can, then don't give up on them."
INTREPID HEART, SPINOFF - Todd Pletcher may not have the precise formula for winning the "Test of the Champion," but with a 3-5-3 record since his first starter in 2000, when Impeachment finished fifth, he appears to have a line on some of the elements.
Pletcher, who won the 1 1/2-mile race in 2007 with the filly Rags to Riches, in 2012 with Palace Malice and in 2017 with Tapwrit, will be saddling both Intrepid Heart, third in the Peter Pan on May 11 at Belmont Park, and Spinoff, second-to-last in the Kentucky Derby.
"In Intrepid Heart's case, literally, since the day he was purchased, the thought was in our minds that this horse is really bred for the Belmont Stakes," he said. "Tapit has had tremendous success as a stallion in the Belmont, and this horse is out of a Touch Gold mare, and Touch Gold won the Belmont.
"He's also a half-brother to Commissioner, who (narrowly) lost in the Belmont," he added. "There's a strong pedigree indication he'll handle the mile-and-a-half."
Intrepid Heart has only started three times, breaking his maiden at Oaklawn Park by 7 3/4 lengths in February, taking an optional claimer at Keeneland in April and finishing third in the Peter Pan after stumbling at the start. On Saturday, he will be sporting blinkers for the first time in a race.
"John has always thought he might need them, especially in his last race," said Pletcher. "His last two works have been with blinkers, and he's seemed a little more focused and a little less distracted by his workmate, but not at all overzealous. And hopefully, his little lack of experience will be offset by the one-and-a-half miles."
Spinoff, a Wertheimer et Frere homebred, was 2-1-1 in four starts heading into the Derby, in which he was wide throughout and faded to finish 18 lengths behind Maximum Security.
"He did not like the sloppy track in the Derby, and he's come back from Churchill Downs and done well since," said Pletcher, whose Tapwrit and Palace Malice both came off off-the-board finishes in the Derby. "His penultimate breeze, I got him galloping out a mile in 1:37 3/5, which again is kind of consistent with the other breezes in other years with horses like Commissioner, Destin, Palace Malice, Rags to Riches and Tapwrit."
Third in the Saratoga Special in his second start as a 2-year-old, the Hard Spun colt posted a front-running win in his 2019 debut at Tampa Bay Downs and then finished second after gaining the lead in the Louisiana Derby.
"We've had very high hopes for him," said Pletcher. "He ran well in the Saratoga Special, and in the Louisiana Derby he got the lead and idled a little bit. In retrospect, the Louisiana Derby is a pretty strong race."
JOEVIA -- Joevia will be entered in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Gregory Sacco confirmed Monday. Sacco said Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount. It will mark Sacco's first-ever trainee in an American Classic.
Joevia's only off-the-board finish in five career starts came in the Wood Memorial, when he caused interference after breaking inward from the outermost post 11.
Joevia, who won his debut in July at Monmouth before running second in back-to-back stakes in the Jimmy Winkfield in February at Aqueduct and the Private Terms on March 16 at Laurel Park, will be making his first start at Belmont and running at longer than 1 1/8 mile. Joevia breezed Saturday at Monmouth Park, where he is stabled, going five furlongs in a minute flat, handily.
Lezcano will be making his fifth career start in the Belmont and first since 2012, when he finished a career-best fourth with Street Life. His previous runners include Monzon (ninth, 2011), Ice Box (eighth, 2010) and Miners Escape (10th, 2009). Lezcano's best-ever finish in a Classic came with Ice Box, who ran second to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby.
Joevia is expected to arrive at Belmont Park on Wednesday after leaving Monmouth Park at around 8:00 Sacco said.
MASTER FENCER - No notes.
SIR WINSTON - No notes.
TACITUS - No notes.
TAX - Trainer Danny Gargan confirmed Tax's status for the Belmont. The Arch gelding will pick up a new rider, Irad Ortiz, Jr.
Tax was given new glue-on shoes and showed enough to now be part of an expected 10-horse field for the third leg of the Triple Crown.
"He looked like a million dollars out there this morning," said Gargan.
Ortiz, Jr. will be making his fifth career start in the Belmont. The 26-year-old won in 2016 aboard Creator and last year piloted Hofburg to a third-place finish.
Tax will be Gargan's first Belmont Stakes trainee. The Wood Memorial runner-up will be making his first start since being placed 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby last month.
WAR OF WILL - Preakness winner War of Will arrived at trainer Mark Casse's barn on the Belmont Park backstretch early Monday morning by van from Keeneland.
"He got here this morning, he walked, and they bathed him," said Casse's assistant Jamie Begg. "He was on his toes when he got in this morning, but he settled in now. He's happy. This barn is good because it's kind of secluded, so it's kind of quiet."
War of Will began his training under the supervision of Begg last summer at Belmont Park.
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, War of Will is out of the Sadler's Wells broodmare Visions of Clarity, who produced Irish Group 1 winner Pathfork and is a half-sister to 1997 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Casse' brother, bloodstock agent Justin Casse, purchased War of Will overseas last May at the Arqana Breeze Up Sale in France for just under $300,000.