Grade 1 Belmont Derby pacesetter Hard Love in need of stronger splits
ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Charlie Appleby sent out Althiqa and Summer Romance to a one-two finish in the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game on June 5 going one mile on turf for fillies and mares.
On Sunday, the 4-year-old fillies breezed a half-mile in company in 52.55 over the Belmont inner turf rated good. Althiqa started out in front of her stablemate with Summer Romance making up ground through the stretch run, galloping out in front.
Appleby’s travelling assistant Sophie Chretien said Summer Romance benefits from having a target.
“She relaxes more from behind and it’s better for her to develop,” said Chretien. “They’re both doing very well. With the way the weather has been lately, I’m glad we were able to do the gallop today.”
Both fillies are preparing for a start in the nine-furlong Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 17 at Saratoga.
G1 Belmont Derby pacesetter Hard Love in need of stronger splits
Hard Love winning the Woodhave at Aqueduct on April 17, 2021. (Joe Labozzetta)
Robert LaPenta, Augustin Stable and Madaket Stables’ Hard Love finished seventh after setting a moderate pace in Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational.
With Manny Franco up, Hard Love reached three-quarters in 1:17.26 before being swarmed by a number of rivals, finishing 4 1/2-lengths back of the victorious Bolshoi Ballet.
Thomas said going forward he would prefer the Kitten’s Joy ridgling to be more aggressive on the front end.
“I think it was a combination of the turf being a little bit soft – and it certainly wasn’t Manny’s fault – but I would rather have gone three-quarters in 1:13 and not 1:17,” said Thomas. “One thing we know about him is that he doesn’t have a sub-23 turn of foot. It turned into a quarter-horse race from the quarter-pole to the wire. It becomes a question of if he’s good enough. I just wish we had got some separation. Against top horses like that, you don’t want to make it easy on them.
“I’d rather have been five in front turning for home and come get me,” Thomas added. “If he had that turn of foot, it’s a great ride. Now we know he just needs to kick on.”
Thomas said Hard Love came out of the race in good order and will consider entering the Grade 1 Saratoga Derby, second leg of the Turf Triple series, slated for August 7.
Top Photo: Althiqa winning the Just a Game at Belmont on June 6, 2021. Chris Rahayel)