ELMONT, N.Y. – Rebecca Hillen’s Asymmetric will make his first start for trainer Wesley Ward in Sunday’s $100,000 Paradise Creek for sophomores sprinting seven furlongs over the Widener turf at Belmont Park.
An Irish-bred son of Showcasing, Asymmetric arrives at his American debut off a close seventh-place effort in the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park at Newmarket on September 25 to close out a juvenile campaign that saw him post a 5-for-6 in-the-money record.
Asymmetric was a half-length debut winner in June sprinting six furlongs over good turf at Goodwood before an allowance score two weeks later at Newmarket. He finished second in his stakes debut when bested a head by Lusail in the Group 2 Tattersalls July at Newmarket, but found success in his next outing with a late-running score in the Group 2 Unibet Richmond in July at Goodwood.
The bay colt shipped to France for a start in the Group 1 Darley Prix Morny where he briefly gained the lead but was collared in the final yards to the wire to settle for show honors 1 3/4 lengths back of Perfect Power.
Ward said Asymmetric has made steady progress in his works since arriving to his barn this winter and that a pair of equipment changes have made a difference in his training.
“He took a while to come around,” said Ward. “He came to me with some big accomplishments under his belt. Sometime around Christmas we started him from scratch and got him started at Turfway. He really wasn’t showing much. We train with no shoes but then I added some shoes and some blinkers and he immediately just turned it around.”
Ward said he is hopeful that Asymmetric can handle the stretch out in distance in his first start beyond six furlongs.
“The distance is the only thing that is a bit of a question,” said Ward. “He’s going seven-eighths, and I would have preferred five and a half or six for this horse, but he’s dead fit now and ready to go. We’ll let him settle and ease him out down the stretch and make a run at them. How he ran over in Europe is how I’d like him to run here.”
While the distance may be a concern, Ward said racing around turns for the first time is not.
“He’s been perfect around the turns [in training] and is a really easy horse to train. He doesn’t have any issues and he’s already at Belmont and will be training there all week,” Ward said.
Asymmetric was initially set to square off against fellow Paradise Creek aspirant Big Invasion in the William Walker at Churchill Downs on May 4 but was scratched.
“I kind of wish I had run him because every work since has been great and he’s ready to run a big race,” said Ward.
Irad Ortiz, Jr. gets the call from post 7.
Harrell Ventures’ Chanceux is still seeking his first stakes victory after a third-place effort in the Woodhaven on April 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Speightstown will cut back to sprinting for the first time since his maiden-breaking score at second asking traveling six furlongs over the Aqueduct turf.
“I think seven furlongs should be a good distance for him,” Pletcher said. “He broke his maiden at six, he’s run well going a little longer so it seems like seven furlongs might be ideal.”
Chanceux stretched out to one mile for his first start against winners in the Dania Beach in January at Gulfstream Park and finished a determined second, a head behind stablemate Grand Sonata, who exited that race to win the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy.
The chestnut colt went on to win an allowance optional claimer two starts later at Gulfstream by two lengths before his effort in the 1 1/16-mile Woodhaven where he set the pace and kept on gamely to be nosed out of place honors by Fort Washington.
The well-bred Chanceux is the second foal out of the multiple graded stakes winning Broken Vow mare Rosalind, who won the 2014 Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland and the 2015 Grade 2 Sheepshead Bay over the Belmont inner turf.
Chanceux will exit post 1 with Flavien Prat in the irons.
Reeves Thoroughbred Racing’s dual stakes winner Big Invasion was last seen taking the William Walker at Churchill Downs with an off-the-pace ride from Joel Rosario. The Christophe Clement-trained son of Declaration of War has now won his past three starts by a combined 9 1/4 lengths, beginning with a maiden score at second asking where he earned a field-best 94 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Big Invasion won his stakes debut in the Texas Glitter in March at Gulfstream, stalking one length off the pace before taking a slim advantage at the top of the lane and powering away to a three-length victory. Through four lifetime starts, the bay colt has amassed field-best earnings of $210,295 and boasts a perfect on-the-board record.
Rosario gets the call again from post 4.
Team Valor International’s Maritime Wings will also be making his U.S. debut after completing his juvenile season with an off-the-board effort in the one-mile Group 2 KPMG Champions Golden Fleece in September at Leopardstown.
Trained by Joseph Patrick O’Brien, the chestnut Gleneagles colt was group-placed twice in his native Ireland, earning place honors in the Group 3 Japan Racing Association Tyros and the Group 2 Galileo Irish EBF Futurity at The Curragh. Maritime Wings broke his maiden at first asking at the Paradise Creek distance and will cut back after stretching out to one mile in his latest outing.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride from post 6.
Rounding out the field are maiden winners Carpe’s Dream [post 5, Dylan Davis] and High Front [post 2, Manny Franco], who is cross-entered in Sunday’s Jersey Derby at Monmouth Park. Stakes-placed filly Champagne Poetry [Luis Saez], who is cross-entered in Saturday’s Grade 3 Soaring Softly at Belmont, is entered for the main track only.
The Paradise Creek, which is named in honor of the multiple graded stakes winner and 1994 Champion Grass Horse, is slated as Race 8 on Sunday’s nine-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern.
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Belmont Park Press Release
Photo: Belmont scenic turf, (FL Photo)