Big Belmont Update: Final breezes and schoolings happening

June 5, 2022

The contenders for the 154th Belmont Stakes are wrapping up their final works and schoolings in the paddock and gate. Post Positions will be drawn on Tuesday, June 7 at 11 AM EDT. You can watch on NYRA.com as well as the NYRA YouTube channel

2022 Belmont Stakes Likely Field

HORSE TRAINER KD* PS** OTHER
Creative Minister Ken McPeekx2nd1st 11/16m AOC
Golden Glider Mark Cassexx2nd Peter Pan
Mo Donegal Todd Pletcher5thx1st Wood Mem.
Nest Todd Pletcherxx2nd Ky. Oaks
Rich Strike Eric Reed1stx3rd Jeff Ruby
Skippylongstocking Saffie Joseph, Jr.x4th3rd Wood Mem.
We the People Rodolphe Brissetxx1st Peter Pan

*Kentucky Derby **Preakness Stakes

Golden Glider during his morning work (screen shot)

Golden Glider posts final Belmont breeze 

Golden Glider, owned by Gary Barber in partnership with Manfred and Penny Conrad, breezed a half-mile in 49.90 Sunday over Big Sandy in preparation for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11.

NYRA clockers caught Golden Glider, with exercise rider Kylie Wellington up, through a quarter-mile in 26.20 and out in 1:02.80.

Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, who won the 2019 Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston, said he was pleased with the work.

“I thought he worked really well. He settled early, which is what you want out of a Belmont horse, and flew home,” Casse said.

The Ghostzapper chestnut was off-the-board in a trio of graded starts on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis [5th], Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby [4th] and Grade 1 Blue Grass [4th].

He finished a distant second last out to returning rival We the People in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14 in the traditional local prep for the Belmont Stakes, which was contested over a good and sealed main track. The top-two finishers of the Peter Pan had their Belmont Stakes entry and starting fees waived.

Golden Glider is following a similar path to Sir Winston, who also graduated at Woodbine and competed in the Tampa Bay Derby [5th] and Blue Grass [7th] before earning a free berth in the Belmont via the Peter Pan [2nd].

Casse said he is confident that Golden Glider will get the distance and that jockey Dylan Davis can work out a stalking trip.

“I’m not worried about the mile and a half, it’s just how long it’s going to take him,” said Casse, with a laugh. “He’s a one-paced type of horse, so I’m hoping he’ll have a similar trip like Sir Winston. In his previous races, Sir Winston used to come from the clouds but in the Belmont, Joel Rosario kept him close enough and I could see the same thing happening Saturday with Dylan.”

Davis, who won his first NYRA riding title at the Aqueduct Racetrack winter meet, will look to secure his first victory in a Triple Crown race.

Golden Glider’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Belmont Park6/5/2022Dirt4F49.90Breezing35/89
Belmont Park5/29/2022Dirt5F1:01.55Breezing8/16
Belmont Park5/8/2022Dirt training4F52.30Breezing11/13
Belmont Park5/1/2022Dirt training5F1:00.01Breezing1/20

Rich Strike focused in Saturday gallop 

Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike showed focus and professionalism in his daily exercise over the main track on Sunday at Belmont Park.

Rich Strike schooled in the Belmont paddock before waiting patiently in the tunnel for his spin around Big Sandy. The Keen Ice chestnut took a few turns around the tunnel in the company of about a half-dozen other trainees and remained unfazed.

Regular exercise Gabriel Lagunes then guided Rich Strike to the center of the racetrack and asked him to gallop one lap around the 1 1/2-mile oval, a cutback from yesterday’s two-mile exercise. Rich Strike motored down the lane with his head down and fully focused on his work, digging into the fast dirt as he passed the finish and eased up just before the turn. 

“We backed him up a half a mile today and tomorrow we’ll probably let him have another two-mile gallop,” said trainer Eric Reed. “He’s definitely enjoying himself and came back really perky. He’s appreciating everything.” 

Saturday was business as usual for Rich Strike, who stretched out to two miles in a gallop over the fast main track at Belmont Park. The son of Keen Ice had been galloping 1 1/2 miles for the past two days and went the extra half-mile in his first time over a dry Big Sandy. 

Trainer Eric Reed watched from the track apron as a calm Rich Strike awaited his turn to step onto the track. With a flock of photographers around him, the chestnut stood quietly beneath the Belmont Park sign at the exit of the tunnel with his regular pony, Stormy, and had his ears forward while he observed the scene. He became a touch excited as he approached the dirt, but never lost his composure and continued without issue under regular exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes. 

“He was great,” said Reed, who has been awaiting the chance to observe Rich Strike over a dry track. “The rider said he was moving good and liked it. When he came down the stretch, I was loving the way he was moving today. He can get into his stride and not get distracted here. We went two miles today and tomorrow we’ll probably back it up a little bit.”

Reed noted that Rich Strike has matured immensely since he posted his memorable 80-1 victory in the Kentucky Derby. 

“We had to stand and wait for the track to open. There were all those horses in the tunnel, and he never paid his mind to anything,” Reed said. “The old Richie would have been tougher than that. The pony has given him a lot of comfort. He and Stormy are buddies.” 

Rich Strike is expected to continue his daily routine of galloping and schooling up until the Belmont Stakes. He will likely school in the paddock during the races on Thursday or Friday.

Rich Strike’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Churchill Downs5/30/2022Dirt5F59.00Breezing1/11
Churchill Downs5/21/2022Dirt4F47.20Breezing7/138
Churchill Downs4/27/2022Dirt5F59.60Breezing3/9
Keeneland4/16/2022Dirt4F48.00Breezing10/106

We the People sails through half-mile drill 

WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH and Siena Farm’s We the People breezed a half-mile in 47.59 seconds Saturday over the Belmont main track with trainer Rodolphe Brisset in the irons.

The bay son of Constitution made his way towards the backstretch of a fast Big Sandy in the company of a pony before breaking off on his own to start the four-furlong drill. NYRA clockers caught We the People marking off a quarter-mile in 24.20 as he continued to move strongly through the turn and into the stretch about three paths from the rail.

Brisset eased up on We the People a few strides before the wire, galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40.

“It was a little fast,” said Brisset as We the People cooled out around the barn. “The track with the moisture in it will carry you. He couldn’t have done it any easier. He was just galloping. He repeated what we’ve been seeing the whole time here. It looked like he really enjoyed it to me. We’ve got to have a good week now.”

The work was the second over Big Sandy for We the People, who had his first drill going the same distance in 48.39 on May 27. The $230,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14 at Belmont, the local prep for the “Test of the Champion.” 

We the People schooled in the paddock on Friday and Brisset said he will repeat the exercise again next week ahead of the Belmont. 

“We’ll monitor the weather and his weight and then we’ll decide – I’m sure I’ll school him at least one more time next week either in the morning or afternoon during the races,” said Brisset. 

We the People enters the Belmont with a 3-for-4 record, his only loss a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby where he rated in fifth and never fired after going five-wide in the turn. He has won his three starts by a combined 21 lengths, highlighted by his 10 1/4-length romp in the Peter Pan. 

Brisset also noted that We the People exited his Saturday breeze in good order and that all is in order for a run in the final leg of the Triple Crown. 

“That was one of his best works ever,” Brisset said of the four-furlong drill in 47.59. “It was a little quicker than what we were looking for, but it didn’t feel like he was going that fast. The way he did it was exactly what you’re looking for a week out from the race. He cleaned his feed tub and got shod, and we’ll bring him back tomorrow to gallop a mile.” 

We the People enters the “Test of the Champion” off an impressive effort in the Grade 3 Peter Pan where he went gate-to-wire over the good and sealed main track to post a 10 1/4-length victory. 

We the People’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Belmont Park6/4/2022Dirt4F47.59Breezing9/66
Belmont Park5/27/2022Dirt4F48.39Breezing10/35
Keeneland5/8/2022Dirt4F48.60Breezing17/54
Keeneland5/2/2022Dirt5F1:00.20Breezing1/9
Keeneland4/24/2022Dirt4F48.60Breezing14/58
Keeneland4/16/2022Dirt4F50.00Breezing69/106

Mo Donegal, Nest breeze half mile in company 

Saturday morning was a busy one for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who breezed a handful of his heavy hitters at Belmont Park, including Mo Donegal and Nest for the Belmont Stakes.

Mo Donegal, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, and Nest, piloted by Jose Ortiz, went to the Belmont training track around 9:30 a.m. and went a half-mile over a fast track in 49.90 seconds. Pletcher caught the pair in splits of 24.80 for the quarter-mile before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven furlongs in 1:27.20.

“I thought it was good. I liked the way they finished and galloped out,” Pletcher said. “Those horses seem to be in good form. This was more of a maintenance work. They had a strong work last week with a big, long gallop out. This week we wanted just a maintenance type of work, which they were able to execute properly.”

Donegal Racing and Repole Stable’s Mo Donegal, a son of Uncle Mo, arrives at the Belmont off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby where he was ten wide at the top of the stretch and made a valiant run to finish only 3 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Rich Strike. 

Nest, owned by Repole, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, is the lone filly in this year’s Belmont coming off a runner-up to Secret Oath in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. A triumph from the daughter of Curlin would make Pletcher, who saddled Rags to Riches to beat the boys in the 2007 Belmont, the only trainer to win dual Triple Crown races with a filly. 

Nest getting a post-work bath and looking pretty stoic. (screen shot)

Nest’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Belmont Park6/4/2022Dirt training4F49.90Breezing68/129
Belmont Park5/27/2022Dirt5F1:02.99Breezing10/11
Belmont Park5/20/2022Dirt training4F50.02Breezing33/46
Churchill Downs4/29/2022Dirt4F48.60Breezing16/69
Churchill Downs4/22/2022Dirt4F49.80Breezing38/62
Mo Donegal enjoying his post-breeze spa treatment. (screen shot)

Mo Donegal’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Belmont Park6/4/2022Dirt training4F49.90Breezing68/129
Belmont Park5/27/2022Dirt5F1:02.99Breezing10/11
Belmont Park5/20/2022Dirt training4F50.02Breezing33/46
Churchill Downs4/30/2022Dirt4F48.60Breezing57/133
Churchill Downs4/22/2022Dirt4F50.20Breezing49/62

Skippylongstocking hits the main track 

Daniel Alonso’s Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico, breezed five-eighths in 1:02.41 Saturday over Big Sandy in preparation for his Belmont Stakes start.

NYRA clockers caught the graded-stakes placed colt working solo under Manny Franco through splits of 25.60, 37.80 and out in 1:15.80 over the fast main track.

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr, who is looking for his first score in a Triple Crown race, said he was pleased with the effort.

“We’re coming back in three weeks, so we weren’t looking for much. We wanted a steady, long and easy breeze and that’s what we got,” Joseph, Jr. said.

Skippylongstocking, a $37,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, is by the stamina-influencing sire Exaggerator, who finished second in the 2016 Kentucky Derby ahead of a win in that year’s Preakness Stakes.

The talented bay has appreciated added ground with his Beyer Speed Figures increasing in each of his last three starts, including an 88 for a nine-furlong optional-claiming win in March at Gulfstream; a 91 for a third-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in April at Aqueduct; and a 94 last out for a fifth-place finish from the outermost post 9 in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico.

“He’s going to need to improve again, or he’ll need some of the others to regress a bit for him to be competitive, but we’re hoping he’ll go over there and run the race of his life,” Joseph, Jr. said.

Franco, who guided New York-bred Tiz the Law to victory in the 2020 Belmont Stakes, will pilot Skippylongstocking in the afternoon for the first-time next Saturday.

Joseph, Jr. said he is hopeful that Franco can work out a stalking trip.

“It seems that in the Belmont it’s hard to make up too much ground. Most of the horses that run well are closer to the pace,” Joseph, Jr. said. “We don’t want to be too far back. So, hopefully he can lay a little bit closer without taking him too much out of his game.”

Skippylongstocking’s recent works

TrackDateCourseDistanceTimeNoteRank
Belmont Park6/4/2022Dirt5F1:02.41Breezing14/18
Palm Meadows Training Center5/13/2022Dirt5F59.60Breezing1/5
Palm Meadows Training Center5/7/2022Dirt5F1:01.30Breezing3/8
Palm Meadows Training Center4/30/2022Dirt4F48.50Breezing5/40

Bonus video! Nest takes a stroll around the barn to let the boys get a look at her impressive physique. Mo Donegal enjoying his spa time.

NYRA Press Office/Edited
Top photo of Nest (outside) and Mo Donegal working in company is a screen shot of provided video.

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