Focus Group wins the 2019 Pan American at Gulfstream.
Photo Credit: West Point Thoroughbreds
Trainer Christophe Clement sent out five turf workers on Thursday morning at Belmont Park with an eye to upcoming stakes races at the spring / summer meet.
“I’m delighted to be back in New York and very grateful to have racing,” said Clement, who sent out Call Me Love, Madeleine Must, Arthur Kitt, Gufo and Focus Group for half-mile breezes on the inner turf.
Call Me Love, a 4-year-old British-bred daughter of Sea The Stars, has trained in Florida at Payson Park all winter for Clement and will make her North American debut in the Beaugay. Previously campaigned in Italy, the multiple group-stakes winner went in company with another newcomer Madeleine Must, a French-bred daughter of Motivator who won the Prix de la Cochere at Longchamp in September. Both fillies were clocked in 47.69, the fastest of nine efforts at the distance.
“Call Me Love is being trained for the Beaugay. She came from Italy and she has trained very forwardly all winter long,” said Clement. “She seems to have a lot of quality and it will be exciting to see her race. She may be better suited to a longer distance, but we will see.
“Madeline Must is possible for the Intercontinental,” continued Clement. “She’s eligible for an allowance race, but I thought she worked well. I’ll see how she comes out of it and make up my mind.” The Grade 3, $150,000 Intercontinental, a seven-furlong turf sprint for older fillies and mares, is slated for Saturday, June 6.
Otter Bend Stables promising Declaration of War sophomore Gufo, who won the English Channel last out at Gulfstream Park, is out of the Petionville mare Floy and is a half-brother to multiple graded-stakes winning millionaire Hogy. Gufo was clocked in 51.75.
The Clement stable is blessed with a strong sophomore contingent this meet, which includes Grade 1-winner Decorated Invader. Clement said Gufo and Decorated Invader could square off in the Grade 2, $150,000 Pennine Ridge, a one-mile turf test slated for Belmont Stakes Day June 20. “This is the kind of problem you like to deal with,” said Clement. “They both will train for the Pennine Ridge.
“Gufo worked well today,” added Clement. “He is a very nice 3-year-old and he won a stakes last time at Gulfstream Park.” Clement said he is also considering sending Gufo west for the $150,000 Cinema, a nine-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds on June 6 at Santa Anita Park.
West Point Thoroughbreds, New Phoenix Stable, Louisa Stevenson and Tango Uniform Racing’s Focus Group was also clocked in 51.75. A five-time winner from 17 starts with $494,569 in purse earnings, Focus Group was off-the-board last out in the Grade Pan American at Gulfstream Park. He is pointing to the $80,000 Tiller, a 1 3/8-mile turf route slated for Thursday, June 4.
He could be joined in the Tiller by another Clement newcomer, the 4-year-old Camelot bay Arthur Kitt, who was clocked in 49.03 Thursday morning. Arthur Kitt, who captured the 2018 Chesham at Ascot for former trainer Tom Dascombe, rallied to finish second on April 23 in a Gulfstream Park turf route for Clement.
Another Clement star expected to race early in the meet is Castleton Lyons’ Gucci Factor. Clement said the New York-bred son of Gio Ponti, who won the 2019 Grade 3 Poker, could make his seasonal debut in the Grade 2, $150,000 Fort Marcy set for June 6 at nine furlongs on the Belmont turf.
Patricia Generazio’s 9-year-old homebred Pure Sensation will also be returning to New York with an eye to the Grade 1, $250,000 Jaipur presented by America’s Best Racing. The six-furlong turf test for 3-year-olds and up is slated for Belmont Stakes Day June 20 and offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.
Calumet Farm homebred Casino Grande, a sophomore son of Cairo Prince, is perfect through two starts. The dark bay won on debut in March at Tampa Bay Downs and followed up with a resounding 3 1/4-length win in an optional-claiming mile on May 16 at Gulfstream Park.
Clement said Casino Grande will be pointed to the $80,000 Easy Goer, a 1 1/6-mile test for 3-year-olds set for Thursday, June 25. “He is a very nice horse. We’re pointing him to the Easy Goer,” said Clement. “He won at seven-eighths first time very nicely and second time out he came back at a mile and won well.”
The veteran conditioner said he is continuing to assess which distances will best suit the talented colt. “I’m not sure yet. He’s only had two starts and I’m still learning about him,” said Clement. “I think it would be nice to train him to see if he stays. If he doesn’t, we can come back shorter.”
NYRA Press Release