Creative Minister breezes half-mile Belmont prep 

May 31, 2022

Barber’s Golden Glider breezes for the Belmont

ELMONT, N.Y. – Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing and trainer Kenny McPeek’s Magdalena Racing’s Creative Minister recorded his first breeze over Belmont Park’s main track on Tuesday, sailing through a half-mile in 48.33 seconds in his penultimate work for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11. 

McPeek, who sent out Sarava for a 70-1 upset score in the 2002 Belmont Stakes, said he was pleased with the breeze from Creative Minister, who arrived in New York on Wednesday.

“This horse is all class. It was a nice little maintenance half-mile and wasn’t anything complicated,” said McPeek. “We just wanted to let him stretch his legs a little over the track. I think historically it’s a track you’ve got to get used to. I had luck with Sarava training him up there immediately after the Preakness.” 

Creative Minister stepped onto the main track at 5:35 a.m. Eastern with Heman Harkie aboard and stood quietly near the first turn of Big Sandy, ears forward and observing the action around him for about 10 minutes. Harkie then schooled the son of Creative Cause around the first turn and spent a considerable amount of time allowing him to get familiar with his surroundings.

Harkie and Creative Minister continued on to the backside and began the half-mile drill under a light haze and muggy temperatures in the low 70s. NYRA clockers caught Creative Minister marking off a quarter-mile in 24 seconds over the fast track, rolling through without much urging from Harkie. Rounding the turn and heading for the wire, Harkie remained still aboard the grey colt who continued a steady rhythm down the stretch to complete the work in 48.33 seconds, galloping out five-eighths in 1:01 flat. 

“He’s a smart horse. He’s a really smooth traveler,” said Harkie, who has been galloping Creative Minister for the past few days. “You ask him, he’ll take you where you want to go. He handled the surface pretty good. I really like him. He’s got a long, nice stride. It feels great for a rider like me to get on a horse like that. It was such an amazing breeze.” 

McPeek said he is satisfied with Creative Minister’s preparations thus far over Big Sandy. 

“He’s been walking through the paddock every day and galloping a mile and a quarter every day or so with lighter gallops in between,” McPeek said. “Pretty simple stuff.”

Creative Minister was last seen finishing an even third in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 where he was defeated 3 1/2 lengths by Early Voting. He stalked the pace in fifth under Brian Hernandez, Jr. on an inside path before angling out in the turn and making a bid for the lead. He held position well to secure show honors by 2 3/4 lengths over returning Belmont Stakes rival Skippylongstocking. Hernandez, Jr. will retain the mount for the Belmont Stakes.

“It was another big step forward for him,” McPeek said of the Preakness effort. “He showed he fits in with some of the better 3-year-olds in the nation.” 

Out of the Tapit mare Tamboz, Creative Minister is a half-brother to three graded stakes placed runners in Dolder Grand, Oceanwave and Battalion Runner. Six of Tamboz’s eight foals to race have earned at least one stakes placing. Creative Minister was bred in Kentucky by Dell Ridge Farm. 

Golden Glider handily winning an AOC at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 7, 2022. (SV Photography)

Barber’s Golden Glider preps for the Belmont

Golden Glider, owned by Gary Barber in partnership with Manfred and Penny Conrad, breezed five-eighths in 1:01.55 Sunday over Big Sandy in preparation for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on June 11.

“He’s not a flashy workhorse. He’s very workmanlike and I thought it was a good breeze for him,” Casse said.

The Ghostzapper chestnut won his first two career starts, closing from last-of-12 on debut in November at Woodbine Racetrack ahead of an optional-claiming score in January at Tampa Bay Downs. Golden Glider 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 enters from a distant second to We the People in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan, 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.

“I was hoping to get a fast track the other day to see how he got over it, so you come out of there not knowing where you stand because of the racetrack,” Casse said. “But I thought he showed a lot of determination to be second. Obviously, the winner was phenomenal, but you have to question how much of his effort was aided by the racetrack, too. I guess we’ll figure that out on Belmont Stakes Day.”

Golden Glider is following a similar path to Casse’s 2019 Belmont Stakes-winner 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 buoyed by Golden Glider’s improving Beyer figures, having matched up 87s in his last two starts.

“His numbers are always improving. We’ll be a longshot, but he got a free berth and earned his way in there, so we’ll give it a try,” Casse said.

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.

Rich Strike breezed at Churchill before shipping to Belmont

2022 Belmont Stakes Possibles/Probables

HORSE TRAINER KD* PS** OTHER
Barber Road John Ortiz6th  
Creative Minister Ken McPeek 3rd 
Ethereal Road D. Wayne Lukas  1st Sir Barton
Golden Glider Mark Casse  2nd Peter Pan
Howling Time Dale Romans  1st Street Sense
Kuchar Rodolphe Brisset  2nd Oaklawn S.
Mo Donegal Todd Pletcher5th  
Nest Todd Pletcher  2nd Ky. Oaks
Rich Strike Eric Reed1st  
Skippylongstocking Saffie Joseph, Jr. 4th 
We the People Rodolphe Brisset  1st Peter Pan
Western River Rodolphe Brisset  4th Peter Pan

*Kentucky Derby **Preakness Stakes

NYRA Press Office/Edited
Photo: Creative Minister in the stakes barn at Pimlico. (Jerry Dzierwinski/MJC)

An amazing article. Well done @jonathanstettin #ruffian twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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