ELMONT, N.Y. – Graded stakes winners Emmanuel and Annapolis breezed a half-mile in company in 48.04 seconds Friday over the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational on July 9 at Belmont Park.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher said he was pleased with the work for both horses, who were making their first breeze back from starts in graded stakes.
“It was a good work. They went in 48 and change, finished up nicely and galloped out well. I was happy with it,” Pletcher said.
WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s Emmanuel captured the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last out on June 4 at Belmont in his first start on grass, besting Napoleonic War by one length with Limited Liability a further length back in third.
The top-three finishers of the Pennine Ridge earned an automatic invite to the 10-furlong Grade 1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series for sophomores.
The Turf Triple continues with the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational on August 6 at Saratoga Race Course and concludes with the $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational in September at Belmont.
Emmanuel, a three-time winning sophomore son of More Than Ready, was previously third in the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland.
Bass Stables homebred Annapolis was defeated for the first time last out while making his seasonal debut over soft going in the Grade 3 Penn Mile on June 3 at Penn National, finishing second to 83-1 upset winner Wow Whata Summer. The son of War Front had won his two previous starts last year, including the Grade 2 Pilgrim at Belmont.
“I thought he ran well. Unfortunately, we caught a lot of rain, and it was an extremely heavy track,” Pletcher said. “It was tough to do that off that layoff, I thought he gave us a good effort. He just couldn’t accelerate that last part with the boggy ground.”
Pletcher captured two editions of the Belmont Derby when it was run as the Jamaica, winning with Take the Points  and Finality . He expressed a sense of optimism in Emmanuel getting the Belmont Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance.
“We were encouraged with the way he handled the mile and eighth, the way he finished and how he’s handled the turf,” Pletcher said. “With the way he breezed this morning, all indicators are that he’s in good form.”
Bred in Kentucky by Helen K. Groves Revocable Trust, Emmanuel is out of the unraced Hard Spun mare Hard Cloth, who is a half-sister to multiple Group 1-winning multi-millionaire Hawkbill and North American graded stakes winner Free Drop Billy. Emmanuel was purchased for $350,000 out of Gainesway’s consignment at the 2020 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
Annapolis is out of My Miss Sophia, a graded stakes winner and dual-surface-winning daughter of Unbridled’s Song who captured the 2014 Grade 2 Gazelle at Aqueduct. Annapolis is a full-brother to stakes-placed Nevisian Sunrise.
Pletcher said he plans on running Shahama, who finished sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks, in the Grade 2, $250,000 Mother Goose on June 25 at Belmont. The Munnings bay was unbeaten in four starts in the United Arab Emirates, where she raced for former conditioner Fawzi Nass and captured the Group 3 UAE Oaks in February at Meydan Racecourse.
Pletcher will pursue a seventh Mother Goose triumph, having won with Jersey Girl , Octave , Devil May Care , Buster’s Ready , Off the Tracks  and Zaajel .
“We zeroed in on the Mother Goose after the Kentucky Oaks and we felt like the mile and a sixteenth suited her a little better than the one-mile Acorn. I’m happy with the way she’s doing,” Pletcher said.
Shahama, owned by KHK Racing, is out of the Belong to Me mare Private Feeling, making her a half-sister to dual champion and champion producer Lookin At Lucky.
Probable starters for the Mother Goose are Favor [Pletcher], Gerrymander [Chad Brown], Juju’s Map [Brad Cox], Midnight Stroll [John Terranova] and Venti Valentine [Jorge Abreu]. Both Nostalgic [Bill Mott] and Radio Days [Shug McGaughey] are listed as possible.
NYRA Press Office
Main Photo: Emmanuel in the Pennine Ridge June 4, 2022. (NYRA/Coglianese)