Far Bridge Breezes for G1 Manhattan

May 31, 2024

Far Bridge captures the Belmont Derby (G1) July 8, 2023, at Belmont Park (NYRA/Coglianese)

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Turf works for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival kicked off Friday and trainer Christophe Clement sent out Grade 1-winner Far Bridge and last-out allowance winner Champagne Juan to breeze five furlongs in company over the Oklahoma turf training track at Saratoga Race Course.

LSU Stables’ Far Bridge, who won last year’s Grade 1 Belmont Derby in June at Belmont Park for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, maintained a head in front to the outside of his workmate to cover the five-eighths in 1:00.25. R.T Racing Stable’s Champagne Juan was close behind on the inside, covering the ground in 1:00.65.

“It was a good work. Both were helping each other,” said Miguel Clement, the assistant and son of Christophe. “On the bridle, doing it the right way. This is the type of work you like to see ahead of a big race.”

Clement said Far Bridge is checking the right boxes before a start in the Grade 1, $1 million Resorts World Casino Manhattan, a 1 3/16-mile test for older horses on June 8 Belmont Stakes Day at Saratoga Race Course.

The 4-year-old English Channel bay finished fifth in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Turf Classic on May 4 at Churchill Downs after breaking a beat slowly and being brushed by a rival at the start. It marked his second start back for Clement after winning a 1 1/16-mile turf optional claimer on March 31 at Gulfstream Park. Far Bridge made his first two starts for Clement before moving to the Pletcher barn last year.

“He is doing very well. He was a bit unlucky at Churchill,” said Clement. “He’s trained forwardly since then and it is time to go again.”

Champagne Juan is entered in the Grade 2, $250,000 Belmont Gold Cup on Thursday June 6 Opening Day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course. The race now offers the winner an automatic berth into the Group 1, AUD$8.4 million Lexus Melbourne Cup on November 5, 2024, at Flemington Racecourse in Victoria, Australia.

Champagne Juan graduated going 1 3/16 miles over the all-weather-track in January at Gulfstream ahead of a third there versus optional claiming company going 12-furlongs over the turf in February. He returned to that distance to capture an allowance on April 25 at Keeneland.

Silver Skillet wins the Suzie O’Cain Aug. 16 at Saratoga (Susie Raisher)

Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Tango Uniform Racing and Steven Rocco’s New York-bred Silver Skillet completed her third work at Saratoga since a fourth in an open-company Aqueduct allowance in April when breezing five furlongs in 1:02.55 Thursday over the Oklahoma dirt training track.

The 4-year-old Liam’s Map gray is probable for the state-bred, $125,000 Mount Vernon, a one-mile turf test for older fillies and mares on Sunday June 9, New York Showcase Day at the Spa.

“She is a go ahead for the stakes on the Sunday. She is doing remarkably well, she has had three great works since her last race, and we do expect to see a much better performance,” said Clement. “I still think she can run against open company.”

Silver Skillet won her two starts at Saratoga last summer, both versus fellow New York breds, taking a one-mile allowance and the 1 1/16-mile Suzie O’Cain. She capped her sophomore campaign with a fourth in the Grade 3 Pebbles in November at Aqueduct after a pair of seconds in the open-company Listed Winter Memories and off-the-turf state-bred Ticonderoga, both at the Big A.

“She just missed winning a graded stakes last year in the fall. Her comeback race, you just have to forgive it with too much going against her: the pace, she was at the back, was keen,” Clement explained. “If you look at the sectional times, she actually finished the fastest, just maybe had too much to do.

“She is training at a different level at the moment. She is training very well,” Clement added.

Cheyenne Stable and John O’Meara’s Roses for Debra breezed a half-mile Friday in 49.55 seconds over the Oklahoma dirt training track. The 5-year-old Liam’s Map gray won her seasonal debut in the 5 1/2 furlong Grade 3 Giant’s Causeway on April 13. 

Last year, Roses for Debra’s campaign that featured wins in the Grade 3 Caress and Listed Smart N Fancy at Saratoga came to a close with an off-the-board effort versus males in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint. She is pointing to a start against the boys in the Grade 1, $500,000 Jaipur presented by Resolute Racing on Saturday, June 8. The 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint for 3-year-olds and up offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

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