ELMONT, N.Y. – Cypress Creek Equine, Arnold Bennewith, and Spendthrift Farm’s Keepmeinmind arrived at Belmont on Wednesday with an eye to a potential start in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro said a decision will be made early next week on whether Keepmeinmind will target the Belmont Stakes or the nine-furlong Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 26 at Thistledown
“We still haven’t made a 100 percent decision on if we’re going to run in the Belmont,” said Diodoro. “We wanted to make sure that the horse shipped good, which he did. We want to get him a couple days over the track and make sure that he likes the surface, otherwise we’ll sit tight and wait for the Ohio Derby.
“He did train well this morning at Belmont,” added Diodoro. “So, we’ll give it another day or two and then give him a little breeze on Monday.”
The Kentucky-bred son of the late Laoban graduated in style with a last-to-first rush to win the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at fourth asking in November at Churchill Downs to close out his juvenile campaign.
Winless in four sophomore starts, including a fifth in the Grade 2 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland, the late-running bay finished seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and closed to finish fourth last out in the Grade 1 Preakness after a troubled start.
Diodoro said Keepmeinmind has been unlucky at the gate on race day and seems to do his best work when making one late run.
“In the mornings, he pops out of the gate like nothing,” said Diodoro. “He’s a laid back horse and I think if we rush him early he won’t have the finish. We tried that in the Blue Grass and when the running started, he just had no kick.”
Keepmeinmind would provide his conditioner, and jockey David Cohen, with their first respective Belmont Stakes start.
“He bounced out of the Preakness race really well and here we are at Belmont,” said Diodoro. “We’ll play it by ear over the next few days and let him tell us if he’s ready to go.”
Diodoro will saddle Flying P Stable’s Lone Rock in the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational presented by Northwell Health, a 12-furlong test for 4-year-olds and up on Big Sandy as part of the Belmont Stakes Day undercard.
The 6-year-old Majestic Warrior gelding has won his last two starts at the Brooklyn distance, winning an optional-claimer at Oaklawn Park and the Isaac Murphy Marathon at Churchill under returning rider Ramon Vazquez.
The well-traveled gelding, who boasts a record of 32-10-3-2, was claimed back by Diodoro for $40,000 out of a winning effort at Churchill going a one-turn mile in November. The veteran conditioner said he’s learned a lot about the horse in his second stint through the barn.
“The further you gallop him in the mornings, the stronger he gets. He’s a horse that thrives on training,” said Diodoro. “That’s the sign of a horse that wants to run a distance. This horse has got better and better on us. We’re really happy with him.”
Diodoro said Cypress Creek Equine’s Ava’s Grace, a sophomore daughter of Laoban, is targeting the Grade 2, $250,000 Mother Goose, a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-old fillies on June 26.
A maiden winner on debut travelling five furlongs on July 3 at Ellis Park, Ava’s Grace followed with a prominent third in the 6 1/2-furlong Grade 2 Adirondack in August at Saratoga. The talented bay has made a pair of starts at Oaklawn to kick off her sophomore campaign, including a second last out in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Fantasy on April 3.
“Our plan is the Mother Goose, but we’ll let her tell us when she’s ready,” said Diodoro. “We need to get a couple works into her. She’s a really nice filly and she wants to run two turns. She’s fairly fresh and we’re hoping for big things this summer with her. There’s a couple two turns races this summer at Saratoga for her.”
Belmont Park Notes