Limited Liability works for G1 Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational
ELMONT, N.Y. – Hall of Fame Trainer Shug McGaughey enjoyed a graded-stakes exacta as Annette Allen’s Stolen Holiday bested Phipps Stable’s Vigilantes Way by one length in Saturday’s Grade 3 Eatontown, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Monmouth Park.
The 5-year-old War Front mare posted a gate-to-wire score under Jose Lezcano keeping Vigilante’s Way, the 2021 Eatontown winner under Paco Lopez, at bay. Stolen Holiday’s journey was assisted by the scratch of speed presence Por Que No as Lezcano guided the bay through splits of 50.61 and 1:14.22 over the firm going, stopping the clock in 1:43.30.
Stolen Holiday showed speed in an optional-claiming win in February at Tampa before off-the-pace efforts when second in the Sand Springs in April at Gulfstream and sixth in the Grade 3 Beaugay in May at Belmont.
“The speed scratched but she has speed, so I wasn’t surprised she was on the lead,” McGaughey said. “She was in front at Tampa. In the race here [at Belmont] she didn’t pick up her feet on the soft turf, and down at Gulfstream she was sort of jumbled up back in there. I think her best race is when she’s on the lead, but she can be behind.”
Vigilantes Way enjoyed a ground-saving trip from third position under Lopez but couldn’t make up the necessary ground.
“She ran great. There was no pace, and she just didn’t get there,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey said both mares would be outside chances to try the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana going nine furlongs over the Saratoga turf on July 16.
West Point Thoroughbreds, Siena Farm, Bobby Flay and Woodford Racing’s multiple graded-stakes winner First Captain will target the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban Handicap, a 10-furlong test for older horses on July 9 at Belmont.
McGaughey said the long-term goal for the 4-year-old Curlin chestnut is the Grade 1, $1.25 million Jockey Club Gold Cup, a 1 1/4-mile test for 3-year-olds and up on September 3 at Saratoga that offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1, Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.
Out of the graded-stakes winning A.P. Indy mare America, First Captain captured the Grade 3 Dwyer in July at Belmont to complete a hat trick of victories to launch his career. He made a winning seasonal debut in February at Gulfstream sprinting seven furlongs before fading to last-of-7 in the Grade 1 Carter Handicap in April at the Big A.
First Captain added blinkers last out and with jockey Luis Saez aboard for the first time, he closed from sixth to capture the 1 3/16-mile Grade 3 Pimlico Special by a head on May 20.
“He’s doing really well,” McGaughey said. “He was bred to run long on the dirt and with the Carter we got in the position of, ‘where are we going to run him’. That was a mistake and I felt like he may be laid up a little close that day, which he probably doesn’t want. He got back in the Pimlico race, and I think that’s what his running style is going to be.”
McGaughey said the addition of blinkers helped the talented chestnut.
“I galloped him in them at Saratoga last year and I liked what I saw then. We put them on after the Carter and it made a big difference,” McGaughey said.
McGaughey said Joseph Allen’s Radio Days, who was a closing third last out in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan on May 20 at Pimlico, could target Saturday’s Grade 2, $250,000 Mother Goose for sophomore fillies traveling 1 1/16-miles over Big Sandy.
McGaughey, who won the 2005 Mother Goose with subsequent Champion 3-Year-old Filly Smuggler, said Radio Days is likely to breeze Monday at Belmont.
“I’ll see how she works and make a decision,” McGaughey said.
Andrew Rosen’s Skims (GB), a multiple graded-stakes placed sophomore daughter of Frankel, has completed the trifecta in her last two outings, closing from seventh in the Grade 2 Appalachian in April at Keeneland and stalking from second in the Grade 2 Wonder Again on June 9 over yielding going at Belmont.
“She’s pretty tough. She comes out of her races pretty good,” McGaughey said.
The veteran conditioner said Skims could return in Saturday’s $100,000 Wild Applause at one-mile on the Belmont turf or wait for the Grade 3, $175,000 Lake George going the same distance on July 22 at the Spa.
McGaughey sent 11 horses to breeze over the Belmont inner turf Sunday, including Stuart S. Janney homebred Limited Liability, who worked in company with Courtlandt Farms’ Never Explain through a half-mile in 48.20.
“They both worked really well and I thought Limited Liability was exceptional,” McGaughey said.
Limited Liability is targeting the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational, opening leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series on July 9 at Belmont.
The Kitten’s Joy grey has finished third in a trio of graded races, including the Grade 3 With Anticipation in September at Saratoga; the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October at Belmont; and the Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last out on June 4 at Belmont that was won gate-to-wire by Emmanuel.
McGaughey said Limited Liability will appreciate the stretch out to 10 furlongs in the Belmont Derby.
“He ran great last time to close into that kind of pace,” McGaughey said. “He’ll run as far as you want to run, I think.”
Never Explain, a 4-year-old Street Sense colt, will be pointed to an allowance event.
“She’d been trying to bear out a little bit by herself and that’s why I gave her a target, and she was perfect today,” McGaughey said of Stony Point. “She worked really well.”
Baker’s Bay, a 6-year-old More Than Ready gelding out of the multiple graded-stakes winning Giant’s Causeway mare Abaco, posted his last score in a 1 3/16-mile turf allowance in April 2021 at Keeneland. He made his last two starts traveling 12 furlongs over the Gulfstream turf, finishing sixth in the Grade 3 William L. McKnight in January, and fifth in the Grade 2 Pan American in April.
McGaughey said Bakers Bay could try the $150,000 Grand Couturier at 12 furlongs on July 4, while maiden winner Celestial City, who finished second last out in the Jersey Derby on May 29 at Monmouth, will point to an allowance race.
Fort Washington, a multiple stakes-placed sophomore son of War Front, finished fifth last out in the Grade 2 Penn Mile over soft turf at Penn National.
McGaughey said the dark bay may come back in an allowance, while keeping an eye on the Grade 2, $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, a one-mile turf test for sophomores on August 5 at the Spa.
“He caught a real soft turf at Penn National and didn’t like at all,” McGaughey said. “He came back and had a good work today.”
McGaughey said Smokin’ T, a 3-year-old War Front bay who finished second last out in the Audubon on June 4 at Churchill, also worked well.
McGaughey said Winngate Stables’ multiple graded-stakes winner Kathleen O. i s expected to return to Belmont next week. The sophomore daughter of Upstart graduated on debut in November at Aqueduct before winning three consecutive stakes at Gulfstream, including the Cash Run in January, the Grade 2 Davona Dale in March and the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Oaks in April.
Kathleen O. closed to finish fifth last out in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill.
“She is turned out and she’ll be back here in a week or so,” McGaughey said. “Being turned out, she probably doesn’t lose much condition, but there’s no hurry. There’s a lot of good races out there.”
NYRA Press Office
Main Photo: #3 Stolen Holiday ridden by Jockey Jose Lezcano won the $150,000 Grade III Eatontown Stakes. Photo By Ryan Denver/ EQUI-PHOTO