G1 Caesars Belmont Derby next starts under consideration for a bevy of older horses
ELMONT, N.Y. – Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher breezed Emmanuel and Annapolis five-eighths in company over the Belmont inner turf in 59.81 seconds Friday in preparation for the 10-furlong Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the Caesars Turf Triple series set for July 9.
WinStar Farm and Siena Farm’s Emmanuel captured the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge last out on June 4 at Belmont, while Annapolis, winner of the Grade 2 Pilgrim in October here, finished second most recently in his seasonal debut over soft going on June 3 in the Grade 2 Penn Mile.
Pletcher said he liked what he saw from the breeze but could consider sending Annapolis to the one-mile $100,000 Manila on July 4 with an eye to the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6.
“It was excellent from both,” Pletcher said. “My biggest concern for Annapolis is it’s only his second start off the bench. We’ll see how he bounces out of it. We could go in the Manila and that would set him up for the Saratoga Derby. Emmanuel certainly deserves a try after the Pennine Ridge.”
Pletcher noted that Whisper Hill Farm’s Grand Sonata, winner of the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy in February at Gulfstream, is also under consideration for the Belmont Derby.
The Pletcher barn is loaded with a talented group of older routers, including New York-bred Americanrevolution, who is pointed to the nine-furlong Grade 2 Stephen Foster on July 2 at Churchill Downs; and Dynamic One, who will target the 10-furlong Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban on July 9 at Belmont Park.
Pletcher said CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm’s Grade 1 Cigar Mile-winner Americanrevolution should improve off his fourth-place finish to the victorious Dynamic One last out in the nine-furlong Blame at Churchill Downs.
“It was maybe a better race than it looks on paper. He was pretty wide on both turns – figure wise, it came back solid,” Pletcher said of the effort that garnered the 4-year-old Constitution chestnut a 94 Beyer in his seasonal debut. “I think he took all the worst of it there off the layoff and adjusted schedule late. He should be ready to make a move forward.”
Pletcher said a good effort in the Suburban would set Dynamic One up for a start in the Grade 1, $1.25 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 3 at Saratoga which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Keeneland.
“We like the idea of going a mile and a quarter in the Suburban and then waiting for the Jockey Club Gold Cup at a mile and a quarter,” Pletcher said.
Multiple graded-stakes winner Fearless and graded-stakes winner Happy Saver breezed a half-mile in company in 50.88 Friday over the dirt training track, while the graded-stakes placed duo of Untreated and Vindictive worked five-eighths in company Friday in 1:01.66 on the same course.
Pletcher said he is continuing to sort out plans for the group, which could include the Suburban as well as the nine-furlong Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap on July 9 at Prairie Meadows.
“I haven’t totally sorted it out, but right now Americanrevolution goes in the Stephen Foster and Dynamic One in the Suburban,” Pletcher said. “I have to decide what I’m doing with Untreated and Vindictive and Happy Saver and Fearless. Both Happy Saver and Fearless had an easy half this morning.”
Pletcher said he was particularly impressed by the work from Untreated.
“Untreated worked well. All the horses are doing well, it’s just a matter of getting them in the right spot,” Pletcher said. “All those horses can handle a mile and a quarter, no problem. I also think they can be just as effective at a mile and an eighth. We just have to try and split them up a little bit and find the best spot for each one. Untreated and Vindictive could be possible for the Suburban or something like the Cornhusker.”
Pletcher noted that the versatile multiple Grade 1-winner Mind Control, who won the Grade 3 Salvator Mile on June 18 at Monmouth, could target the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth Cup on July 23.
NYRA Press Release
Photo of Emmanuel winning the Pennine Ridge by Dom Napolitano