Trio of Belmont Stakes Contenders Breeze for Pletcher

June 1, 2024

Mindframe impressive on debut March 30 at Gulfstream Park (Coglianese)

NYRA Press Office

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets four times and will have three chances to claim a fifth with the talented trio of Mindframe, Antiquarian, and Protective. All three colts posted their final works Saturday in preparation for the 10-furlong, $2 million test slated for June 8 at Saratoga Race Course, each breezing over the Oklahoma dirt training track.

Shortly after the track reopened from the first renovation break at 7:30 a.m., Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables’ Mindframe and Repole Stable’s Protective stepped onto the fast surface as the first team to breeze for Pletcher’s set. The two moved down the stretch to the clockers’ stand and stood for a few moments before turning back to the first turn to commence their effort on the backstretch. NYRA clockers caught them through splits of 13.12 seconds, 25.84, and a half-mile in 50.26 before galloping out in 1:02.96 with Mindframe drawing well clear of Protective.

“I was happy with them,” said Pletcher. “They got in a good rhythm, went along steadily with a strong gallop out. Happy and moving well.”

The undefeated Mindframe enters from an impressive wire-to-wire optional claiming victory on May 4 at Churchill Downs, leading at every point of call in the 1 1/16-mile tilt to draw off to a 7 1/2-length score under Irad Ortiz, Jr. The effort earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure and came on the heels of a tremendous debut performance on March 30 at Gulfstream Park that saw him win the seven-furlong sprint by 13 3/4 lengths and garner a 103 Beyer.

Protective enters the Belmont Stakes a maiden after four starts, but has flashed his talents when a deep-closing third in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino, and a stalking third in the Grade 3 Peter Pan two lengths behind stablemate and returning rival Antiquarian on May 11.

Centennial Farms’ Antiquarian had his first and final breeze at Saratoga after spending the last few weeks training with Pletcher’s Belmont Park string. The son of Preservationist went to the Oklahoma shortly after the track reopened at 9:30 a.m. and went through a similar routine as Mindframe and Protective before taking off down the backstretch to commence his work with Grade 1-placed Be You to his inside.

NYRA clockers caught them in splits of 12.79, 24.79, and the half-mile in 49.99 before galloping out int 1:02.73, 1:15.06 and 1:29.20. The two stayed on together through the lane and finished strongly through the wire.

“It was exactly what we were looking for,” said Pletcher. “I thought it was a well-executed breeze and it seemed like both horses were moving well. I liked the way Antiquarian finished, and I really like the way he galloped out. I’m excited about giving him the opportunity to run a mile and a quarter.”

Antiquarian looks to follow the same trajectory as last year’s Belmont Stakes-winner Arcangelo as he enters from a win in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 11 at Belmont at the Big A, the traditional prep for the Belmont Stakes. Antiquarian earned a 92 Beyer for the three-quarter-length score over fellow Belmont Stakes contender The Wine Steward, the same number he received for a troubled sixth in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in March at Fair Grounds Race Course.

Pletcher said he is pleased with how all three of his Belmont Stakes contenders have trained coming into the final leg of the Triple Crown, and that it is a privilege to enter the prestigious test with such a strong hand.

“We’re excited about it,” said Pletcher. “It’s always great to come into these kinds of races with horses who are doing really well. Hopefully, we have enough talent to be competitive.”

Also on the Saturday work tab for Pletcher was Whisper Hill Farm’s dual graded stakes-winner Charge It, who is targeting a title defense in the Grade 2, $350,000 Suburban on June 8. The 5-year-old son of Tapit covered a half-mile in 50.50 seconds over the Oklahoma dirt.

“He’s always a good work horse and worked good this morning,” said Pletcher.

Charge It enters from a third in the Grade 3 Westchester on May 3 at Belmont at the Big A and seeks his first win since taking last year’s Suburban at Belmont Park by 4 3/4 lengths with a frontrunning trip under Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

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