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Multiple graded stakes-winner Call Paul will look to maintain the consistent success that has marked the start of his career when he competes against a seven-horse field of talented 3-year-olds in the sixth running of the $100,000 Gold Fever contested at six furlongs on the Belmont Park main track on Sunday.
Owned by Michael Dubb, David Simon, Bethlehem Stables and Bruce Irom, Call Paul has never finished off the board in seven career starts, going 4-0-3, with all four wins and one runner-up finish in five career starts at under a mile.
Race 8 at Belmont Park on Sunday, May 12 - Post 5:18 PM
|1||Call Paul||5-2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|4||Much Better||4-5||Javier Castellano
|5||Mount Travers||20-1||Jose Ortiz
|7||Wendell Fong||10-1||Jorge Vargas, Jr.
The Jason Servis trainee has only failed to win once at seven furlongs or shorter, posting a third-place finish behind fellow Gold Fever-entrant Much Better and Mind Control in the Grade 3 Bay Shore last out on April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack. The Friesan Fire colt started his sophomore campaign with a 1 ¼-length win in the Grade 3 Swale on February 2 at Gulfstream Park, building on a juvenile season in which he won his first two career starts, including the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in his second career start in August at the Spa.
In his only previous start at Belmont, Call Paul ran third in the one-mile Grade 1 Champagne in October. The Pennsylvania-bred has amassed nearly $400,000 in career earnings to lead the field.
Irad Ortiz, Jr., aboard for the Saratoga Special, Champagne, and a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Nashua in November at the Big A, will be in the irons from the inside post.
Three Chimneys Farm's Much Better is coming off his best performance in a graded stakes, running second as the favorite in the Bay Shore. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Much Better earned a personal-best 95 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
Much Better raced on turf as a 2-year-old, including second in the Zuma Beach in October at Santa Anita Park and 14th in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs following a troubled trip.
To start his 3-year-old year, Baffert moved the Pioneerofthe Nile colt to back dirt, resulting in a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Sham on January 5 at Santa Anita. The Kentucky homebred, second in the Bay Shore, will be making his first start at Belmont. His connections said a good race in the Gold Fever could lead to a return engagement, with the Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens on Belmont Stakes Day.
"His works have been pretty good and he's filled out and strengthened," said Doug Cauthen, Three Chimneys Farm's vice chairman. "We're hoping he can have a really good race and it can lead to the Woody Stephens and maybe the [Grade 1, $500,000] H. Allen Jerkens [August 24 at Saratoga].
"He won his first race on the dirt and the move to turf was sort of a lateral move," he added. "Bob, at the time, thought he wasn't as physically developed. He's a big, strong, impressive horse, but it's taken him a little time to fully fill out. I think he was just buying some time to get him further down the road where he could get him back on the dirt and hopefully run in those top races. But you have to earn that first."
Much Better, purchased for $600,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Sale, will break from post 4 with Hall of Famer Javier Castellano picking up the mount.
"The hope is with time and maturity, we're hoping he can stretch out," Cauthen said. "We're tying to let him do what he does naturally. He's a naturally fast horse. Hopefully, he can carry it enough to get seven furlongs in some of these races. If he fills out, we'll see what Bob has in store for him."
Starlight Racing's Sombeyay, also a graded stakes-winner after capturing the Grade 3 Sanford in July at Saratoga, will return off a seven-month layoff. The son of Into Mischief is coming off consecutive fourth-place finishes in Grade 1 races, including the Hopeful in September and last out in the Breeders' Futurity on October 6 at Keeneland.
Somebeyay, purchased for $230,000 at the 2017 Keeneland Yearling Sale, won his debut at 4 ½ furlongs in April 2018 at Gulfstream Park and ran second in his first stakes start nearly six weeks later, finishing three-quarters of a length back to Our Braintrust in the Tremont as part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival in his Belmont Park debut.
Jockey Luis Saez will have the mount, drawing post 3.
Gold Square's Wendell Fong will be returning to stakes company after defeating optional claimers on March 15. Trained by Jeremiah Englehart, Wendell Fong will be racing away from Laurel Park for the first time, with the son of Flat Out drawing post 7 with regular rider Jorge Vargas, Jr. making the trip.
"We've had him down at Laurel and he's been doing well racing down there," Englehart said. "We felt his last effort deserved to earn him a shot in the stakes race. He seems to be improving and rebounded off his first stakes try at Laurel, so we'll see what we can do here on Sunday."
Rounding out the field is Mount Travers, trained by Linda Rice, from post 5; Kosciuszko, conditioned by Patrick Quick, out of post 6; and the Christophe Clement-trained Releasethethunder [post 2].
The Gold Fever is carded as Race 8 on Sunday's nine-race card, with an approximate post time of 5:18 p.m Eastern.
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