True Timber (Calumet Farm) will attempt his first stakes victory when facing a wide-open field of 7 assembled for Saturday's 39th running of the Grade 2, $300,000 Kelso Handicap over the main track at Belmont Park.
The one-turn mile for 3-year-olds and upward pays homage to the five-time Horse of the Year from 1960-64. Owned by Allaire du Pont's Bohemia Stable and trained by Carl Hanford, Kelso won the Jockey Club Gold Cup five times in said years. In addition, Kelso was a three-time winner of both the Woodward and Whitney. His unprecedented accomplishments earned him induction into the Hall of Fame in 1967.
||Pat On the Back
|Claude McGaughey III
||Tale of Silence
True Timber enters the Kelso off of a six-month layoff having not raced since finishing ninth in the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on March 30 at Meydan Racecourse. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the 5-year-old bay son of Mineshaft has placed against graded stakes company four times, most recently when running second to last year's Kelso winner Patternrecognition at 31-1 odds in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.
"He's been doing very well and we're happy with him. He's ready to get going," McLaughlin said. "He needed more time off after Dubai than most do but he's training well. It's a tough race but he's up for the task and he should run well. Luckily, we have patient owners that allow us to give him the time that he needs."
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Marc C. Ferrell, True Timber is out of the unraced Tiznow broodmare Queen's Wood and was purchased for $170,000 from the 2014 Keeneland November Sale.
True Timber will be ridden by Joe Bravo from post 2.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, a three-time winner of the Kelso, will saddle Daniel McConnell's Prince Lucky, who makes his first start since winning the State Dinner on closing day of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet.
The 4-year-old gelded son of Corinthian kicked off his 2019 campaign with a pair of graded stakes victories at Gulfstream Park in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope on February 23 and Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Mile on March 30. Both performances resulted in triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures. Bred in Pennsylvania by his owner, Prince Lucky is out of the Great Notion broodmare Lucky Notion.
Prince Lucky will emerge from post 5 under Hall of Famer and seven-time Belmont leading rider John Velazquez, who seeks his third Kelso triumph.
Shortleaf Stable's Plainsman will make his second start for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey when breaking from post 6. The bay son of Flatter has passed through the hands of trainers William Van Meter and Brad Cox. In his final start for Cox, Plainsman won the Grade 3 Discovery in November at Aqueduct. Last out, he was second against allowance company at Saratoga on August 15 finishing two lengths behind graded stakes winner Uncontested.
A $350,000 purchase from the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, Plainsman is out of the Street Sense broodmare S S Pinafore. He will be ridden by defending Belmont Park leading rider Jose Lezcano.
Boasting the highest amount of lifetime earnings in the field is Harold Lerner's Pat On the Back, who has banked $936,032 in 25 starts and eight wins. The New York-bred son of Congrats has only notched stakes wins against his Empire State-bred counterparts including the Affirmed Success and Commentator at Big Sandy in the spring, as well as last year's Empire Classic.
Jockey Dylan Davis will pilot Pat On the Back from post 3.
Completing the field are Tale of Silence [post 7, Javier Castellano], Monongahela [post 1, Eric Cancel] and Golden Brown [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche]. Both Monongahela and Golden Brown are cross-entered in the $150,000 Parx Dirt Mile at Parx Racing on Saturday.
The Kelso is slated as Race 10 on Saturday's 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. Eastern time.