â€¢ Pletcher trio work toward G1 Belmont Stakes â€¢ Frosted 'all set' for G1 Belmont Stakes
ELMONT, N.Y. - Following the workouts Friday morning from a trio Todd Pletcher-trained horses for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, it appears the two-time Belmont Stakes winning trainer will be represented by all three in the final leg of the Triple Crown on June 6.
"I need to talk to all the connections, but I'm sure everyone is on board with all three of them [running]. We intend to run all three at this moment," Pletcher said outside his Belmont Park barn.
Rider assignments for Carpe Diem, Madefromlucky, and Materiality are still to be determined. Pletcher said John Velazquez and Javier Castellano have both been retained by him for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, but it has yet to be decided whom will ride which horse. Pletcher said he would wait "a day or two" before any further jockey commitments would be made because he wants to evaluate how the horses come out of their works.
Carpe Diem and Madefromlucky were the first to breeze for Pletcher, shortly after 6 a.m.
With Velazquez aboard Carpe Diem and exercise rider Patti Krotenko on Madefromlucky, the pair worked four furlongs over the main track, which was labeled fast.
Carpe Diem worked to the outside of his stablemate and finished about a couple lengths in front of Madefromlucky. Carpe Diem's final time was :47.66 seconds, and Madefromlucky, who was under urging from Krotenko, completed the distance in :47.84, according to NYRA clockers. Carpe Diem's gallop-out time for five-eighths was 1:00.59, while Madefromlucky was clocked in 1:01.10.
"I thought both horses worked well enough today to continue considering the Belmont," Pletcher said. "I didn't see anything that would deter me from it. I'll see how they come out of it, and talk with everybody, but we worked with the intention of running in the Belmont, and I thought they both worked well."
Pletcher remarked that Madefromlucky's work on Friday wasn't as impressive as last Friday's move when he worked in company with Carpe Diem. That day they both worked a bullet :59 for five furlongs, the fastest of 20 works at the distance.
"I don't think this work was as impressive from [Madefromlucky] as last week," added Pletcher. "I think, like a lot of horses, they will tend to work better when they are on the outside [rather] than the inside."
After the renovation break on the main track, Materiality, with Velazquez up, worked in company with Stanford, who is under consideration for the Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
Materiality worked to the inside of Stanford. The final time was :47.78 for both horses. They galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.32.
"I thought [Materiality] worked very well," Pletcher said. "You know, he's the kind of horse who kind of does what his workmate does. It was a very good, progressive breeze, picking it up as they went along, with a very strong gallop out. [Materiality] came back and he wasn't even blowing. He just took it all very well."
* * * Godolphin Racing's Frosted wrapped up his major preparations for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes with a half-mile drill in company with Met Mile contender Tamarkuz on Friday morning.
The Kiaran McLaughlin trainees took to the Belmont main track shortly after the renovation break, minutes after fellow Belmont Stakes hopeful Materiality turned in his final work for Todd Pletcher. Frosted, piloted by exercise rider Lorenzo Morales, broke from the half-mile pole a length ahead of his older workmate, ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. Frosted led throughout the move and hit the wire a half-length in front.
The pair earned an official time of 47.84 seconds while never under asking and galloped out five furlongs together.
"They went great," McLaughlin remarked after the breeze. "[Frosted] worked so well last week with Tamarkuz we decided to do the same thing today. They went 47 and four and [out in five furlongs] in a minute and three fifths. It couldn't have gone better. We're all set."
Group 2 Godolphin Mile winner Tamarkuz is slated to make his North American debut in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap along with fellow McLaughlin charge Bay of Plenty. Bay of Plenty, runner-up in the Grade 3 Discovery Handicap last fall at Aqueduct, made his seasonal debut with a two-length allowance optional victory last month over the local course.
"He had some time off and he came back and won his last race impressively," McLaughlin said. "It's a tough race but we've got to give him a chance."
* * *
Tonalist, who upset California Chrome's Triple Crown bid in last year's Belmont Stakes, took to the Belmont main track Friday morning for his final serious work before the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on June 6.
The bay son of Tapit, trained by Christophe Clement for Robert Evans, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.23 with his regular exercise rider Lee Vickers aboard, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14, according to Clement.
"It was a nice maintenance work; he looked well," said Clement. "I have enough time to give him a little blowout next Wednesday or Thursday - a sharp three-eighths. We're excited for the race."
Tonalist is undefeated at Belmont, with wins in the Belmont, the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup, and the Grade 2 Peter Pan. In his 2015 debut, the 4-year-old colt won the Grade 3 Westchester at Belmont by a widening 3 Â¾ lengths as a prep for the Met Mile on Belmont Stakes Day.
"I've always loved the [Met Mile] because the sprinters stretch out and the 1 Â¼-mile horses cut back. It's a fun race; you get all the best older horses," said Clement.
If Tonalist is to keep his perfect record at Belmont, he'll have to go through a star-studded field that is likely to include last year's Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern; multiple Grade 1 winner Private Zone; last year's Grade 1 Twinspires.com Wood Memorial winner Wicked Strong; 2013 Met Mile winner Sahara Sky; Group 2 Godolphin Mile winner Tamarkuz; multiple graded stakes winners Pants On Fire, Kobe's Back, and Honor Code; and Bay of Plenty.