â€¢ Tonalist earns career-best 111 Beyer for G3 Westchester win; on target for G1 Met Mile â€¢ Frosted exits Derby fourth-place finish in fine fettle Belmont could be next
ELMONT, N.Y. - Tonalist, who came off a six-month layoff to score a resounding victory in Saturday's Grade 3 Westchester, emerged from the race with a career-best 111 Beyer Speed Figure and will next be pointed to the Grade 1, $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap on June 6, said trainer Christophe Clement.
"Everything is well with Tonalist," reported Clement. "He came out of the race in good order, and I will talk to [owner Robert Evans], but the Met Mile will likely be next. It's exciting."
Tonalist, who was equipped with blinkers for his 4-year-old debut in the Westchester, ran his record to a perfect 4-for-4 at Belmont. His three previous victories came at 1 1/8 miles in the Peter Pan, 1 Â½ miles in the Belmont Stakes, and 1 Â¼ miles in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
He will attempt to join a handful of Belmont Stakes winners who have returned at age 4 to win the Met Mile, a feat accomplished last year by 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice. Gallant Man (1957-58), High Gun (1954-55), Native Dancer (1953-54), and The Finn (1915-16) also won the Belmont and the Metropolitan Handicap in successive years, while Grey Lag won the Belmont in 1921 and the Met Mile in 1923.
Belmont winners Conquistor Cielo (1982), Arts and Letters (1969) and Sword Dancer (1959) all prepped for the "Test of the Champion" in the Met Mile, with Bowling Brook winning those races as a 3-year-old in 1898.
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Frosted came out of his fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby in good shape, according to his trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, and will point to the Grade 1 Travers on August 29 at Saratoga Race Course, with a possible start in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 6 next on his agenda. Breaking from post 12, Frosted lagged well behind a moderate early pace in the Derby, going wide on both turns and closing to be fourth, 3 Â¼ lengths behind winner American Pharoah, and a neck behind third-place finisher Dortmund. "We ran good breaking from a wide post in an 18-horse field and going six-wide on the far turn, and we wish there were more pace," said McLaughlin. "He ran a great race, but we were a little disappointed; we wanted to win." McLaughlin hopes Frosted will follow in the footsteps of one of his former trainees, Jazil, who won the 2006 Belmont after finishing fourth in the Derby. "We're 50/50 right now [to go in the Belmont]," said McLaughlin. "Our ultimate goal is the Travers, but the Belmont is an American classic, and it makes sense from a timing standpoint. The only decision we've made so far is that we won't go in the Preakness." * * * A quartet of graded stakes highlights Saturday's card at Belmont Park, led by the Grade 1, $400,000 Man o' War at 1 3/8 miles on turf for older horses. Also on Saturday are the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds, the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian Handicap for older fillies and mares, and the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay at 1 1/16 miles on turf for older fillies and mares. Heading the Man o' War is last year's winner Imagining, who goes out for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and Phipps Stable. Imagining, a son of Giant's Causeway, has raced twice in 2015, finishing eighth in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap in his seasonal debut, and then taking the Grade 2 Pan American.
Imagining is likely to be met by Hardest Core, winner of last year's Grade 1 Arlington Million, Twilight Eclipse, third in the 2014 edition of the Breeders' Cup Turf, and Biz The Nurse, Blacktype, Hyper and War Dancer. Dynamic Sky is also possible.
The 1 1/8 mile Peter Pan, which Tonalist won last year en route to his victory in the Belmont Stakes, is expected to attract Two Weeks Off, recent winner of an allowance at Keeneland; Outlash, second going 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland last time out, and Combat Diver, who finished fifth in the Private Terms at Laurel Park. Conquest Curlinate, Phenomenal Phoenix, Sakima, and Wisecracker are possible.
Looking to make her 2015 debut in the Grade 3 Beaugay is Moyglare Stud Farm and trainer Christophe Clement's Discreet Marq. A 5-year-old mare by Discreet Cat, Discreet Marq returns to the races after an eventful 2014 campaign which last saw her finish third in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar in November. Also expected for the race is Chad Brown trainee Testa Rossi, winner of the Grade 3 Lambholm South Endeavor Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, Recepta for Phillips Racing Partnership, Radiator for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, and Photo Call, J Wonder, Cushion, and A Little Bit Sassy . Grade 1 Madison winner Princess Violet is likely to face a quintet of talented fillies in the Grade 2 Ruffian.
Princess Violet will square off against House Rules, who enters the race seeking her fourth stakes win of the year, having won the Grade 3 Top Flight Handicap on April 11 at Aqueduct Racetrack. Other probables include Shayjolie, winner of the Cat Cay at Aqueduct; Before You Know It for trainer Claudio Gonzalez, and the Godolphin Stable entry of Via Strata, perfect in three lifetime starts, and Wedding Toast