Saratoga Notes - Brilliant Speed Prepares For Jim Dandy
By New York Racing Association
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Grade 1 Blue Grass winner Brilliant Speed, most recently third in the Belmont Stakes, breezed five furlongs in 1:02.69 this morning over the Saratoga Race Course main track in preparation for next Saturday’s Grade 2, $500,000 Jim Dandy.
“We have been pleased with the way he has been training,” said Tom Albertrani, who trains the Dynaformer colt for Live Oak Plantation. “We gave him a little time off and kept him in light training after the Belmont. I backed off his workouts. He has always been a light-framed horse, so we didn’t have to do a lot with him. He appears fit and he got a lot out of the work today. He broke off nice and easy. After the three-eighths pole, he picked it up and galloped out well. He came back in good shape.”
The 1 1/8 mile Jim Dandy, the traditional prep for the Grade 1 Travers on August 27, is also expected to attract Grade 2 Peter Pan winner Alternation; Moonshine Mullin, recent winner of the Victoria Park at Woodbine; Grade 3 Matt Winn winner Scotus; Belmont runner-up Stay Thirsty; Tech Fall, fourth in the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont, and either Dwyer winner Dominus or Preakness third-place finisher Astrology from trainer Steve Asmussen’s barn.
Albertrani said he was expecting a good performance from Brilliant Speed, who is 2-2-3 from 10 lifetime starts.
“It looks like he’s just getting better with every race and I would certainly expect to see him run another good race,” said Albertrani. “I’ve been happy with his last two races, the Belmont and the Derby, I couldn’t fault the surface. Hopefully again he might improve a little a little more and this might be the next step toward the Travers.”
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A week out from the Jim Dandy, trainer Steve Asmussen has yet to decide whether he’ll run Dominus, victorious in the Grade 2 Dwyer at Belmont Park on July 2, or Astrology, winner of the Grade 3 Iroquois as a 2-year-old and third in this year’s Grade 1 Preakness, in the 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds.
Asmussen said he will likely send one to the Jim Dandy and the other to the following day’s Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park and will base his decision based off wherever he thinks “is the best fit and will benefit both of them the most.”
Both sophomores are owned by Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton, with Spendthrift Farm also owning a piece of Dominus.
“They are both quality 3-year-olds with common ownership interests,” added Asmussen, who didn’t provide a timetable on when he’d make a decision. “We want to maximize both horses.”
Meanwhile, Asmussen’s 3-year-old sprinters, Justin Phillip and Wine Police, are on target for the Grade 2, 6 ½-furlong Amsterdam on August 1.
Zayat Stables’ Justin Phillip was off the board in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star around two turns at the Fair Grounds, but has turned the corner since his connections decided to focus on one-turn events, finishing third in the Grade 3 Bay Shore and Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct and taking the Grade 2 Woody Stephens presented by VisitNassauCounty.com by 3 ¼ lengths on June 11.
“We tried to stretch him for the money, basically, and backed him up for success,” said Asmussen.
J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s Wine Police, shelved after taking his debut by 7 ¾ lengths and finishing third in the Grade 1 Three Chimneys Hopeful last year at Saratoga, has raced once this year, winning a Churchill Downs entry-level allowance by 2 ¼ lengths on June 24.
“He’s had three solid races, he likes Saratoga, so we have that going for him,” said Asmussen. “He’s done well since his race at Churchill. There are a lot of reasons why he should run well.”
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Pin Oak Stable’s Alternation turned in his final timed workout for next Saturday’s Jim Dandy, breezing five furlongs on the main track under Ramon Dominguez in 1:01.78.
“I thought he went well this morning,” said trainer Donnie Von Hemel. “He finished real good down the lane and Ramon was happy, said he was good and smooth and everything is set for next weekend.”
Winner of the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 14, the Distorted Humor colt was briefly considered for the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, but his connections ultimately decided against running back in the 1 ½-mile “Test of the Champion.”
“It was one of those things where we had to decide did we want to try the Belmont or just back off it and come and try a couple of races here, and we chose the latter,” said Von Hemel. “He got here on Monday and we might let him gallop out or something before the race, but that’s probably the last work.”
Alternation has been a regular on the worktab at Arlington Park, his home track, since the Peter Pan, turning in works ranging in distance from a half-mile to seven-eighths.
“The fact that we haven’t run since May we knew we had to give him a little bit more in the mornings,” Von Hemel explained. “We backed off after the Peter Pan and let him relax for a couple of weeks. We then got back in business and put some in company works and some longer distances just to make sure we had everything ready to go.”
Alternation will not be Von Hemel’s only starter at Saratoga next weekend – the trainer also plans to send out Caleb’s Posse in the Grade 2, $150,000 Amsterdam on Monday, August 1. The Posse colt was most recently fourth in the Grade 3 Iowa Derby following a win in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby and a 12th-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby
“He just got crunched [in the Arkansas Derby],” said Von Hemel. “It wasn’t right at the start, but it was within the first hundred yards and he just got kind of spit out the back. He never put in much of a run that day, so we decided to give him a little breather after that race and went for the Ohio Derby and Iowa Derby, which he ran all right in, but the rest of the year the races are a mile and an eighth, mostly, so we decided to start sprinting him again. We’ll see how we do in the Amsterdam.”
Caleb’s Posse has four wins at distances of a mile or less, including a 5 ½-length score in the seven-furlong Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park in November. That race was named for the last horse to bring Von Hemel to Saratoga, an Oklahoma-bred who finished second in the 1989 Travers behind Easy Goer and came back two years later to run third in the 1991 Forego.
“I haven’t been here in about 20 years,” Von Hemel recalled. “Clever Trevor ran huge in the Travers, but he just wasn’t quite good enough that day. He came back and finished third a couple years later in the Forego and that’s been the extent of my Saratoga.”
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Saturday morning, owner Ronnie Sheffer was at trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn to visit with his Grade 3 Schuylerville winner, Georgie’s Angel, who will now be pointed to the Grade 1 Spinaway on Sunday, September 4.
Sheffer, a Louisville, Ky. attorney, was sporting one of the dozens of Red Sox hats he has in different colors to coordinate with whatever he might be wearing. Saturday’s chapeau was white with a red “B” to go with his red-and-white striped shirt.
“We go up to Fenway every year and try to take in the Yankee series,” said Sheffer, who named the filly in part after George Steinbrenner, and in part after his wife, who was nicknamed “Angel” by her father. The late owner of the Yankees campaigned Georgie’s Angel’s father, Bellamy Road.
Georgie’s Angel is the first horse Sheffer has owned a majority interest in, although he has had small interests in other horses. Last summer, prior to purchasing Georgie’s Angel, Sheffer asked a mutual friend if Pletcher would look at her foal papers, and Pletcher agreed soon afterward to train the filly.
“He’s fortunate that he was able to purchase a really nice filly, and we were lucky he gave her to us to train,” said Pletcher. “She was very professional yesterday and everything worked out like we thought it might.”
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Trainer Al Stall made the most of his 13 starts last year at Saratoga, winning four races, including the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap with Blame and taking a maiden special weight with J. B.’s Thunder, who went on to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
On Friday, Apart, Stall’s 2011 Whitney hopeful, and J. B.’s Thunder earned bullets for their 1:00.20 five-furlong breeze in company.
Adele B. Dilschneider’s Apart, whose career has included triumphs in the 2010 Grade 2 Super Derby and Grade 3 Ack Ack Handicap and the 2011 William Donald Schaefer Memorial, will attempt to give his connections their second straight victory in the Whitney, scheduled for August 6.
“Apart needed a semi-strong work, and we have a bunch of babies here and I wanted a decent older horse with him, and J. B. was the only one who fit,” said Stall. “Apart galloped out real strong after J. B. peeled away from him. We’re on schedule for August 6.”
Stall believes the 4-year-old, second most recently in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill Downs on June 18, could take control of the older male division if he makes a forward progression in the Whitney.
“He needs a couple more lengths, and that can happen with his pedigree and the type of horse he is,” said Stall “We’re looking for the horse to improve as the year goes on, and we think that’s the direction he’s going in.”
A victory by Apart in the Whitney would make Stall the third trainer in the past 57 years to pick up consecutive Whitney scores. The two trainers to hold that distinction are Hall of Famers Shug McGaughey, who won the race in 1988 with Personal Ensign and 1989 with Easy Goer, and Scotty Schulhofer, who captured the race in 1995 with Colonial Affair and 1996 with Unaccounted For.
“If you look at the list, it’s real short,” said Stall.
Stall added that J. B.’s Thunder, unraced since finishing ninth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November, will likely make his return in a turf allowance toward the end of the meet for owner Columbine Stable.
“He’s coming back fine,” said Stall. “We just took our time with him.”