Five Key Takeaways from Belmont’s Stars & Stripes Festival

Posted 11 months ago by Patrick Munuve | posted in Uncategorized | Post RSS 2.0

IMPRESSIVE RETURN: Code of Honor, competing for the first time since he had been elevated to second behind Country House when stewards disqualified Maximum Security for interference in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, claimed himself at the wide-open 3-year-old branch with an effortless success in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes. “I’m excited for the remainder for the summer,” said Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. “This was our game plan and, up to now, step one functioned ” The next step would be the July 27 Jim Dandy Stakes as a prep for the Aug. 24 Runhappy Travers Stakes. McGaughey is cautiously optimistic his Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes winner can emerge as leader of the course. “I think he is as good as any of them,” he said. “He’s going to need to keep improving as we go along, but I believe he’ll do that.” TIMELY BREAKTHROUGH: Though Henley’s Joy had been not able to break through in his first six graded-stakes begins, such as a remote 13th-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, owner Jeffrey Bloom and coach Mike Maker were convinced he belonged at the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes. Their faith was rewarded when the Kitten’s Joy colt delivered at 20.80-1 in the opening leg of the Turf Trinity with Jose Lezcano aboard. “It is such a big race to acquire and it is so important,” Bloom said. “However, for this particular horse, he has had the worst racing chance and he has been so honest, so many demanding trips. It was just so gratifying to see him be able to show everybody how talented he is.” PERFECT TIMING: Trainers grapple with how long to give a horse between starts. George”Rusty” Arnold was no different when he decided to stage Concrete Rose toward the Grade 1, $750,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes after her strong victory in the Grade 3 Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 3. He opted to forego a training race. “She’s a small filly. There is not a lot to her,” he clarified. “I do not have to train her down to nothing.” His willingness to back off was rewarded with a powerful win in their Turf Tiara’s opening leg. The Twirling Candy filly will not have too long for the next start’s luxury. Arnold is focused on the center leg of their Turf Tiara, the $750,000 Saratoga Oaks on Aug. 2 at 1??3/16 kilometers at Saratoga Race Course. “We’ll run in the next one, if there is not an issue,” he said. “It’s a great series. We wish to support it”

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