- It’s really nice to see that Wayne Lukas is finding some softer spots for poor Going Wild. No, he’s not running against Afleet Alex, the best 3yo in training; instead, he has him entered in the G2 Riva Ridge at 7f Saturday against Lost in the Fog, the best 3yo in training. Lost in the Fog is certainly facing the toughest test of his career. Egg Head, whose name I would despise if his sire wasn’t Honor Grades, has actually run faster than LITF, if you believe in his Beyer of 112 in his last race at Delaware. Gotham winner Survivalist is entered; he ran well at 7f at Gulfstream in his first race this year, and Proud Accolade resurfaces looking to rebound from two very disappointing tries.
I’ll have an eye on Allen Jerkins’ War Plan to be the favorite’s main challenger He’s improved drastically since Jerkins took over from Kiaran McLaughlin, and he has a first, second, and a third in the Withers, just 3 1/2 back of Scrappy T with a career high 95 fig. He has steady works, with a spectacular :34 when asked for speed. War Plan is by Fusaichi Pegasus, out of a Known Fact mare, and is in fact related to Belmont entry Indy Storm, who is his second dam’s great-great grandson. Don’t know if he can handle LITF, but he seems like one to watch regardless.
- As for Lukas, he continues to express supreme confidence in A. P. Arrow, comparing his running style to that of two of his four Belmont winners, Thunder Gulch and Editor’s Note. Remember he did run, though rather poorly, in the Santa Anita Derby, finishing a fading 9th, 8 1/2 behind 4th place Giacomo. It seems like a big leap to think that his maiden win, on a sloppy track - he has a 442 Tomlinson mud number - now makes him competitive against these. But Lukas denied he’s there just to collect from youbet.com.
"My deal is straight-up, to do their promotional deals, speaking engagements, advertisements, and whatnot," he said.- I saw Bob Baffert on TVG just before - and he seems to have become rather insignificant lately - and when asked about the Belmont he sounded kind of bitter, don’t you think:
A Youbet spokesman said that a 20 percent bonus on Lukas's roughly $50,000 annual contract would have been paid to Lukas if he earned a Derby victory, and that the contract calls for an additional 40 percent bonus with a Triple Crown sweep. But, Lukas said, "unless I misread my contract, I don't know of any incentives - and I think I'd have known. As far as I know, if I'd won the Triple Crown, I wouldn't have gotten an extra dime." [Daily Racing Form]
“All I know is, if you wanna really piss a horse off, run him in the Belmont.....I have a lot of bad memories from the Belmont, that mile and a half, but it’s still one of the big jewels of racing, it’s still exciting to win it”He seemed to like Giacomo a bit. Mike Smith was on too, and he spoke about the way Giacomo galloped out after the Preakness and said that the horse has maybe gained a little weight if anything. John Shirreffs, and this is probably the first time I’ve spelled his name correctly, said that he wouldn’t have shipped him if he wasn’t fit and ready.
"We wanted to see how he trained. Then to make the decision to get back in the plane, to ship here, he’d really have to be doing well because it’s easier to stay home and wait for races like the Swaps [Stakes (G2)]." [Thoroughbred Times]If you take this trainer for his word, you have to at least assume that the horse is ready to go.
Shirreffs has employed an almost identical work pattern that he used for Giacomo before the Derby for the Belmont, with a seven-furlong breeze in 1:27 on May 30 and 12 days before the race and a six-furlong breeze in 1:14.80 on Sunday and six days before the race. Shirreffs used the same schedule for the Derby [TT]These workouts were very different, however, from the ones before the Derby - then, his 7f work was 1:23.4, and his 6f work was 1:11.4. I just don't like him in this spot regardless of how he's worked, and I'm not going to use anywhere on my tickets.
- Yes, the Form already has the pp's online for the 13 race card Saturday, which includes five graded stakes in addition to the Belmont, featuring the Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap at 10f on the turf. Get to work!