Belmont Stakes works concluded Tuesday morning when A P Valentine breezed a sharp five furlongs in :59 1/5 with regular work rider Jamie Sanders aboard. The son of A.P. Indy looked like he was ready for some serious action as he jogged past the stands with his neck bowed. Approaching the five-furlong pole, he was already leveled off and in high gear.
After an opening quarter in :23 2/5, A P Valentine kept on motoring, throwing in an eighth in :11 4/5 to reach the quarter pole in :35 1/5. He cut the corner beautifully, and with Sanders virtually motionless down the stretch, he came home his final quarter in :24 flat.
This work was much more professional than his works at Churchill Downs, and even more impressive than his excellent work at Pimlico. This makes five straight works that A P Valentine has gone in :59 and change. He obviously is more at home at Belmont, where he captured the Champagne Stakes last year.
"That was some work, huh?" trainer Nick Zito said as the colt was pulling up. "How do you like the way he did it? Open gallop. No stick, no company, no anything. He has an amazing amount of ability. After his opening quarter he just exploded. Hopefully, we'll get one out of the three. I'll just be glad when Saturday comes. These races take a lot out of you.
"I know it's an old cliché, but you're a product of your environment. This is home for him. He's happy here, he's two for two here, and he trains brilliantly over the track. I just wanted him to do what he did last week, and he did. There was urging or driving."
Later in the morning, Zito watched Albert the Great turn in a sensational five-furlong work in :58 flat. The son of Go for Gin is being pointed for the Brooklyn Handicap June 10.
In other news, Thunder Blitz
turned in another strong gallop, this time over the training track. Trainer Joe Orseno didn't want him galloping faster than a two-minute lick, as he had been doing, and exercise rider Keith Ricks got him to go in 2:07. Thunder Blitz wanted to go faster, and as Ricks grabbed hold of him turning for home, the colt tried to fight him. As a result, his stride was a little sloppy, and he stayed on his left lead. But he still was rolling pretty good down the stretch, with his mouth open. Thunder Blitz is really looking to get it on, and with all these long, powerful gallops, he definitely is one to watch on Saturday. If his sire Holy Bull can get him a mile and a quarter, his female family will get him the rest of the way with no problem.
"He's feeling good and doing good," Orseno said. "He's a May 13 foal, so our hands were tied regarding skipping the Preakness. When he ran in the Derby he still was a 2-year-old, so it was a no-brainer to do the right thing. It would have been too much for him."
Orseno said his dynamic duo, Red Bullet and Macho Uno, are scheduled to arrive at Belmont from the farm on June 21. Farm trainer Danny Vella will get two more works in them before shipping them to Orseno.
Tomorrow's flight from Louisville, with Point Given
, Dollar Bill
, and Buckle Down Ben
aboard, is scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Airport at around 9:45 a.m., with the horses expected to arrive about an hour later, the same time as the post position draw.
Trainer Bob Baffert said Point Given came out of Monday's five-furlong work in :59 3/5 in excellent shape. "He's going to be a handful when he gets there," Baffert said. "Ive never seen a horse carry his weight though the Triple Crown as this horse has."
D. Wayne Lukas will be trying to score his second straight upset victory with Buckle Down Ben, a a gutsy winner of a an allowance race at Churchill Downs in 1:34 4/5 in his last start. "I don't have any grandiose plans of winning this race easily," Lukas said. "I know he's a fresh horse and I think he'll be competitive.Dr Greenfield
is expected to be released from quarantine at Newburgh, N.Y. tomorrow morning, and may ship to Belmont later in the afternoon. The son of Dr Devious arrived in Newburgh late Monday night following an uneventful trip. Team Valor president Barry Irwin said the colt will get a feel of the Belmont surface for the first time on Friday.Monarchos
went out for a light jog this morning, his first day back to the track following Sunday's work. Assistant trainer Yvonne Azeff said the Derby winner has been so aggressive, he may just gallop the wrong way the rest of the week.
The remainder of trainer John Ward's New York string is due to arrive at Belmont this afternoon, headed by champion Beautiful Pleasure and major stakes filly Darling My Darling.