3-Year-Old Stars Work for Upcoming Stakes
by Steve Haskin
Date Posted: 7/24/2006 12:29:22 PM
Last Updated: 7/26/2006 5:22:35 PM

Bernardini, Bluegrass Cat, and Strong Contender, three of the main headliners for the July 29 Jim Dandy (gr. II) and Aug. 6 Haskell Invitational (gr. I), turned in sharp breezes at Belmont Park Monday.

Bernardini, runaway winner of the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), breezed an easy five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 for the Jim Dandy. This followed a bullet five-furlong work in :58 4/5 last week.

"He worked super," trainer Tom Albertrani said. "He couldn't look any better, and he's ready for a big race. He was just galloping out there and came back like it was an easy day. He was very impressive."

The son of A.P. Indy hasn't run since his resounding 5 1/4-length score in the Preakness. Prior to that, he won the Withers Stakes (gr. III) by 3 3/4 lengths, despite jockey Javier Castellano losing his whip.

Working for the Haskell was Strong Contender, who is coming off a 7 3/4-length win in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. II). The son of Maria's Mon breezed six furlongs in 1:12 4/5 with jockey Edgar Prado aboard.

"We put him with another horse to keep him from getting bored," trainer John Ward said. "He went off in :13, then picked it up. He stayed outside the other horse and then swooped by him and finished by himself. The clockers got him going his last quarter in :24 and change. Edgar was as happy as can be afterward. He's really matured and is right on track. I'm very pleased with his physical development. He's developed a style where he can use his speed to get the lead whenever he wants it. Once he does, then they have to chase him down with that long stride of his."

Ward said his two Jim Dandy hopefuls – Minister's Bid and Dr. Pleasure -- are doing super and are ready for big efforts Saturday. Prado, as usual, will be aboard Minister's Bid, while Garrett Gomez gets the mount on Dr. Pleasure.

Also prepping for the Haskell on Monday was Bluegrass Cat, who breezed five furlongs in :59 4/5 for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Storm Cat has not run since his second-place finish in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Pletcher will saddle Peter Pan (gr. II) winner Sunriver in the Jim Dandy. The son of Saint Ballado was third in the Belmont in his last start.

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