Point Given, A P Valentine Turn in Sharp Works

Point Given, A P Valentine Turn in Sharp Works
Photo: Mike Corrado
Preakness Stakes winner Point Given, worked at Churchill Downs on Tuesday.
Point Given and A P Valentine, the first two finishers in the Preakness Stakes, were on the work tab Tuesday morning, at Churchill Downs and Belmont, respectively. Point Given breezed five furlongs in :59 3/5 with regular rider Dana Barnes aboard, while A P Valentine went the same distance in :59 2/5 under Jamie Sanders.

"He did it by himself, and on his own," trainer Bob Baffert said of Point Given. "He finished up pretty well and I was happy with the work. How a horse holds his weight when running three races in five weeks is the most important thing to consider. He's held his weight real well. The Preakness was not a killer; it was a pretty easy race on him. I'm just looking to keep him sharp."

Baffert will be looking to end his run of bad luck in the Belmont Stakes. Cavonnier injured himself in 1996, Silver Charm and Real Quiet both were deprived of a Triple Crown sweep in the final jumps in '97 and '98, and Silverbulletday finished seventh after getting caught up in a demanding pace in '99.

A P Valentine went his opening three eighths in :35 1/5 over a fast-drying out track, then came home his final quarter in :24 1/5 to complete his bullet work in :59 2/5. The time caught trainer Nick Zito by surprise, as he was looking for something around 1:02.

"You certainly don't want to see that, but if he does it on his own, you'll take it," Zito said. "I was very impressed with his work. I never expected it. This horse has got so much desire. Anyone who saw this horse work today knows what we've been talking about for the last year. This horse has a lot of talent. Good horses train themselves. Jamie has been with me for 13 years, she knows what I want and knows the horses. That's the beautiful part of it; AP Valentine and 'Albert' (Albert the Great) train themselves."

Zito also will be attempting to end a hard-luck streak in the Belmont, having finished second in the race four times and third once.

"Both A P Valentine and Albert the Great have had good experiences at Belmont Park," Zito said. "These two horses do a lot of traveling, but this is home. They train better here than anywhere else. These horses are no slouches. They will represent New York pretty good."

To complete the big three, D. Wayne Lukas finally will get his chance to nail down a Triple Crown race this year following Buckle Down Ben's gutsy victory in a mile allowance race at Churchill Downs Sunday. Buckle Down Ben, making his first start since the Spiral Stakes, came again after being passed to win by a neck in a sharp 1:34 3/5.

"Pat (Day) never hit him and we still got a solid race," Lukas said. "This should set us up good for the Belmont. I won't do a lot with him. That was a mile in 1:34. I'm pretty well set. He's fresh and he's doing good right now. I think he'll be able to get the mile and a half. I don't believe that's too far a stretch."

Buckle Down Ben likely will not be taken too lightly after Lukas' surprising score in last year's Belmont with Commendable.

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