Seven colts are entered in the seven-furlong Futurity and all are making their first attempt in stakes company. Six have yet to face winners.
McLaughlin drew the two outside posts for his hopefuls, Girolamo and Charitable Man.
“No doubt, it’s exciting to have a promising two-year-old at this time of year,” said McLaughlin, who won his first training title at Saratoga thanks in part to the performances from his youngsters. “It’s very exhilarating to run back 2-year-olds after breaking their maidens. We all learn a lot whether it’s good or bad, next time out, or next couple of times out.”
Charitable Man, who breaks from the far outside under Alan Garcia, and Girolamo, just to their inside with John Velazquez aboard, won their debuts within a week of each other.
A son of Lemon Drop Kid owned by Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr., Charitable Man kicked things off with a rousing 11 1/2-length victory going 6 1/2 furlongs Aug. 10, going gate to wire in a solid time of 1:17 3/5 and earning a 96 Beyer number.
Girolamo, a Darley Stable-owned son of A.P. Indy, arrived six days later with a 3 1/4-length score from off the pace going wide at seven furlongs. Garcia, who won the riding title at Saratoga for the first time, was aboard for both wins, but elected to stay aboard Charitable Man for the Futurity.
“It was tempting to run Charitable Man back in three weeks for the Hopeful but we thought it better to wait for more time,” McLaughlin said. “In one respect, Girolamo is a little more experienced because he had it all in one race – he broke slow, took the dirt, circled wide and went on to win. Charitable Man won on the lead, but his problem is we haven’t found anyone to put dirt in his face in the morning. He’s very fast.”
Jones will be bringing Russell Welch’s High Mesa, a son of Sky Mesa , and Vinery Stable’s Friesan Fire, another A.P. Indy colt.
High Mesa drew the rail for his first race since tallying by 1 3/4 lengths as the choice in a front-running debut at Delaware Park over five furlongs July 13. He'll race with Lasix for the first time in the Futurity, as will his stablemate Friesan Fire. The latter, a bay colt, started his career with a high-energy three-length triumph going six furlongs at Delaware Aug. 25.
“We got a little later start than we wanted with them, and found ourselves all dressed up with no place to go, so we’re coming to Belmont," Jones said.
Flying Pegasus has won both of his starts for trainer Ralph Nicks, getting up late after checking in the home stretch while facing allowance company at six furlongs as the 3-5 selection at Delaware Aug. 9. The son of Fusaichi Pegasus won his 4 1/2-furlong debut July 2 at Churchill Downs for owner James C. Spence.
Shug McGaughey will send out the Phipps Stable’s Gone Astray, a Dixie Union colt who won at Saratoga at second asking Aug. 23, drawing off after closing five wide to win by 2 1/2 lengths. The Phipps Stable homebred ran third in his debut over a sloppy Saratoga strip.
Steve Asmussen is represented by Stonestreet Stables and Gulf Coast Farms' Kensei, who broke his maiden in his first start by 1 1/2 lengths at Saratoga Aug. 6.
$250,000 Futurity Stakes (gr. II, Race 7, 4:11 p.m.), 2-Year-Olds, 7 Furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey
1. High Mesa (KY), Gabriel Saez
2. Kensei (KY), Shaun Bridgmohan
3. Flying Pegasus (KY), Cornelio H. Velasquez
4. Friesan Fire (KY), Terry J. Thompson
5. Gone Astray (KY), Garrett K. Gomez
6. Girolamo (KY), John R. Velazquez
7. Charitable Man (VA), Alan Garcia
Each assigned 120 pounds.