His connections may be different, but Bribon will attempt the same goal as he did at this time last year: win the $100,000 Westchester (gr. III) on opening day at Belmont Park April 30.
In 2009, the French-bred gelding made three winter starts at Gulfstream Park, and then used a victory in the one-mile Westchester as a stepping stone to the first grade I triumph of his career in Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap last May.
In December, Bribon was sold privately to Derrick Smith and transferred to the barn of Todd Pletcher. Though he again wintered in Florida in 2010, the 7-year-old gelding did not race, instead training at Palm Meadows up to a start in the $100,000 Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup, a 1 1/8-mile turf race at the Garrison Savannah in Barbados on March 6. A one-mile specialist, he finished second by a neck to Sterwins.
“Other than the extra eighth of a mile, I believe he fit nicely into the Barbados Gold Cup and just got nipped at the wire,” said Jonathan Thomas, assistant to Pletcher. “He’s a very nice, very talented animal. He seems to do his work rather easily. The guys in Florida sent him up in excellent shape and we’re just trying to keep him as good as they sent him. He won this race last year and obviously loves Belmont.”
Jockey Javier Castellano will ride 9-5 morning-line favorite Bribon for the first time, breaking from post 7.
An able field of eight has assembled to face Bribon, including Barry Schwartz’s unbeaten 4-year-old Ironman Jon, who emerged as a standout over Aqueduct’s inner track this winter, winning both a maiden race and a first level allowance by a combined margin of 18 1/4 lengths.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has entered two Darley Stable trainees in Elusive Warning and Past the Point. Elusive Warning and Past the Point are entered as an entry with jockey Eibar Coa named to ride both horses, one of which is likely to scratch, according to McLaughlin.
Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens and son Jimmy Jerkens will each send a starter postward, Le Grand Cru and Convocation, respectively.