Trappe Shot, Calibrachoa Battle in True North
The six-furlong True North for 3-year-olds and up will be run as the seventh race and is scheduled to go off at 3:15 EDT.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin for owner Mill House, Trappe Shot is 2-for-2 at Belmont Park, remaining perfect with a hard-fought victory over D' Funnybone in the Waldoboro Stakes May 11 in his 4-year-old debut at the True North distance.
His other local win came on last year’s Belmont undercard, beating older horses in a seven-furlong allowance by four lengths.
“He likes the track, and he even likes Belmont Day,” McLaughlin said. “We were pointing for this spot before his last race. We try to look ahead a little bit, and this was perfect timing.”
Trappe Shot’s most recent start was the first for the Tapit colt since finishing ninth of 11 as the favorite in the 1 1/4-mile Travers Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga last August. Prior to that, Trappe Shot had won the Long Branch Stakes and was second in the IZOD Haskell Invitational Stakes (gr. I), both at Monmouth Park.
“We just stopped on him to try to do the right thing by him,” McLaughlin said. “He didn’t have any surgery or anything. We were just trying to give him a chance. He ran plenty of times and ran hard, so we just stopped. It probably took a little bit longer to get him back than we wanted to, but it’s just the way it goes. He’s fine. He just needed some time to freshen up.”
The rest did him good, as Trappe Shot overcame a bobbled start to reel in front-running D’ Funnybone and win by a half-length in the Waldoboro, his first time under jockey John Velazquez.
“We were hoping for a little easier place to get started. It wasn’t that easy a race, but he ran great,” McLaughlin said. “He’s always been kind of unlucky at the gate. He kind of stumbles and doesn't break real clean, so we’re trying to work on that a little bit and hoping we can help that for Saturday. And Johnny knows him now, so hopefully that’ll help, too. He’s doing great. He’s ready to go. We’re looking forward to the race.”
Calibrachoa, owned by Mike Repole and trained by Todd Pletcher, has put together a four-race win streak since last fall, each victory coming at six furlongs. He captured the Tom Fool Handicap (gr. III) by 4 1/2 lengths in a career-best effort over Aqueduct’s inner track March 5 in his most recent race.
Since then, he was entered for the Carter Handicap (gr. I) April 9, but sore feet caused him to miss the race. A 4-year-old son of Southern Image , Calibrachoa also won the Toboggan Stakes (gr. III) in January in his only other start this year.
“We just had some foot issues that took us a little while to get straightened out,” Pletcher said, “Since then, he recovered and recovered well, and we’re pleased with the way he’s training coming up to it. It’s a tough race, but we’re optimistic that he’s going to show up and run well like he always does. He’s been a pretty reliable horse.”
Multiple graded stakes winner D’ Funnybone looks to reverse the Waldoboro result, where he made a bid between horses at the quarter pole to take the lead, but was out finished down the lane and ended up second. He is one of two horses in the True North owned by Paul Pompa, along with This Ones for Phil. Pompa races This Ones for Phil with Jack Mandato and Michael Dubb.
D’ Funnybone, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., started two previous times at Belmont prior to the Waldoboro and won both races. The son of D'wildcat captured the 2009 Futurity Stakes (gr. II) and the 2010 Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II). He also was a two- time grade II sprint winner at Gulfstream Park last year.
This Ones for Phil, by Untuttable, bears the distinction of winning at least one stakes annually from 2008 through 2011, including the 2010 Sunshine Millions Sprint Stakes at Gulfstream. He returned from a 14-month layoff to take the $75,000 Decathlon Stakes at Monmouth Park last month.
Completing the field are Frazil, winner of three straight and four of six this year; Rule by Night, third in the Waldoboro in his 2011 debut; stakes winner Wildcat Brief, second to This Ones for Phil in the Decathlon in his initial start this year; and Khan of Khans, who has won or placed in seven of eight races including a stakes this year.
$250,000 True North (gr. II, Belmont Park, Race 7, 3:15 p.m.) 3YO and up, 6 furlongs, (Dirt)
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