Eclipse Has Possible New Belmont Shooter
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, whose Danza was third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), has purchased Coolmore and partner's Peter Pan (gr. II) fourth-place finisher Matterhorn and the son of Tapit is now under consideration for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Materhorn was bought from the Coolmore partnership of Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor. The price was not disclosed.
Winner of the Arkansas Derby (gr. I) before finishing third in the Kentucky Derby, Danza skipped the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in order to point for the Belmont, but Pletcher was dissatisfied how the colt came out of a May 18 workout at Belmont. The trainer said the son of Street Boss was to be sent to Payton Training Center in Ocala, Fla., for some diagnostics and time off, thus missing the Belmont.
Matterhorn finished 6 1/4 lengths behind Tonalist in the Peter Pan.
"I spoke to (Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners president) Aron Wellman yesterday after the breeze, and we're keeping an eye on how he trains this week," said Pletcher. "A lot will depend on how he breezes on Sunday, but he's under consideration (for the Belmont Stakes)."
A $625,000 purchase by Coolmore bloodstock adviser Demi O'Byrne at the 2013 Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-olds in training sale, Matterhorn has a 1-0-1 record from four career starts for Pletcher. He won his debut last November at Aqueduct Racetrack in his only start as a 2-year-old, then kicked off 2014 with an unplaced finish behind eventual Besilu Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Constitution and Tonalist in an allowance/optional claiming race Feb. 22 at Gulfstream Park. He was subsequently third in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race March 28 at Aqueduct in his start prior to the Peter Pan.
Pletcher said his other Belmont hopeful, Commissioner, came out well from his five-furlong breeze the previous day.
"A quiet morning," he said. "We'll watch the forecast, but he's scheduled to breeze again on Sunday."
Matuszak, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott for George Prussin, hit the track early Sunday morning in preparation of the June 7 Belmont. The 3-year-old son of Bernardini has only one win to his credit, but is coming off a second-place finish in the Federico Tesio despite a troubled trip.
The Mott trainee breezed five furlongs in 1:01.36 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.47 in company with Abraham.
"Matuszak was good," said Mott. "He went with (Abraham) and finished on even terms with him. It wasn't quite as fast as last week but they went off a little slow."
Centennial Farm's Wicked Strong came out of his one-mile breeze on Sunday in fine fettle, Jimmy Jerkens said Monday morning.
"He's in good shape," said Jerkens. "Nothing really to say."
The move was Wicked Strong's second at one mile in his career and sixth at seven furlongs or longer. His previous one-mile breeze came in January at Palm Meadows, and he breezed seven furlongs before both his victory in the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial (gr. I) in April at Aqueduct and his fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
"He's done it before, he's used to it," said Jerkens of Wicked Strong's longer workouts. "It's nothing new to him. It's not like we surprised him with it. It's pretty routine for him. He's done it a lot, even as a 2-year-old. Not that fast, obviously."
Belmont Stakes hopeful Tonalist emerged from his May 25 breeze in good order, according to trainer Christophe Clement. The son of Tapit went five furlongs in 1:01.63 in preparation of the June 7 "Test of the Champion".
"He came out of the work in excellent shape and looks very well to me," said Clement. "He jogged around the main track once (Sunday morning) and we took him into the starting gate to go in and back out."
The 3-year-old colt will have his final work before the Belmont Stakes on either the Saturday or Sunday before the race, depending on the weather, according to Clement.
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