Vineyard Haven is one of the Godolphin horses getting ready for a big second half.<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Vineyard Haven is one of the Godolphin horses getting ready for a big second half.
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Godolphin Gearing Up for Big Second Half

A walk down the Godolphin shedrow at Belmont Park reveals a “Who’s Who” of major stakes horses, many of whom are just coming back off layoffs and getting ready for the Saratoga meet.


Vineyard Haven, winner of the grade I Hopeful and Champagne, who was purchased privately by Godolphin for a reported $12 million, had his first work back, breezing three furlongs in :37. “He went well over the dirt,” said Rick Mettee, assistant to Saeed bin Suroor. “He’s been training well since we got him back. He’ll breeze a half next time, and he’s got a shot at making Saratoga. There was nothing wrong with him; we just backed off him after his poor race (in the Gulf News UAE Two Thousand Guineas).”


Godolphin’s other star 2-year-old from 2008, Midshipman , the Eclipse champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner, is just about ready to breeze after missing the winter and spring with a soft tissue injury. “He’s about a week to 10 days from a breeze and it would be pushing it to make Saratoga,” Mettee said.


Regal Ransom, winner of the grade II UAE Derby, had been entered in the Woody Stephens (gr. II) following an eighth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), but popped a curb and is just now going back going to the track. “We’ve been jogging him,” Mettee said. “As for Saratoga, that’s up in the air right now.”


Mettee said that UAE Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-III) winner Desert Party  had a chip taken out of his ankle after his 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and is back jogging at Keeneland.


On the filly front, and it’s quite a front, Music Note, a disappointing fifth in the Ogden Phipps (gr. I), came out of the race “a little stiff behind.” She recently turned in a sharp three-furlong work in :36 1/5 and should be ready for a race at Saratoga. Although Apple Blossom (gr. I) winner and Ogden Phipps runner-up Seventh Street is pointing for the Go for Wand (gr. I) Aug. 2, Music Note could join her for the 1 1/8-mile race.


Cocoa Beach, winner of the grade I Beldame on dirt and the grade I Matriarch on grass, also was a little stiff behind coming out of her last start, a fourth in the Floral Park Heatherten Stakes at odds of 1-10. The Chilean-bred daughter of Doneraile Court is scheduled to breeze July 11. She, too, will be nominated to the Go for Wand, but no race has been picked out.


A familiar face from last year’s Triple Crown scene is Louisiana Derby (gr. II) winner Pyro, who was purchased by Godolphin, only to undergo knee surgery. He also is scheduled to breeze on July 11.


Here is a trivia question: Who is the last filly to defeat Rachel Alexandra? The answer is Sara Louise, who handed Rachel a 3 3/4-length beating in the Pocahontas Stakes (gr. III) last November. The daughter of Malibu Moon  was purchased by Godolphin over the winter and had her first breeze July 10, going an easy three furlongs in :39 2/5. “We got her real late,” Mettee said. “She had been pointing for the UAE One Thousand Guineas, but lost some weight and conditioning, so we backed off her.”


One of Rachel Alexandra’s recent victims, Flashing, who was a well-beaten third in the Mother Goose (gr. I), came out of the race in good shape and is scheduled to breeze July 11. Mettee said they might give her a shot in the Test Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga.


Last year’s Arkansas Derby (gr. II) winner Gayego, who is coming off a second to stablemate Two Step Salsa in the Godolphin Mile, breezed three furlongs in :37 1/5 July 10. “It was his first work on the dirt in a while and he went very well,” Mettee said. “He had been training on the Tapeta surface in Dubai. We have no specific race for him; he’s a little bit tricky to place, but he might make the end of the Saratoga meet.”


As for Two Step Salsa , they were a disappointed in his fourth-place finish in the Salvator Mile (gr. III) last week, which followed a fourth in the True North Handicap (gr. II), his first start back since winning the Godolphin Mile. “We gave him an excuse in his first race back, and he came back and trained so well,” Mettee said. “We thought Monmouth would be a good track for him and we were surprised he got outrun by Coal Play and then couldn’t hold on for second. Sometimes they fool you. We’ve backed off a little and are just jogging him.”


Girolamo, a promising A.P. Indy 3-year-old, who won his career debut last year for Kiaran McLaughlin, is just coming back now after a fourth in the Futurity Stakes (gr. II) and a sixth in the Champagne. He came out of the Champagne with a hind end problem and wasn’t brought to Dubai. He’s had a couple of breezes and could be ready for Saratoga.


Colony, who won a handicap at Royal Ascot last year, but ran poorly in Dubai this year, was scheduled to run in a listed race at Belmont July 5, but it didn’t go. It was brought back for July 8, but didn’t fill. They are looking to run him in a softer spot before moving up to major stakes.