Belmont Notes: Digger Needs Jockey; Biancone Would Be 'Delighted' if Third

(Edited NYRA report)

While Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Curlin put in his final preparations for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) (view story), Monday was a quiet day for other contenders for the $1-million classic.

Biancone 'Would Be Delighted' if Time Squared Finished Third

Trainer Patrick Biancone threw Time Squared into the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) mix Sunday night. The son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus  has yet to hit the board in a stakes race, but has won two of his last three starts and was only beaten three lengths in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) by Dominican and eventual Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner and Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Street Sense.

“We’ve had this race in the back of our minds,” said Biancone, who trains the colt for Fab Oak Stable, Lewis Lakin, Richard Giacopelli and Martin Schwartz.  “He ran a good race in the Blue Grass and he has been in great form.  I talked with my clients yesterday and they want to run him as long as the horse works well tomorrow.”
Biancone said Time Squared, a New York-bred who brought $1.05 million at auction last year, would probably work five furlongs at Keeneland on Tuesday.  If all goes well, he will ship into Belmont Friday morning.

“With Curlin and Hard Spun in the race, we’d be delighted to finish third,” said Biancone, who will use his regular stable rider, Julien Leparoux, in the Belmont.

Digger Needs a Rider

Improbable Belmont Stakes longshot Digger is still without a rider.  Digger, who is eligible for a second-level allowance, will be making his first start for owner Larry Roman and trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. in the Belmont.  Roman had hoped to secure retired Hall of Fame jockey Angel Cordero Jr. at first, but Cordero graciously turned Roman down.

“Right now, I’m leaving the jockey situation up to my trainer,” said Roman, who has been attending Belmont Park since he was 16.  “I’ve mentioned both Calvin Borel and Mario Pino to Rick, but it’s his call.  I understand both those guys have other things going on that day, so I’m offering $10,000 of my own money if one of them wants to ride.  I know most people are expecting him to finish last, but starting a horse in the Belmont will be the greatest moment of my life.”

Hard Spun Stays Under Shedrow as Rain Drenches Belmont

As rain pounded Belmont Park Monday morning, trainer Larry Jones was all smiles while standing outside Hard Spun’s stall speaking with reporters.  Jones sent the son of Danzig out for a five-furlong work Sunday morning, one day earlier than he originally planned in an effort to sidestep the rainy forecast.
Hard Spun walked the shedrow this morning after Sunday’s 1:03 breeze.
“Depending on what the weather does… I could shedrow him in here tomorrow with me on him,” Jones said.  “It’s really not going to matter how I train him from here.  He’s either ready or he’s not.”
Sunday was Hard Spun’s first full day at Belmont Park and his first time with new jockey Garrett Gomez aboard.  He arrived Saturday afternoon and had yet to get a feel for the surface until his workout.
“I kind of hated it from Garrett’s standpoint with him never having been on the horse and for it to be the horse’s first day out there as well,” said Jones, whose training base is Delaware Park.  “I would have loved to been able to do it differently, but it’s okay.  You try to avoid as many potential disasters as you can, but this horse is very smart.  Garrett said [Hard Spun] kind of acted like he was lost, but I think you could work him at Delaware and he’d work the same way.”
Jones is impressed with how well Hard Spun has held up to the rigors of the Triple Crown.  He nearly stole the Kentucky Derby, but had to settle for second, and ran a solid third in the Preakness.
“Just look at him,” Jones marveled.  “You can barely see any sign of a rib and he’s still got a belly.  It’s unbelievable.  I guarantee you he’s as heavy today as he was going into the Derby.  We’re very fortunate.  It’s something that doesn’t happen.  I run enough of them cheap claimers to know they don’t come out of a race as good as he does and they don’t even try, half of them.  It’s unbelievable to think about what he’s done and the paces he’s been setting in the races and to be as good as he is.”

Slew’s Tizzy Ready to Ship

Joseph LaCombe’s Slew’s Tizzy returned to the track Monday morning for the first time since working a half-mile in :48 1/5 Saturday.  The son of two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Tiznow  galloped and jogged a mile Monday morning at the Thoroughbred Center in Lexington, Ky.
“He came out of his work great,” said trainer Greg Fox.  “When you see him on Tuesday, you’ll know why we’re swinging for the fences with him.”
Slew’s Tizzy is on the same flight from Louisville to New York as Curlin.  Since Slew’s Tizzy is based in Lexington, he will have to van an hour to Louisville before boarding the flight, which will arrive at Farmingdale’s Republic Airport Tuesday afternoon.  The colt will leave Fox’s barn at about 10 a.m.
Fox loves the improvement that Slew’s Tizzy has shown over the last few months, leading to back-to-back graded stakes wins.
“His improvement has been very steady,” Fox said.  “He’s moved forward with every work and every race.  With any athlete, the hardest thing is continuing to progress.”

Fox will be in New York Tuesday morning, prior to Slew’s Tizzy’s arrival at Belmont.

Tiago Quenches His Thirst With Bottled Water
Santa Anita Derby winner Tiago exited Sunday’s six-furlong work of 1:14 4/5 in good order, according to Francisco Lael, an assistant to trainer John Shirreffs.  The half-brother to 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo walked the shedrow of Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey’s barn this morning.

 “Everything looks good,” said Lael.  “It was good timing getting the work in yesterday with all the rain today.”
Unlike most horses, Tiago is given bottled water.  In California, Shirreffs has a water purification system in the barn.
“When our horses ship out of town and the water is different, they can taste it and don’t drink as much as they should,” Lael said.  “The bottled water tastes pretty good to them, though.”
How much bottled water does Tiago consume in one day?  According to Lael, it’s about three cases of 24, 500ml bottles.  Such a thirst costs about $80 per day.

No Decision from Pletcher 

Trainer Todd Pletcher has not made a decision regarding his two potential Belmont starters, Rags to Riches and Circular Quay.  Pletcher said an announcement will be made after he speaks with the horse’s owner, Michael Tabor.
“I’ve got a call into Mr. Tabor,” Pletcher said.  “We’ll sort it out.  We’ll come up with something by tomorrow morning (Tuesday, June 5).”
Rags to Riches, a powerful winner of the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) against 3-year-old fillies last month, breezed five furlongs Sunday in 1:03.88.  Meanwhile, Circular Quay was credited with a half mile breeze of :49 Sunday.
“Both horses came out of their works well,” Pletcher said. 

Imawildandcrazyguy Also Walks Shedrow
Imawildandcrazyguy walked the shedrow in John Hertler’s barn for 45 minutes this morning, according to trainer Bill Kaplan, who flew back to Florida Sunday to check on his horses based at Calder.  Sunday morning, Imawildandcrazyguy breezed three furlongs in :37, his final workout before the Belmont Stakes.
“He came out of the work great,” Kaplan said.  “He’ll walk again tomorrow and go back to the track on Wednesday.”

 Imawildandcrazyguy has been pointed to the Belmont Stakes since January and is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. Kaplan will return to New York Tuesday night.