Steppenwolfer Sizzles in Six-Furlong Breeze

(from Belmont Park notes)
With heavy rain and a wet track expected over the next couple of days, trainer Danny Peitz sent Robert and Lawana Low's Steppenwolfer to the training track for a quick six-furlong breeze Friday morning in preparation for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 10.

The Aptitude colt finished in a hot 1:10 1/5 with Heberto Castillo Jr. up, after going an opening half-mile in :47. Steppenwolfer's gallop-out times for seven furlongs and one mile were 1:23 3/5 and 1:37 3/5. The training track was labeled "good" after overnight rain.

"If we get a lot of rain tonight and tomorrow, the track won't be any good tomorrow or Sunday," Peitz said. "I took my chances. I figured the track was going to be better today than it will be over the next couple of days."

Peitz was extremely concerned the move was too fast. But after a short time, his concern diminished somewhat.

"The track was obviously fast and hard with some moisture in it," Peitz said. "If you saw him work, he did it pretty easily."

Peitz was glad to see Steppenwolfer still finish up strong after running quick early.

"His works were basically the same all spring," Peitz said. "He always finishes the last quarter in :23 and change and that's what he did today."

The fast work would be less eye-catching if Steppenwolfer showed more speed in the afternoons. He has never been closer to the lead than four lengths in any of his nine races.

"I think he has more natural speed than what he shows in the afternoon," Peitz said.

Robby Albarado rides Steppenwolfer in the Belmont.

After arriving from California Tuesday, Amerman Racing Stables' Sacred Light has been busy at Belmont Park. The Holy Bull colt jogged once around the main track with exercise rider Martin De Rubin up Friday morning.

"He's handled everything well," De Rubin said. "We've stood him in the gate and schooled him in the paddock."

David Hofmans, the trainer of Sacred Light and winner of the 1997 Belmont with Touch Gold, will arrive Sunday morning to supervise the colt's work on Sunday or Monday.

De Rubin said it always takes some getting used to the size of Belmont's main track, even though he has been here before with Northern Afleet and Touch Gold.

"Getting accustomed to the climate is the biggest thing for the horse," De Rubin said. "It's been hot and humid the last few days. He got a little tired after galloping this morning in the humidity."

Tampa Bay Derby (gr. III) winner Deputy Glitters galloped a mile at Belmont Friday and is likely to work Sunday morning, weather permitting, according to Andy Rehm, assistant to trainer Tom Albertrani.

Team Valor Stables Oh So Awesome came out of Thursday's work of seven furlongs in 1:27 4/5 in good order and is on target for the Belmont Stakes, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

"He's not a big work horse," Jerkens said. "We found that out when he first got over here."

Oh So Awesome was purchased by Team Valor and sent to Jerkens earlier this spring. Team Valor and Jerkens teamed up to finish third in the 1998 Belmont with Thomas Jo.

Jerkens said he was pleased with Oh So Awesome's stateside debut in the Match the Hatch, an overnight stakes that came off the turf in which he finished third.

"The races he ran in Europe really didn't mean anything," Jerkens said. "I didn't know what to expect in his first race here. He didn't have any experience on the dirt and he looks like a turf horse. He was running at the end."