Zito Says Pinpoint to Start in Belmont Stakes

(from Belmont Park notes)
Nick Zito, soon to become racing's newest Hall of Fame trainer, committed Sir Barton winner Pinpoint to the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 11 after the son of Peaks and Valleys worked Thursday at Saratoga's Oklahoma training track.

With exercise rider Maxine Correa up, the Arthur Hancock-owned colt worked six furlongs in 1:15 and galloped out seven furlongs in about 1:28, according to Zito, whose election to the Hall of Fame was announced earlier this week.

"We did the same kind of thing we did with Birdstone, working him around the turns," Zito said. "Maxine said she was very happy with the work, and I really liked the way he did it, too."

Zito previously had not completely committed to running Pinpoint in the $1 million Belmont, where he will face the likes of Preakness (gr. I) hero Afleet Alex and Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo.

"It looks like we're going to run," Nick Zito. "And we got Johnny Velazquez to ride him."

Zito said that Robert LaPenta's Andromeda's Hero is also doing well at Saratoga prepping for the Belmont. Rafael Bejarano has the mount on the son of 2000 Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus . Andromeda's Hero won the listed Sam Davis over the winter at Tampa Bay Downs.

Marshall Dowell's Withers (gr. III) winner and Preakness runner-up Scrappy T worked five furlongs handily in :58 2/5 at Bowie Thursday. The Fit to Fight gelding is still not considered a definite starter for the Belmont Stakes despite the strong work this morning.

"He worked real well," trainer Robert Bailes said. "He went a little quicker than I wanted, but the track was fast and he did it well within himself. We'll give it a day or two to see how he comes out of the work. He finished up his lunch already, and he looks good."

Bailes said a decision on the Belmont would likely be made Saturday or Sunday. Scrappy T veeered out in the Preakness under jockey Ramon Dominguez' heavy left-hand, nearly dropping eventual winner Afleet Alex at the head of the lane.

"It didn't seem like the Preakness had any ill effects on him," Bailes said. "The main thing I'm concerned about is that he's at the top of his game, and we're running him at a distance and in a race he could win. We have a couple questions we still haven't answered yet. We just want to make sure we do the right thing for the horse."

Undaunted by Chekhov's fourth-place finish as the favorite in last Saturday's Peter Pan (gr. II), trainer Patrick Biancone has decided to run the son of Pulpit in the Belmont Stakes.

Biancone says that Chekhov, who was purchased for $3.3 million at auction in April of 2004, would work early next week over the Saratoga training track.

Chekhov will team up with Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens in the Belmont. Stevens has won the Belmont Stakes three times, most recently aboard Point Given in 2001. Point Given was later crowned the 2001 Horse of the Year.