Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo on track for Belmont.

Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo on track for Belmont.

Mike Corrado

Giacomo On Schedule After Hollywood Breeze

(from Belmont Park notes)
Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Giacomo breezed seven furlongs in 1:27 at Hollywood Park Monday morning in preparation for the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).

Across town Monday morning, Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Buzzards Bay, who finished fifth in the Derby, worked six furlongs at Santa Anita handily in 1:12 3/5.

Giacomo, the 50-1 Derby upsetter, worked in company with 5-year-old colt Bullistic, who finished seven furlongs in 1:27 1/5. Giacomo is considered a definite starter for the $1 million Belmont barring any misfortunes over the next two weeks.

"He went nice," trainer John Shirreffs said. "It's always good to work with another horse to get some competition and a target."

Since the flight from California to New York is scheduled to leave June 6, Shirreffs said he had to make an adjustment to Giacomo's schedule.

"Normally, I wouldn't work him this soon after a race, but with the flight schedule, I thought this was the best option," he said.

Shirreffs said that he was not disappointed with Giacomo's third-place Preakness finish, almost 10 lengths behind winner Afleet Alex.

"From what Mike (Smith) said, both him and Afleet Alex were going for the same hole and Afleet Alex beat him to it because he's got a little quicker turn of foot," Shirreffs said. "He's kind of one-paced, so I think the Belmont distance will be a good fit for him."

Trainer Jeff Mullins, also speaking from California, said he had not yet spoken with owners David Shimmon and William Bianco of Fog City Stable regarding Buzzards Bay and the Belmont Stakes.

"The horse worked fine and he's doing fine," Mullins said.

Buzzards Bay won the Santa Anita Derby at odds of 30-1, defeating eventual Kentucky Derby winner Giacomo and 2004 juvenile filly champion Sweet Catomine in the process. He went on to finish fifth, 6 ΒΌ lengths behind Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby.

"I liked his Derby, and I liked that most of the California horses ran well," Mullins said.

Lone Star Derby winner Southern Africa breezed six furlongs at Arlington Park Monday morning in 1:14 beneath former jockey Zoe Cadman-Sterling, the wife of jockey Larry Sterling Jr. The son of Cape Town is a confirmed starter for the Belmont.

"He worked very good," said trainer Mike Puhich from Seattle where he will saddle Pure As Gold in the $50,000 Pepsi-Cola Handicap at Emerald Downs. "We were looking for an easy six furlongs. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27."

Southern Africa will be one of the more lightly raced horses in the Belmont Stakes with just four races under his belt. Puhich considers that an edge.

"We might have a good advantage by not running in any of the Triple Crown races to this point," Puhich said. "He's a pretty fresh horse. Ability wise, I think he's still improving."

Puhich also believes Southern Africa's style is a good match for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes.

"I'd be surprised if he didn't handle the distance," the trainer said. "He's got a steady pace, and he wears horses down. He's got natural speed and keeps going."

Like most other horsemen, the Puhich feels the key to the race is how Afleet Alex reacts from his giant Preakness win.

"If Afleet Alex can repeat that race, he'll be very tough," Puhich said. "I hope that race took something out of him."

Jon Court has ridden Southern Africa in his last two starts and will have the mount for the Belmont Stakes.