Congrats Looks to Step Up in Brooklyn

Congrats, who is unbeaten in two starts this year, is one of seven entered for Saturday's 1 1/8-mile Brooklyn Handicap (gr. II) at Belmont Park.

Congrats, by A.P. Indy, won the Alysheba April 30 at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) day. He defeated Perfect Drift who will run this weekend in the Stephen Foster (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.

"It's time for him to step up and see how he does on the big stage," Congrats trainer, C.R. "Shug" McGaughey told the Belmont press office. "It took him a while to get it together. He ran good in the Jim Dandy, bled in the Travers came back and ran pretty good when he won an allowance race here in the fall and then he didn't run any good on a muddy track in the Discovery which he didn't like. His next two races this year have been fine.

"He's trained good, looks good and now we've got to see if he can step up to the plate." McGaughey, who said he would scratch Congrats if the track came up wet, said he has been impressed with Congrats' versatility. In his winning 2004 debut, Congrats closed from off the pace after a poor start. He essentially went wire-to-wire in the Alysheba.

His biggest challenge should come from Dynever, who was a high-profile 3-year-old last year but has had mixed results so far in 2004.

Dynever began the year with an impressive win in the San Bernardino (gr. III) Handicap but then beat only one horse as a short-priced favorite in the grade 1 Pimlico Special five weeks ago.

Dynever, 4-3-1 from 11 starts, has breezed three times since the Pimlico Special. Two of those workouts came on the turf, while his final pre-Brooklyn move came last Sunday on the main track when he went a half-mile in :48 2/5. Trainer Christophe Clement said the turf has been a little more forgiving on Dynever's feet, which were agitated in the Pimlico Special.

"He was awfully sore from his feet (exiting the Pimlico Special) and he was just way off his best form in the Pimlico Special," Clement said. "He has trained very well over the last few weeks. He went very well on the dirt the other day. He looks good. Let's go."

Dynever, by Dynaformer, will be ridden by jockey Corey Nakatani as the highweight at 117 pounds.
The field for the Brooklyn, in post order, with jockeys and weights:
Seattle Fitz, Richard Migliore, 116
Newfoundland, John Velazquez, 115
Congrats, Javier Castellano, 115
Dynever, Corey Nakatani, 117
Gander, Aaron Gryder, 114
Country Be Gold, No Rider, 112
Angelic Aura, Shaun Bridgmohan, 110