Mark Hennig was surprised when Eddington worked a blistering half-mile last week, so for his final Belmont Stakes (gr. I) prep, he equipped the colt with blinkers, put Jerry Bailey up, and worked him in company to see how aggressive he'd be off that last work. He found out when Eddington blazed five furlongs in :59 flat.
The work, in company with With Probability, was the second fastest of 67 works at the distance. Hennig was looking for Eddington to run head and head all the way with his workmate and finish in around 1:01. But the son of Unbridled apparently has gotten very aggressive, and despite not changing leads in the stretch, he still drew clear of With Probabilty in the final furlong.
Bailey tried to yank him in a couple of time to get him to change leads, but was unable to. "I needed to move him in a path, but that other horse was there so I couldnt do it," Bailey said.
As for going in company, Bailey said, "It was just to keep him focused. I wanted a target for as long as I could have one, and the other horse did enough too keep him aggressive, but not rank. I was trying to slow him down, but you look at him and you look at me and who's gonna win?"
Hennig added, "With Probability, big, old tough colt. I wanted them to stay head and head all the way around. Jerry said he was really sharp on the turn. They went off easy enough, and I was hoping he'd get aggressive in company. The other horse actually worked pretty good.
"I put blinkers on because he was in company and I wanted to create as much of a real race situation as we could. He's going to have them on in the race, and I wanted to see how aggressive he'd be after that sharpening work last week. I'd love to see him get aggressive and develop the instinct to want to go after somebody and get the job done."
Also at Belmont Sunday, Rock Hard Ten had another good day at the starting gate following Saturday's strong gallop, which trainer Jason Orman said was as good a gallop as he's ever had. The son of Kris S. will have his final Belmont work Monday, and also will go in company. He'll have two more gate schooling sessions, on Thursday and Friday.
Orman said he's looking for Rock Hard Ten to be stalking Smarty Jones this time, especially with the aggressive Pat Valenzuela aboard. Orman is confident Valenzuela will be granted a stay of his suspension, which will be decided on Tuesday.
Smarty Jones was out for a jog Sunday morning with the pony. "He's doing great," trainer John Servis said. "We stayed light today, and probably plan on stretching that to a mile and a half tomorrow. But he's just doing great--back in the barn bucking and playing."
Servis is still unsure about plans on heading to Belmont. Weather continues to be an issue. If temperatures remain comfortable, he'll leave for Belmont Wednesday morning. If things heat up again, he'll head up Tuesday night.