John Phillips and partners' Sir Barton Stakes winner Best Minister zipped a half-mile in a quick :47 at Belmont Park on Monday as the Deputy Minister colt continued to progress toward Saturday's Belmont Stakes.
Trained by Ken McPeek, Best Minister is among about a half-dozen 3-year-olds seeking to derail the Triple Crown bid of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide. Bred in Kentucky by the Phillips Racing Partnership, Best Minister has two wins from six starts and earned $100,050, just a little more than the $100,000 his owners have put up to supplement him into the Belmont field.
Ridden by exercise rider Hanne Jorgensen in Monday's workout, Best Minister began at the 4 1/2-furlong pole and established fractional splits of :22 3/5 and :34 3/5 for the first three-eighths of a mile. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00 3/5.
Although McPeek said he wanted a final time of between 48 seconds and 49 seconds for the breeze, the trainer acknowledged that the work came over a fast track. "The track was fast and the horse did it on his own," McPeek said.
McPeek hopes history repeats itself and he gets his second straight Belmont victory. McPeek-trained Sarava upset War Emblem's Triple Crown sweep in 2002.
Jorgensen said the colt "did it so easy and sort of got bored toward the end of the work as if to say, 'Come on, guys, come and catch me.'"