Irish War Cry in Herringswell Stables’ barn at Fair Hill Training Center

Irish War Cry in Herringswell Stables’ barn at Fair Hill Training Center

Anne M. Eberhardt

Irish War Cry Continues Progress Toward Haskell

Worked six furlongs in company with grade 1 winner Ascend July 16.

Isabelle de Tomaso's multiple grade 2-winning homebred Irish War Cry continued preparations for his next start with a six-furlong breeze at the Fair Hill Training Center near Elkton, Md. the morning of July 16.

Both Irish War Cry and his workmate, 5-year-old grade 1 turf winner Ascend, went the distance in 1:14 over Fair Hill's dirt track.

"I was very pleased with them. They went a nice three-quarters on the dirt and did it how I wanted them to do it," trainer Graham Motion said. "When you've got horses like that, it's always a little bit hard to match them up especially with a 3-year-old, I think. He had breezed with Painter's Rags the last two weeks but I felt, for a more serious work, it was a little unfair on Painter's Rags to keep breezing them together.

"I had breezed Ascend and him together before, and Ascend breezes very well on the dirt so it just seemed like a logical combination," he added. "I don't always breeze 3-year-olds with older horses but he's a bit of an exception, you know?"

Irish War Cry opened his career with three straight wins including his only two starts at 2, a mid-November maiden victory and the seven-furlong Marylander Stakes on New Year's Eve at Laurel Park. This year he won the Lambholm South Holy Bull Stakes (G2) and Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRABets (G2), finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1), and bounced back with a strong second in the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRABets (G1) June 10, his most recent effort.

Scheduled to make his next start in the $1 million betfair.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) July 30 at Monmouth Park, Irish War Cry has now breezed three times at Fair Hill since the Belmont.

"I've been very happy with him. He really hasn't missed a beat," Motion said. "He had an easy half-mile three weeks after the Belmont and then we stepped it up the last couple of weekends. I'm pretty happy with how he's done, really."

Stone Farm and Madaket Stables' Ascend has also worked three times at Fair Hill following his 27-1 upset victory in the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1), one race prior to the Belmont. His previous two breezes had come over Fair Hill's all-weather surface.

Ascend has won three straight races, taking a Keeneland allowance in his 2016 finale and opening 2017 with a half-length victory in the Henry S. Clark Stakes April 22 at Laurel in his stakes debut.

Motion could bring Ascend back in the Bowling Green Stakes (G2T) July 29 at Saratoga Racecourse or the Arlington Million XXXIV Stakes (G1T) Aug. 12.

"The nice thing about the Bowling Green is that if he ran well he could come back and run in the Sword Dancer (Stakes, G1T, Aug. 26). I'm kind of weighing the options there," Motion said. "Ascend has done well. He's just a very easy horse to be around. Both horses are, really. They're both very straightforward."

Motion said Painter's Rags, unraced since Feb. 3, had a knee chip removed and could make his return in the $75,000 Concern Stakes for 3-year-olds going seven furlongs July 22 at Laurel.