By Karen Johnson
Lawyer Ron, winner of the Whitney (gr. I) and Woodward (gr. I) in his last two starts at Saratoga, worked a half-mile in 48.40 seconds over Belmont Park’s main track Sept. 17.
Lawyer Ron’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, is pointing the 4-year-old to the $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) at Belmont Sept. 30. The Gold Cup will be his final prep before the $5-million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I) at Monmouth Park Oct. 27.
“He worked excellent,” Pletcher said. “He’s doing very well. The Jockey Club is most likely.”
When asked if Pletcher had given thought to skipping the Gold Cup and training up to the Classic, he said, “It’s a close call. I’m concerned it would be too much for him going into the Breeders’ Cup -- a mile-and-a-quarter race [with eight weeks between races]. He is a horse who tends to be on the fresh side and does well with activity. So four weeks between the Breeders’ Cup would be better, opposed to eight.”
On Sept. 17, the Pletcher-trained Rags to Riches was scheduled to leave Belmont for Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky. Rags to Riches, second in the Sept. 15 Gazelle (gr. I), came out of the race with a hairline fracture of her right front pastern bone. Rags to Riches, this year’s Belmont Stakes (gr. I) winner, is anticipated to make a full recovery and return to the races next year.
Understandably, Pletcher and his staff were disappointed, but he said, “Most importantly, she is fine. And we can look forward to her racing next year, which is exciting.”
Pletcher said The Green Monkey came out of his third-place finish in a six-furlong maiden race at Belmont Sept. 15 in good order. The Green Monkey’s debut was regarded as a highlight of the racing card because of the $16 million he brought at auction last year as a 2-year-old.
“You would think a horse that worked as fast as he did at the 2-year-old sale would be a little quicker,” Pletcher said. “But I liked the way he finished the last sixteenth and the way he galloped out. I look forward to running him [at longer distances].”
Also on the Belmont work tab Sept. 17 was King’s Bishop (gr. I) runner-up First Defence. With jockey Javier Castellano in the irons, First Defence worked five furlongs from the starting gate in 59.77, the fastest of 16 works at the distance on the main track.
After the work, First Defence’s trainer, Bobby Frankel, said the colt was on schedule to run in the Grade 1 Vosburgh at Belmont Sept. 30. Frankel asked Castellano, “Ready for the Vosburgh?”
“Oh yeah,” Castellano replied.
“The Vosburgh will be good for him,” Frankel said. “I would like to win that.”