Robert V. LaPenta’s Brave Victory and Miner's Escape breezed a half-mile in company on the main track at Belmont Park May 21 as they prepped for a start in the $1 million Belmont Stakes (gr. I) on June 6.
With Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito looking on, Brave Victory went four furlongs in :48.55, according to Equibase clockers, while Frederico Tesio winner Miner’s Escape went in :48.56 under jockey Jose Lezcano. Eddie Cruz was up on Brave Victory, third in the Peter Pan (gr. II) to Charitable Man at Belmont on May 9.
The works were the fourth- and fifth-fastest of 23 at the distance.
“Brave Victory is a better work horse than the other horse,” said Zito, who has named Rajiv Maragh to ride in the Belmont. “Brave Victory has always been an exceptional work horse. Miner’s Escape has never been a good work horse, ever, but that’s OK.
“I told Jose that (Miner’s Escape) is kind of quirky, mentally. Most Mineshafts are. They could be tough to train, but we’re willing to take the time with them. And it looks to me like (Brave Victory) will go the distance.”
Zito, who won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont in 2004 with Birdstone and in 2008 with Da' Tara, also owned by LaPenta, has saddled a total of 20 horses in the race. He has finished second six times and third three times, including Anak Nakal’s dead-heat for third last year.
“We’ve done well in the Belmont, been consistent, so why not,” he said. “I don’t have Secretariat with these two, but I don’t have to. You never know. Mine That Bird is definitely the horse to beat, no one can say he’s not.
Miner’s Escape and Brave Victory, a son of Lion Heart, could be joined in the Belmont by another Zito horse, Nowhere to Hide, who was 17th in the Kentucky Derby.