Leonard C. Green's A Thread of Blue took another step toward a start in the inaugural running of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby on Friday morning with a half-mile breeze over the Saratoga main track in 48.74 seconds, the seventh fastest of 45 recorded works at the distance.
The Jockey Club Derby is the third and final leg of the newly minted “Turf Trinity” which also included the Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational and the Saratoga Derby Invitational, the latter of which was won by A Thread of Blue last out.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, the sophomore son of Hard Spun scored his third stakes victory in the Saratoga Derby, which came after a disappointing fourth in the Grade 3 Penn Mile in June. Earlier in the year, he was a dual stakes winner at Gulfstream Park when taking the Dania Beach and Grade 3 Palm Beach over the South Florida turf.
The Jockey Club Derby, a Breeders' Cup “Win & You're In” event offering a berth in the Breeders' Cup Turf in November at Santa Anita Park, will be a stretch out in distance for A Thread of Blue, who has never gone the 1 1/2-mile distance.
“He worked well,” McLaughlin said. “It's same as usual. He's flying and doing fabulous. We're real excited about him. The mile and a half is a bit of a question mark, but it was a question mark last time and he did it the right way. We hope that all goes well.”
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited, A Thread of Blue is out of the dual grouped stakes winner Enthused. He was purchased for $430,000 from the Ocala Breeders Sales Company's 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last March.
McLaughlin also will send out Romantic Pursuit for her stakes debut in the inaugural $750,000 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational – the female counterpart to the Jockey Club Derby that is run at 1 3/8 miles and is the final leg of the “Turf Tiara”, which also consists of the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks and Saratoga Oaks. The first two were won by Concrete Rose, who has been sidelined the remainder of the year due to a hairline fracture.
Owned by Godolphin, Romantic Pursuit graduated at sixth asking over the inner turf at Belmont Park going a mile-and-a-quarter and went on to defeat elders in her next start at Saratoga going an extra eighth of a mile.
“It's a move up, but we like the distance,” McLaughlin said. “She beat three and up last time and this is straight three-year-old fillies. We're looking forward to her running a big race.”
Romantic Pursuit is a bay daughter of Medaglia d'Oro out of dual Grade 1 winner and 2012 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Questing, who also was owned by Godolphin and trained by McLaughlin.
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