Phoenix Thoroughbred III's Gronkowski put in his final work for the Grade 1, $750,000 Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 29, going five furlongs in 1:00.88 on Belmont Park's main track Saturday morning.
“He breezed great and is on target for the Gold Cup,” trainer Chad Brown said. “I think the horse is fit and strong and went perfect for me.”
Gronkowski, the runner-up to Triple Crown-winning Justify in the Belmont Stakes on June 9, has registered three breezes at Belmont since his eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers on August 25 at Saratoga.
Gronkowski worked in company with Wow Cat, putting in a five-furlong breeze for a second consecutive week. After having his first six races in Great Britain, the Lonhro colt will be making his third North American start, all against Grade 1 competition, in the 1 ¼-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup; a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Classic on November 3 at Churchill Downs.
Brown said Belmont's Big Sandy, where Gronkowski rallied from last of 10 to finish 1 ¾ lengths behind Justify in the Belmont Stakes, is more conducive to his style than the main track at the Spa.
“He was doing great heading into the Travers, the only time he didn't do well was in the [race],” Brown said. “The track just got him that day.”
While Gronkowski will run as part of September Super Saturday, which will also feature the Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic and the Grade 1, $350,000 Vosburgh, Wow Cat is slated to run in the Grade 1, $400,000 Beldame on October 6, contested as part of the October Festival of Racing.
Brown also said Convento Viejo's Robert Bruce continues to train up to the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at 1 ½ miles on the Widener course, which is also a “Win and You're In” qualifier for the Breeders' Cup Turf on November 3 at Churchill. The Chilean-bred, who posted a personal-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure for winning the Grade 1 Arlington Million last out on August 11 at Arlington Park, will breeze Sunday morning at Belmont.
“He's doing real well and I'm thrilled with the way that horse is moving,” Brown said. “He's flourishing down here right now at Belmont and he's going to breeze tomorrow.”
Robert Bruce has won two of his three starts since arriving from his native country, including a win in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy on May 5 at Belmont. The 4-year-old Fast Company colt ran sixth in a blanket finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day but was just one-length behind winner Spring Quality, earning a 100 Beyer in the process. In the Arlington Million, Robert Bruce recovered from a bump at the start, surging from eighth to record a half-length win over Almanaar at 1 ¼ miles.
Spirit Animal will arrive at Belmont tomorrow after breezing four furlongs in 53.46 seconds on Saratoga's Oklahoma turf course on Friday, Brown said. The Lemon Drop Kid colt, who broke his maiden at second asking on September 1 at Saratoga, is expected to make his stakes debut in the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim for juveniles at 1 1/16 miles on September Super Saturday.
“His breeze was particularly good,” Brown said.
Newspaperofrecord and Dogtag are both expected to enter the Grade 2, $200,000 Miss Grillo for juvenile fillies on September 30, according to Brown. Dogtag is already a stakes winner after capturing the P.G. Johnson on August 30 at the Spa in a maiden-breaking effort. Newspaperofrecord, an Irish-bred filly, won her debut on August 19 at Saratoga.
“They're both going to run in the Miss Grillo. They'll breeze together [Sunday],” Brown said.
A pair of juvenile colts, Complexity and Aurelius Maximus, will make their respective stakes debuts in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne for 2-year-olds during the October Festival of Racing, Brown said. The Champagne is a Breeders' Cup qualifier for the Juvenile on November 2.
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