La Providencia's multiple graded stakes winner Hi Happy breezed four furlongs over Belmont's main track Saturday morning in his final major training session ahead of next weekend's Grade 1, $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for trainer Todd Pletcher.
The 6-year-old Argentinian homebred covered the distance in 49.55 seconds, his second work since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Sword Dancer on August 25 at Saratoga.
“He worked well this morning and he looks good. He's a seasoned veteran, he knows what to do,” Pletcher said. “Hopefully, we get some good weather between now and next weekend. I think he appreciates a little firmer ground, but all is well and on schedule for the Turf Classic.”
Prior to the Sword Dancer, Hi Happy faded to a dull sixth in the 1 3/8-mile Grade 2 Bowling Green over soft ground July 28 at Saratoga. It was his first off-the-board finish since joining Pletcher's barn for a 2018 campaign, which has included victories in the Grade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park this winter and Grade 1 Man o' War in May at Belmont. He finished a close third in a blanket finish in the Grade 1 Manhattan on June 9 in his only other start at Belmont.
“He just kind of ran an even race [in the Sword Dancer], but he didn't run horribly. The first time at Saratoga in the Bowling Green, he didn't handle the course at all that day, so I just never got the sense that he handled Saratoga as well as he's handled Belmont or Gulfstream,” said Pletcher. “Hopefully, getting him back here will help get him back into form.”
Grade 3 With Anticipation winner Opry exited his bullet breeze on Friday in good order, said Pletcher, and remains on target for the Grade 3, $200,000 Pilgrim on the September Super Saturday card.
Opry, a 2-year-old colt by Declaration of War, worked four furlongs over the Saratoga turf course in company with maiden runner Social Paranoia, finishing on even terms in 48.83 seconds, the fastest of 31 at the distance. Pletcher said he was particularly impressed with Social Paranoia, a juvenile son of Street Boss, and plans to enter him in the Pilgrim now as well.
“He's been second a few times, both turf and dirt. He's always trained well, and yesterday, he held his own working with Opry. We're going to add some blinkers and see if we can't get him zeroed in a little more, but we feel like he's worth taking a shot with.”
Calumet Farm's Patch, the popular one-eyed 4-year-old colt by Union Rags, also worked Friday at Saratoga, covering four furlongs on the dirt track in 49.46 for the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup. Pletcher added that You're to Blame, winner of the 1 ½-mile Grade 3 Greenwood Cup September 3 at Parx Racing, may be cross-entered in the Gold Cup as well as the $200,000 Temperence Hill Invitational at 1 5/8 miles.
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