Trainer Brendan Walsh will be racing Plus Que Parfait back on turf in next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, which is the headlining event for the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, July 6.
The 3-year-old chestnut son of Point of Entry made his career debut on grass when third behind multiple graded-stakes placed Henley's Joy over the turf at Ellis Park.
Since then, Plus Que Parfait has been up against some of the best on his division defeating eventual graded stakes winners Harvey Wallbanger and Cutting Humor third time out at Keeneland. A victory in the Group 2 United Arab Emirates Derby gave him a spot in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, where he finished eighth.
Plus Que Parfait worked over the turf at Churchill Downs twice since the Derby, the most recent breeze was a five-furlong effort on June 26 in 1:00.80.
“He trained well, it looked like he had no problem with it at all,” Walsh said. “He's obviously a different horse now. It should suit him and the mile and a quarter should suit him as well. It should fit him but we'll find out for sure next week. It will be interesting to see how he runs.”
Welsh confirmed that Tyler Gaffalione would have the call on Plus Que Parfait, who is scheduled to arrive at Belmont on Tuesday.
French for “more than perfect”, Plus Que Parfait is owned by Imperial Racing and was purchased for $135,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017. He is out of the Awesome Again broodmare Belvedera. A victory in the Belmont Derby would give third-crop sire Point of Entry his first Grade 1 victory as a stallion.
John Oxley's Moon Colony, last out winner of the Grade 2 Penn Mile for Belmont Stakes-winning trainer Mark Casse, breezed four furlongs Friday on the Belmont main in 48.48 seconds with Dylan Davis up.
Julien Leparoux, aboard for the Penn Mile win, will retain the mount on Moon Colony for the Grade 1 Belmont Derby.
“He went a solo half-mile and did it pretty easy,” said Jamie Begg, Casse's New York-based assistant. “He's been doing extremely well. I think he might be doing even better now than he was before the Penn Mile which is encouraging.”
Begg said the Uncle Mo bay, 0-for-2 on the dirt, could earn another shot on the main track down the road.
“Mark and I were talking about him yesterday after the work and he said the horse could probably run on the dirt. I told him that the way this horse was training before the Penn Mile, that if he didn't run well there, I was going to suggest trying him back on dirt,” said Begg. “But, he ran well and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.”
Moon Colony, who will stretch out to 10 furlongs for the first time in the Belmont Derby, posted consecutive bullet breezes ahead of his Penn Mile win. Begg said the added distance is the only question mark for Moon Colony ahead of his first Grade 1 test.
“I think that's the only question Mark and I have with the horse, but he hasn't given us any indication that he wouldn't like it. There's no reason to shy away at this point,” said Begg. “He worked pretty quick going into the Penn Mile, so we've been slowing down his works a bit but he's not one of those horses that trains like he won't get the distance. If you want to slow him down in works, he'll do it. There's only so slow he can go because he gets over the ground so well.”
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