Trainer Todd Pletcher returned to Belmont Park early Saturday morning from Saratoga to oversee turf works for next Saturday's Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, the first leg of the newly created Turf Trinity, headlining the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival that will be broadcast live on NBC.
Posting his third breeze on the inner turf since finishing third in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge on June 1, Social Paranoia, for owners The Elkstone Group, worked in company with Wertheimer and Frere's Spinoff as the pair completed four furlongs in 48.80 seconds.
Social Paranoia broke his maiden in his sixth career start in March to kick off his 2019 campaign after finishing third in the Grade 3 Pilgrim in September. Following his maiden score, he finished third in the Grade 2 American Turf on May 4 at Churchill Downs.
“I thought it was a good work for him,” said Pletcher. “He's run well all three times this year. I'm hoping a mile and quarter will give him a little bit of a better chance. I think it's a very competitive race, but at his best he's very good. I don't think he has an electrifying turn-of-foot, so I think the mile and a quarter distance should help him.”
Spinoff, a son of Hard Spun, who had his second breeze on the turf Saturday, is preparing to make his first career start on the grass after starting his Triple Crown campaign with an 18th-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby. Last out, Spinoff finished sixth, defeated less than three lengths, in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
“I thought both of his turf works were good,” said Pletcher. “Trying him on the turf was something that was always in the back of our minds. Assuming everything is good coming out of this work, we'll point for the Belmont Derby.
“I'm not committing to a turf campaign yet,” continued Pletcher. “Even if he runs well, that doesn't mean he's going to stay on the turf. I was looking at options following the Belmont as I'm not sure he gave me everything he had in that race. By the time I walked back to the barn, he wasn't blowing hard or drinking any of his water. He was only beaten a couple of lengths but watching him comeback and cool out and bounce out the race I'm not sure he gave me everything, so we'll see how he performs in here.”
Currently first on the reserve list for the Belmont Derby Invitational, St. Elias Stable's Clint Maroon breezed four furlongs in 48.70 seconds on the inner turf in company with Starlight Racing's 3-year-old graded stakes winner Sombeyay.
Also entered for the $100,000 Manilla on July 4th, Pletcher said he would enter Clint Maroon in the Belmont Derby if he gets into the field when entries are taken on Wednesday, July 3rd.
“We're going to keep an eye on the [Belmont] Derby and would consider entering him back in there as well,” said Pletcher. “I think a mile and quarter could work. He's run well at a mile and a sixteenth and a mile and an eighth.”
Pletcher breezed Grade 2 Woodford Reserve Brooklyn Invitational winner Marconi in company with Grade 1 Santa Anita Gold Cup winner Vino Rosso as the pair went four furlongs in 48.70 on the Belmont training track.
Marconi, on a three-race win streak with victories in the Skip Away at Gulfstream and Flat Out at Belmont, is pointed at the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban on July 6, as part of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival, while Vino Rosso is training towards the Grade 1, $1 million Whitney on August 3 at Saratoga.
“I thought both horses worked very well,” said Pletcher. “They make good workmates. Marconi seems to be in a good rhythm at the moment, his confidence is at an all-time high and he just seems to be improving. I don't think six months ago he would have been capable of breezing with a horse as good as Vino Rosso and staying with him the whole way. He's shown us hints at times that there was something there, but he wouldn't always deliver. Since winning the Skip Away and coming back and winning his next two, he just seems to be in a really good groove at the moment.
“Being a half-brother to Mucho Macho Man, who got better as he got older and a son of Tapit, sometimes they take a little while to mentally get it all together,” added Pletcher. “We know he likes Belmont after his last two wins here and the Suburban is a prestigious race with a good purse for a horse with a stallion's pedigree. Vino Rosso will ship to Saratoga tomorrow to begin preparations for the Whitney.”
Robert and Lawana Low's graded-stakes placed 3-year-old Intrepid Heart posted his first workout since finishing eighth in the Belmont, covering four furlongs in 50.75 seconds on the Belmont training track on Saturday.
Pletcher said Intrepid Heart is targeting a start in the either $100,000 Curlin on Friday, July 26 or the Grade 2, $600,000 Jim Dandy on Saturday, July 27.
“He had his first work back today,” said Pletcher. “Purposely, we went a little bit on the easy side. We'll play it by ear. He's eligible for the Curlin and Jim Dandy so we'll see how he trains.”
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