Katsumi Yoshizawa's homebred Master Fencer, trained by Koichi Tsunoda, was in good order on Friday morning at Belmont, where he continues to prepare for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
Master Fencer paddock schooled at 6:30 a.m. before heading out to the Belmont main track with the accompaniment of a pony, en route to a subsequent visit to the dirt training track where the Japanese-bred chestnut jogged once around.
“On the training track, I confirmed that he was changing leads well and just had a light training session. He was so energized today,” said training assistant Yosuke Kono via translator Mitsuoki Numamoto.
Owned and bred by Yoshizawa and trained by 48-year-old former jockey Tsunoda, Master Fencer finished a rail-rallying seventh in the Derby and was elevated to sixth with the disqualification of Maximum Security.
He earned his spot in the starting gate for the first Saturday in May by accumulating 19 points on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby. Master Fencer's 2019 campaign in Japan includes a fast-closing second in the $310,830 Fukuryu at Nakayama Racecourse on March 31 and a fourth-place effort in the $330,506 Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse on Feb. 17.
Master Fencer will continue to train on the dirt training track over the weekend with his final timed workout slated for Wednesday morning on the Belmont main track under Julien Leparoux.
Tracy Farmer's homebred Sir Winston, a chestnut son of Awesome Again, worked four furlongs in 50.16 seconds on Friday morning on the Belmont main track. Joel Rosario, who will pilot the Mark Casse trainee in the Belmont, was in the irons for the breeze.
“He worked an easy half-mile with a good gallop out,” said Jamie Begg, assistant to Casse. “He did it the way he likes to do it and he did it the right way. Joel was very happy with the breeze.”
The Kentucky-bred chestnut graduated in September on the Tapeta surface at Woodbine, before completing the trifecta in the Grade 3 Grey in October. Sir Winston completed a solid juvenile campaign with a victory in the 1 1/16-mile Display at the Jewel of the North.
Sir Winston tried his luck on the Kentucky Derby trail over the winter, finishing fourth in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct and a rallying fifth in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. With the Derby out of consideration, Sir Winston was pointed to the Belmont and earned a career-best 100 Beyer Speed Figure last out when rallying for second behind Global Campaign in the Grade 3 Peter Pan, the local prep for the 'Test of the Champion.'
The Casse-trained War of Will, who captured the Grade 1 Preakness last out, is slated to arrive at Belmont on Monday to continue his preparations for the Belmont Stakes.
Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets winner Tacitus continues to train forwardly into the final leg of the Triple Crown, the G1 Belmont Stakes, set for Saturday, June 8 at Belmont Park.
The regally-bred son of 2004 Wood Memorial winner Tapit and multiple Grade 1 winner Close Hatches has won three of five starts including victories in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby and the Wood Memorial en route to a rallying third in the Kentucky Derby.
“He's doing very well. He galloped on the training track the past couple mornings,” said Leana Willaford, who was a sporting a Close Hatches Breeder's Cup hat.
Tacitus is expected to post his final breeze for the Belmont Stakes on Sunday morning on the Belmont main track.
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