Michael and Jeff Fazio's Joevia will make his next start in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, trainer Gregory Sacco confirmed by phone Monday morning.
Joevia rebounded from a Grade 2 Wood Memorial effort in which he was disqualified and placed 11th, with a strong showing in winning the Long Branch at 1 1/16 miles on May 12 at Monmouth Park, earning a personal-best 89 Beyer Speed Figure.
Sacco said jockey Jose Lezcano will pick up the mount in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion,” which will mark Sacco's first-ever trainee in an American Classic.
Sacco added that Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables' Mind Control came out of his Saturday breeze [1:00.61] in good order and remains on target for the, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by Mohegan Sun, one of eight Grade 1 races set for Belmont Stakes Day.
“They both came out of their works great and went back to the track today and both did well. It's been good.” Sacco said.
Joevia's only off-the-board finish in five career starts came in the Wood Memorial, when he caused interference breaking from outermost post 11 on April 6 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Joevia, who won his debut in July at Monmouth before running second in back-to-back stakes in the Jimmy Winkfield in February at Aqueduct and the Private Terms on March 16 at Laurel Park, will be making his first start at Belmont and running at longer than 1 1/8 miles. Joevia breezed Saturday at Monmouth Park, where he is stabled, going five furlongs in a minute flat, handily.
Lezcano will be making his fifth career start in the Belmont and first since 2012, when he finished a career-best fourth with Street Life. His previous runners include Monzon (ninth, 2011), Ice Box (eighth, 2010) and Miners Escape (10th, 2009). Lezcano's best-ever finish in a Classic came with Ice Box, who ran second to Super Saver in the Kentucky Derby.
Mind Control will be running at the Woody Stephens distance of seven furlongs for the second straight race and will look to build on his 1 ¼-length win in the Grade 3 Bay Shore on April 6 at the Big A in which he garnered a personal-best 97 Beyer.
Both horses are expected to arrive at Belmont on Wednesday after traveling from Monmouth at around 8 a.m., Sacco said.
Grade 1 Preakness winner War of Will arrived at trainer Mark Casse's barn on the Belmont Park backstretch early Monday morning by van from his Keeneland base in Lexington, Kentucky.
Joining War of Will on the journey were stablemates Chocolate Kisses and Got Stormy.
Owned by Gary Barber, War of Will walked the shed row and was bathed shortly upon arrival. He will train on the main track at 8:45 a.m. along with Sir Winston who also is pointing to the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
“He got here this morning, he walked, and they bathed him,” said Casse's assistant Jamie Begg. “He was on his toes when he got in this morning, but he settled in now. He's happy. This barn is good because it's kind of secluded, so it's kind of quiet.”
Prior to a 1 ¼-length victory in the second jewel of the Triple Crown, the War Front colt was a troubled seventh in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby following the disqualification of Maximum Security. He kicked off his 3-year-old campaign with wins in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds in the winter.
War of Will began his training under the supervision of Begg last summer at Belmont Park.
Bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings, War of Will is out of the Sadler's Wells broodmare Visions of Clarity, who produced Irish Group 1 winner Pathfork and is a half-sister to 1997 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Spinning World. Casse' brother, bloodstock agent Justin Casse, purchased War of Will overseas last May at the Arqana Breeze Up Sale in France for just under $300,000.
Trainer Danny Gargan confirmed Tax's status for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets. The Arch gelding, owned by R.A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Hugh Lynch and Corms Racing Stable, will pick up a new rider, with former Belmont Stakes-winning jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. taking the call.
Tax, whose status for the “Test of the Champion” was uncertain following Saturday's four-furlong breeze in 49.03 seconds on Belmont's main track, was given new glue-on shoes and showed enough to now be part of an expected 10-horse field for the third leg of the Triple Crown.
“He looked like a million dollars out there this morning,” said Gargan.
The post-position draw for the 151st Belmont Stakes will take place Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Citi Field before the Mets take on the San Francisco Giants.
Ortiz, Jr. will be making his fifth career start in the Belmont. The 26-year-old won the 1 ½-mile challenge in 2016 aboard Creator and last year piloted Hofburg to a third-place finish in a Belmont Stakes that saw Justify post a Triple Crown-clinching victory.
Tax will be Gargan's first Belmont Stakes trainee. The Wood Memorial runner-up will be making his first start since being placed 14th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby last month.
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