Plus Que Parfait, Tax Under Consideration For Belmont Stakes Starts

by | 05.10.2019 | 2:15pm
Plus Que Parfait breezes through the fog at Churchill Downs

Following an eighth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, trainer Brendan Walsh stated that Plus Que Parfait could race in the Grade 1 $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 8.

The son of Point of Entry, who won the Grade 2 United Arab Emirates Derby at Meydan Racecourse in his start prior to the Run for the Roses, will breeze sometime next weekend and a decision will likely be made from there.

“He's still in the mix,” Walsh said. “We'll see how he does next weekend but we're very much on the fence.”

Owned by Imperial Racing, Plus Que Parfait made amends when shipping to Dubai after two unplaced efforts against stakes company at Fair Grounds over the winter. As a 2-year-old, he broke his maiden at third asking over the main track at Keeneland where he defeated eventual graded stakes winners Harvey Wallbanger and Cutting Humor.

Bred in Kentucky by Calloway Stables, Plus Que Parfait is the second foal out of the Awesome Again broodmare Belvedera. He was purchased for $135,000 at the 2017 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.

Tax came out of the Kentucky Derby in good order and is still awaiting definitive plans for his next stop after placing 14th in the “Run for the Roses,” trainer Danny Gargan said Friday morning.

The Arch gelding will skip the Preakness and could possibly stay on dirt with the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 8, or switch to turf in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational on July 6.

“I don't really know what I'm going to do next, yet,” Gargan said. “I'm definitely not going to the Preakness. It will either be the Belmont, or the Belmont Derby, probably.”

The Belmont Derby, part of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival at Belmont Park, is the first leg of the recently launched Turf Triple Series that offers $5.25 million in purse money, with the Turf Trinity and Turf Tiara, for 3-year-old fillies, seeking to attract the best sophomore turf runners in the country.

The $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, contested at 1 1/4-miles on the Belmont turf to kick off the Turf Trinity, will be broadcast live on NBC. The two additional legs of the Turf Trinity will include the inaugural $1 million Saratoga Derby on August 4 at Saratoga Race Course and concludes at Belmont with the first running of the $1 million Jockey Club Derby on September 7.

Tax is 2-2-1 in six career starts, all on the main track, including a win by a head over Not That Brady in the Grade 3 Withers on February 2 at Aqueduct Racetrack and a runner-up effort by 1 ¼ lengths to Tacitus in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by NYRA Bets on April 6. Owned by R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred, Tax's pedigree makes a switch to grass a possibility, Gargan said.

“When I claimed him, I claimed him to be a grass horse. I'm not guaranteeing I'm doing anything at the moment, but at some stage in the future, he will try the turf,” Gargan said.

Arch, his sire, produced winners on both surfaces, but saw his progeny have great success with turf careers, with Grand Arch winning the 2015 Grade 1 Shadwell Turf Mile and Arravale, the 2006 Sovereign Award-winner as Horse of the Year and Champion Grass Mare.

Divine Miss Grey raced the day before the Derby, finishing eighth in the Grade 1 La Troienne. The 5-year-old Divine Park mare was coming off a three-length win in the slop in the one-mile Heavenly Prize on March 10 at Aqueduct, marking her first start since a runner-up effort in the Grade 2 Fall City Handicap on November 22 at Churchill Downs.

Owned by Corms Racing Stable and R.A. Hill Stable, Divine Miss Grey had a successful 4-year-old campaign, winning five stakes races, including her first career graded stakes when capturing the Grade 2 Chilukki on November 3 at Churchill. She will now get some time off before her connections decide on next steps.

“I don't have an idea of where I'll run her next yet,” Gargan said. “She's doing well. But she's not going to run for six weeks.”

Bailey Morris' Amazing Audrey has finished first or second in her last six races,earning a personal-best 82 Beyer Speed Figure after a three-quarters of a length score against allowance company on May 1 at Churchill.

Gargan said he isn't thinking of moving the 4-year-old Bodemeister filly up to stakes company just yet but left open the possibility she could return to Belmont, where she has a pair of runner-up finishes in three starts, later in the meet.

“She's doing good, but I don't think [moving her up to stakes company] is something we'll do,” Gargan said. “She still has a two-other-than condition. She's staying in Kentucky for now, but she may come to New York depending on the stall situation.”

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