(Jungle Runner preps for Saturday’s G1 Belmont Stakes / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

From the NYRA Media Team:

Calumet Farm’s Jungle Runner posted a half-mile breeze in 50.50 seconds Tuesday morning on the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for Saturday’s 152nd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, this morning’s blowout was the third local breeze for Jungle Runner, who worked five-eighths in 1:01.44 last Tuesday on Big Sandy.

“It was a nice easy half in 50 and change,” said assistant trainer Toby Sheets. “He galloped out in a minute. Not a big gallop out but we’re very happy with it. He’s doing well.”

Jungle Runner will provide 23-year-old Reylu Gutierrez, a native of Rochester, New York, with his first Belmont Stakes mount. A finalist for the Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice in 2018, Gutierrez earned his first graded stakes win in 2019 and has become a regular on the NYRA circuit.

“He’s excited and we’re excited for him,” said Sheets. “He worked our horses here over the winter and he’s a good rider and very enthusiastic. Hopefully, we get a little piece of the action.”

Jungle Runner, a 3-year-old Candy Ride colt, captured the seven-furlong Clever Trevor at Remington Park in November while making his stakes debut. He followed that effort with a distant fourth in the Springboard Mile in December also at Remington Park.

Following a trio of off-the-board efforts in stakes company, including a last-out eighth in the first division of the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in May at Oaklawn Park, Jungle Runner will look to make his New York debut a winning one.

Sheets said Jungle Runner is training well into the Belmont Stakes, which this year will be contested around one turn at 1 1/8-miles as the first leg of the Triple Crown for the first time in history.

“He’s had some decent works on the main track and then just a nice, easy blowout here this morning” said Sheets. “He’s done everything the way we wanted. It’s a big step up, but we’ll give it a try.”

Asmussen, who saddled Creator to a 16-1 upset victory in the 2016 Belmont Stakes, will also be represented in this year’s edition by Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pneumatic.

The dark bay Uncle Mo colt has won two-of-three starts including an April 11 score in an optional-claiming mile at Oaklawn Park when 2 ½-lengths the better of Captain Bombastic, who exited that effort to win Sunday’s Mike Lee at Belmont.

Last out, Pneumatic was a prominent third in the Grade 3 Matt Winn on May 23 at Churchill Downs. Pneumatic is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on Tuesday night and will be piloted on Saturday by Ricardo Santana, Jr.

“He has good form and I think he has a good shot in there,” said Sheets.

The probable field for the Belmont Stakes currently stands at eight horses, including Dr Post (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz, Jr.), Farmington Road (Pletcher, Javier Castellano), Jungle Runner (Steve Asmussen, Reylu Gutierrez), Max Player (Linda Rice, Joel Rosario), Pneumatic (Asmussen, Ricardo Santana, Jr.), Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone, Luca Panici), Tap It to Win (Mark Casse, John Velazquez) and Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg, Manny Franco).

Modernist, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, is also expected to enter with Junior Alvarado to ride.

The post position draw for the Belmont Stakes is slated for Wednesday at 12 p.m. Eastern at Belmont Park and will be streamed live on NYRA’s YouTube channel. Click this link to watch live.

As the exclusive broadcast partner of the Belmont Stakes and the Triple Crown, NBC Sports will present live coverage from Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day beginning at 2:45 p.m. Eastern.

Belmont Stakes Day June 20 will feature six graded races including four Grade 1 events led by the historic Belmont Stakes, which will offer 150-60-30-15 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top-four finishers.

Rounding out the Grade 1 entertainment on Belmont Stakes Day are the $300,000 Longines Acorn for 3-year-old fillies going one mile; the $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm, a seven-furlong sprint over Big Sandy for 3-year-olds; and the $250,000 Jaipur presented by America’s Best Racing, for 3-year-olds and up going six furlongs on turf, which offers a berth in the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

A pair of one-mile turf races for sophomores, previously contested at nine furlongs, completes a stakes-laden card with the Grade 2, $150,000 Pennine Ridge and the Grade 3, $150,000 Wonder Again for fillies.


(Mischevious Alex / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Mischevious Alex breezes in preparation for G1 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm

Cash is King and LC Racing’s Mischevious Alex, who captured the Grade 3 Gotham last out on March 7 at the Big A for trainer John Servis, worked a half-mile in 51.42 Tuesday morning at Parx Racing in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 1, $250,000 Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm.

“He two-minute licked and then we let him pick it up the last half. I wanted to let him stretch his legs a little bit,” said Servis.

Servis said he had considered Saturday’s Belmont Stakes for Mischevious Alex, but wanted to bring the Into Mischief colt back at a shorter distance. Servis said the Woody Stephens, at seven furlongs for sophomores, would set Mischevious Alex up for a two-turn try in the Grade 1 Haskell on July 18 at Monmouth Park.

“I think this race sets him up for the other races,” said Servis. “The Belmont is a one-turn mile and an eighth and the big question for my horse is two turns, so we’ll save that for next time.

“If he runs really good on Saturday, we’ll probably try the Haskell.”

Mischevious Alex is undefeated since the addition of blinkers for a score in the Parx Juvenile in November. He followed that effort with a prominent score in the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park in February ahead of his Grade 3 Gotham coup.

Kendrick Carmouche, aboard for the Gotham win, retains the mount.

The probable field for the Woody Stephens presented by Claiborne Farm includes Echo Town (Steve Asmussen), Fore Left (Doug O’Neill), Meru (Jorge Duarte, Jr.), No Parole (Tom Amoss), and Shoplifted (Asmussen).


Water White training forwardly into Grade 1 Longines Acorn

E.V. Racing Stable’s Water White, last out winner of the Busher Invitational on March 7 at the Big A for trainer Rudy Rodriguez, will look to double up in Saturday’s Grade 1, $300,000 Longines Acorn.

“She’s doing well. Hopefully, she’ll continue to train well over the next couple of days, but so far so good,” said Rodriguez.

Bred in Kentucky by Richard Forbush, the 3-year-old Conveyance gray graduated at third asking in November at Aqueduct ahead of a fifth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle at nine furlongs in December. She followed up with a five-wide second in the 1 1/8-mile Busanda in her seasonal debut in February ahead of her Busher breakthrough.

Water White has breezed six times since April 28 at Belmont Park, including a swift half-mile in 47.89 May 30 which was followed by another good half-mile in 48.66 on June 9, both efforts on the Belmont main track.

“I breezed her an easy half-mile the other day because she went pretty fast the work before,” said Rodriguez. “She’s ready to go. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that we get a good trip.

“She’s been working pretty steady,” added Rodriguez. “But they still need to get over there and compete.”

Rodriguez said he is hoping that Water White will be closer to the pace on Saturday.

“She’s a grinding horse,” said Rodriguez. “She doesn’t have much speed but I’m hoping she can be a little closer. The track has been playing for speed.”

The veteran conditioner has enjoyed a good start to the Belmont Park spring/summer meet where he is currently fifth in the trainer standings with a record of 4-3-4 from 30 starts.

“The horses have been running very well. I have to thank my owners for being patient through the pandemic,” said Rodriguez.

The probable field for the Grade 1 Longines Acorn includes Casual (Steve Asmussen), Gamine (Bob Baffert), Lucrezia (Arnaud Delacour), Perfect Alibi (Mark Casse), and Pleasant Orb (Barclay Tagg).