(Belmont Stakes winner Arcangelo preps for G1 Travers at Saratoga / Susie Rashier Photo & Courtesy of NYRA)
From the NYRA Media Team:
Blue Rose Farm’s Arcangelo worked five-eighths in 1:01.23 Wednesday over the Saratoga Race Course main track in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.25 million Travers slated for August 26.
Trained by Jena Antonucci and piloted through the work by Hall of Famer Javier Castellano, the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets-winner was caught by NYRA Clockers through splits of 24 1/5 and 36 2/5 before galloping out in 1:14 2/5 and 1:27 flat.
“He was great. It was a beautiful work. Javier was very pleased,” Antonucci said.
It was the third breeze over the main track here for the Arrogate grey.
“He loves it. We’re so blessed with him, he doesn’t seem to care what’s underneath him,” Antonucci said of the Saratoga surface. “He handles it beautifully. Facilities has done a great job of keeping it very consistent and he’s thriving off of that.”
Antonucci said Arcangelo has enjoyed breezing on a 10-day schedule as opposed to the more common every seven days routine.
“You have to pay attention to your horse and understand who they are,” Antonucci said. “This horse just needs that space because with his cruising speed and how he trains, he’s thrived on more of a 10-day schedule. My job is to listen and stay out of his way.”
Antonucci, who became the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race, said Arcangelo maintained his weight coming out of the grueling 12-furlong “Test of the Champion” and has thrived at Saratoga.
“He held really good. He’s a good doer. He definitely hasn’t regressed at all. He’s definitely come forward,” Antonucci said. “Everything else is there – my job is to make sure that the happy and full-of-himself horse stays there.”
The $35,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase graduated at third asking in March traveling a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park with Castellano aboard for the first time.
The talented colt stalked a sharp pace of 23.17 seconds and 45.55 set by Jonas’ Dream before making a seven-wide bid in the stretch run en route to a 3 1/2-length score in a final time of 1:34.82. The winning effort garnered a then career-best 84 Beyer Speed Figure.
He has improved his Beyer in each start since, taking the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan  by a head over Bishops Bay ahead of his memorable run in the 12-furlong Belmont Stakes , overtaking the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes-winner National Treasure at the stretch call and holding off the reigning
Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte to secure a 1 1/2-length score.
Antonucci said Arcangelo, who will breeze twice more before the Travers, should have no trouble with the turnback in distance.
“We were one of the fastest miles at Gulfstream breaking his maiden, so cruising speed is definitely not an issue with him,” Antonucci said.
Out of the Tapit mare Modeling, Arcangelo’s third dam is Better Than Honour, who produced two Belmont Stakes winners in Jazil  and Rags to Riches .
G1 Jockey Club Gold Cup is now the ‘main focus’ for Proxy
After a triumphant gate-to-wire score in Saturday’s Grade 3 Monmouth Cup, Godolphin’s Proxy will shift his focus to the Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 2 going 1 1/4 miles at Saratoga Race Course. The JCGC is a “Win and You’re In” qualifier for the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Santa Anita Park.
The 5-year-old Tapit bay emerged from only three week’s rest to capture the nine-furlong Monmouth Cup at its namesake Jersey Shore oval, setting a moderate pace down the backstretch with Calibrate applying some pressure nearing the far turn and Whelen Springs joining the fray approaching the quarter pole. But Proxy kicked clear of them both to win by 2 1/2 lengths while securing a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.
The winning effort followed a disappointing eighth in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on July 1 at Ellis Park, an effort that trainer Michael Stidham said was due to a speed-favoring track.
“I knew going into the Stephen Foster that the track was a conveyer belt for speed. We drew the one-hole with tons of speed outside of us,” Stidham said. “We knew we were going to get a ton of dirt in our face and on that track, it was just impossible to make up any ground. That’s exactly what happened. We got checked around the first turn, got ourselves way back and were unable to make up any ground, so it was a race we just draw a line through.”
Proxy has now won three graded stakes over as many racetracks, capturing the Grade 1 Clark in November at Churchill Downs before narrowly defeating Last Samurai in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April. During his sophomore season, he ran against Mandaloun and Midnight Bourbon in Fair Grounds Race Course’s Kentucky Derby prep series, including runner up finishes in the Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star. Stidham opted to put Proxy on the shelf following that spring and brought him back for a 4-year-old season, which resulted in a 6-2-2-2 record.
“If you go back to his 3-year-old year, where we were running in some of the Derby preps, I made comments that I didn’t think he was quite where he needed to be to keep pushing forward to try to make the Derby,” Stidham recalled. “So we backed off, gave him time, brought him back for his 4-year-old year which was decent. Now, he seems to really be putting things together as a 5-year-old.”
Stidham said the Monmouth Cup was not initially the plan, but that he didn’t want to run Proxy in a race like the Jockey Club Gold Cup from a two-month respite.
“Now, we have almost five weeks going into the Jockey Club Gold Cup with a horse coming off a nice win,” Stidham said. “We wanted to get his confidence back up. He’s doing well. He came out of that race in good shape. Now our focus is the Jockey Club Gold Cup and hoping he runs well there, and we can start thinking about Breeders’ Cup Classic.”
The Jockey Club Gold Cup will be Proxy’s first 10-furlong start since finishing a late-closing second to Stiletto Boy in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March.
Through an 18-6-6-2 record, Proxy boasts earnings of $2,024,970. A Kentucky homebred, Proxy is out of the dual Grade 1-winning millionaire Include mare Panty Raid. He is a half-sister to Micheline, a graded stakes winner on the grass.
Sam’s Treasure bound for G1 Spinaway off Spa maiden score; Ward still mulling options for Eye Witness
Breeze Easy’s Sam’s Treasure provided her connections with an emotional six-furlong maiden special weight victory on Sunday at Saratoga Race Course with a strong 5 3/4-length romp that garnered a 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trained by Wesley Ward, the daughter of Munnings is named for late Breeze Easy partner Sam Ross, who passed away in December at the age of 79.
“I’m really, really happy for the owner – Mike Hall from Breeze Easy,” said Ward. “Unfortunately, Sam Ross passed away and he was always looking forward to having a filly like this. It’s such a shame he isn’t here to enjoy it. We’re very excited for this filly.”
Sam’s Treasure scored the victory with a professional stalking trip under Hall of Famer John Velazquez and pounced on pacesetting rival Life’s Joy at the half-mile call to power home under a hand-ride in late stretch. The effort came on the heels of a debut runner-up finish to Cynane in a five-furlong turf sprint on May 11 at Belmont Park where she was defeated 2 3/4 lengths after a similar stalking trip.
“She came out of it really good,” said Ward. “Early on, she was a big filly and we didn’t want to run her at Keeneland because she was maturing – those races in April, you’ve got to be quick out of the gate and smaller and agile. She had shown some grass affinity early on in her training at Palm Meadows and we were hopeful to win at Belmont, but we were beaten soundly with no excuses. With the experience she got and as sound as she came out of it, we were really pointing to Saratoga and hoping she had an effort in her like the one she showed the other day.”
Ward said Sam’s Treasure will remain on dirt and is likely to point to the Grade 1, $300,000 Spinaway on September 3 at the Spa, where she would stretch out to seven furlongs for the first time.
“She’s at Keeneland at my main base and my main rider Julio Garcia will ride her in training and hopefully get her there to the Spinaway,” said Ward. “Looking at her race at six furlongs, she didn’t show any signs of stopping. It will be tougher in the Spinaway, but she just kept bounding along last time.”
Sam’s Treasure adds to a strong hand of stakes performers Ward holds this summer, including dual stakes-winning New York-bred Eye Witness, who was last seen taking the open-company Paradise Creek by a head on May 20 over yielding turf at Belmont Park.
Owned by Westerberg, Mrs. John Magnier, Jonathan Poulin, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, the son of City of Light was entered in the Quick Call presented by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation on July 16, but scratched when the race was moved to the main track.
“It’s quite unfortunate they took the race off the turf that day,” said Ward. “We were really looking forward to running him, especially on the soft turf as he proved he could handle that in his previous start. It is what it is.”
Ward said Eye Witness now has two options for his next start, either cutting back to 5 1/2 furlongs in the open-company Mahony on August 13, or competing with state-breds in the 1 1/16-mile Rick Violette on August 17, the latter of which would see Eye Witness stretch out beyond sprint distances for the first time since graduating at one-mile over Turfway Park’s synthetic in January.
“We’re sort of leaning towards keeping him in state-bred company right now,” said Ward. “He’s proven that he can go a distance of ground when he broke his maiden, so we’re looking forward to him and hopefully he can move forward from there. He’s doing very, very well.”
Ward added that he will wait for Eye Witness to work over the Oklahoma training track’s turf course again before deciding whether to cut him back or stretch him out for his next outing.
Ward’s other potential upcoming stakes contenders include AMO Racing USA’s Go Bears Go and Three Chimneys Farm’s Princesa Celina. The former could target the Grade 3, $300,000 Troy sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs over the Spa turf on August 5, while the latter is on track for a start in the Grade 3, $200,000 Adirondack sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on August 6.
Go Bears Go has made two starts since being transferred to Ward this spring, including a rallying third-place finish in the Grade 2 Twin Spires Turf Sprint in May at Churchill Downs. He followed with a distant off-the-board finish in the Grade 1 Jaipur on June 10 at Belmont where he stalked the pace in third through the first two points of call under Jose Ortiz and faded after a troubled trip to finish 10 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Caravel.
“He got checked and whatnot in the Jaipur and was in a good position, but he got a rough trip turning for home and I think Jose just kind of raised the white flag with all the trouble he had,” said Ward. “That race was a throw out.”
Ward said he will make a decision “shortly” on whether Go Bears Go will contest the Troy, where he would likely face returning rival Caravel.
Princesa Celina, a 2-year-old daughter of Quality Road, was much the best in her May 4 debut when graduating by 6 1/2 lengths in a five-furlong sprint over a muddy and sealed Big Sandy. Ward said the bay filly continues to train forwardly towards the Adirondack for her first test against winners.
“She’s extremely talented and I’m very excited about that filly,” said Ward. “I’m pretty good at talking, but I’m not going to say any more. We’ll let her do the talking.”
Solo Album breezes in consideration for G1 Alabama; Fev Rover to G1 Beverly D.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Gary Barber and Steven Rocco’s graded-stakes winner Solo Album worked five-eighths in 1:01.33 Wednesday over the Spa main track.
The sophomore daughter of Curlin has made her last two starts traveling 1 1/16-miles over Tapeta at Woodbine Racetrack, graduating in May against elders and following last out with a 6 1/4-length score in the Grade 3 Selene against fellow sophomore fillies.
Casse said he would like to try the $535,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase in the 10-furlong Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama presented by Keeneland Sales on August 19 with the Grade 2, $200,000 Lake Placid, a 1 1/16-mile turf test on the same card, as a back-up plan.
“She went OK today,” Casse said. “We were thinking maybe the Alabama if she liked the dirt. She would like the mile and a quarter – they can’t write them far enough for her, but she’s going to need to show me more than she did today. If not, maybe the Lake Placid.”
Casse, a member of both the U.S. and Canadian Racing Halls of Fame, enjoyed a tremendous Sunday at Woodbine Racetrack, taking the Woodbine Oaks with Elysian Field and the Plate Trial with Paramount Prince.
Both horses – along with multiple stakes-placed Stayhonor Goodside – are expected to make their next start in the $1 million King’s Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown slated for August 20 at Woodbine.
Casse will be well represented on Hall of Fame Weekend here with a pair of graded-stakes winning sophomores in D. J. Stable’s Webslinger in the Grade 1, $600,000 Saratoga Derby on August 5 and D. J. Stable, Medallion Racing, Barry Fowler and Parkland Thoroughbreds’ Papilio in the Grade 3, $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Invitational, second leg of the Fasig-Tipton Fillies Turf Triple series.
Webslinger, a Constitution gelding, sports a ledger of 10-4-2-1 for purse earnings of $905,320. He nosed out Far Bridge to win the Grade 2 American Turf in May at Churchill Downs ahead of a 1 1/4-length score in the nine-furlong Audubon in June over the same course. Last out, Webslinger rallied from last-of-11 to finish a close fourth in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational won by Far Bridge.
Papilio, an Irish-bred daughter of Starspangledbanner, captured the one-mile Grade 2 Appalachian in April at Keeneland. She was a troubled second two starts later in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Regret at Churchill Downs ahead of a closing third last out in the 10-furlong Grade 1 Fasig-Tipton Belmont Oaks Invitational after stumbling at the start.
Casse said Tracy Farmer’s Fev Rover will target the Grade 1 Beverly D. on August 12 at Colonial Downs.
The 5-year-old Gutaifan mare, a Group 2-winner in France as a juvenile, has captured a pair of graded events at Woodbine, taking the Grade 2 Canadian last year and the Grade 2 Nassau in July. She was a game third last out in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Diana on July 15 here, racing on two week’s rest. With Javier Castellano up, Fev Rover saved ground just off the pace of In Italian and on the far turn was to the inside of an onrushing Whitebeam, who was piloted by Flavien Prat. Whitebeam outdueled in Italian for a game nose win, while Fev Rover angled out late to finish a half-length back in third.
“Flavien not only won the race, but he did what he was supposed to do and kept us pinned in,” Casse said. “She got out and she came running into what was really a slow pace, so I thought her race was tremendous. Fev Rover is a serious horse.
“All three of them – to me – in any category, I’d keep my three,” added Casse of the aforementioned turf stars. “Webslinger is as good as any 3-year-old there is on the turf. Papilio is as good as any 3-year-old filly on the turf and Fev Rover is as good as any older filly on turf.”
Casse also indicated that Strong Quality, a last-out fifth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino on June 10 at Belmont, will point to the Grade 1 Arlington Million on August 12 at Colonial, while multiple graded stakes-winner Get Smokin is under consideration for the 11-furlong Grade 2, $250,000 Bowling Green on July 30 here.
Saratoga Race Course Week 4 stakes probables
Sunday, July 30
G2 Bowling Green
Probable: Channel Maker (Bill Mott), Daunt (Bobby Ribaudo), Get Smokin (Mark Casse),Highest Honors (Chad Brown), Master Piece (Rick Dutrow, Jr.), Never Explain (Shug McGaughey), Rebel’s Romance (Charlie Appleby), Rockemperor (Brown), Soldier Rising (Christophe Clement), Tawny Port (Clement), The Grey Wizard (Graham Motion), Verstappen (Brendan Walsh)
Possible: Strong Tide (Michael Lauer), Strong Quality (Mark Casse)
Wednesday, August 2
$135K De La Rose
Probable: Eminent Victor (C. Brown), Evvie Jets (Mertkan Kantarmaci), Lovely Princess (Kenny McPeek), Malavath (Clement), Miss Carol Ann (Motion), Regal Realm (Jonathan Thomas), Runaway Rumour (Horacio De Paz)
Possible: Juncture (Brad Cox), White Frost (Mott)
Thursday, August 3
G2 Glens Falls
Probable: Amazing Grace (Clement), Ever Summer (Clement), McKulick (C. Brown), Vergara (Motion), Virginia Joy (C. Brown), War Like Goddess (Mott)
Possible: Talbeyah (Casse)
Friday, August 4
G2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame
Probable: Appraise (C. Brown), Bat Flip (Todd Pletcher), Behind Enemy Lines (Jack Sisterson), Carl Spackler (C. Brown), General Jim (McGaughey), Mysterious Night (Charlie Appleby), Northern Invader (Cherie DeVaux), Ocean Vision (Tim Donworth)
Possible: Wadsworth (Cox)
G3 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Oaks Inv.
Probable: Allamericanbeauty (McGaughey), American Sonja (Joseph O’Brien), Aspen Grove (James Stack), Be Your Best (De Paz), Caroline Street (J. O’Brien), Elusive Princess (Jean-Philippe Dubois), Honor D Lady (Saffie Joseph, Jr.), Papilio (Casse), Selenaia (Thomas), Speirling Beag (Motion), Strikingly Spun (Joe Sharp), Xigera (Phil Bauer)
Saturday, August 5
Probable: Charge It (Pletcher), Cody’s Wish (Mott), Rattle N Roll (McPeek), Smile Happy (McPeek), Zandon (C. Brown)
Probable: Dorth Vader (George Weaver), Jersey Pearl (Darrin Miller), Maple Leaf Mel (Melanie Giddings), Munnys Gold (Pletcher), Pretty Mischievous (Walsh), Tappin Josie (De Paz)
Possible: Alva Starr (Brett Brinkman), Clearly Unhinged (Michael McCarthy)
G1 Saratoga Derby Inv.
Probable: Battle of Normandy (McGaughey), Far Bridge (Pletcher), Lion of War (Charlie Johnston), Mondego (Clement), Program Trading (C. Brown), Truly Quality (Thomas), Webslinger (Casse)
Probable: Caravel (Cox), Cogburn (Steve Asmussen), Mister Mmmmm (Jason Barkley), Nobals (Larry Rivelli), Thin White Duke (David Donk)
Possible: Go Bears Go (Wesley Ward), Remuda (Eoin Harty)
$135K Fasig-Tipton Lure
Probable: Chazzesmee (Stack), Dakota Gold (Danny Gargan), Doctor Davis (Arnaud Delacour), Emaraaty (C. Brown), Ocean Atlantique (Mike Maker), Portfolio Company (C. Brown), Smokin’ T (McGaughey)
Possible: Santin (Walsh)
Sunday, August 6
Probable: Brightwork (John Ortiz), Copper Elm (Asmussen), Here U Come Again (Cox), Magic Cross (Mott), Princesa Celina (Ward), Saratoga Secret (D. Wayne Lukas), Streaming Now (Paulo Lobo)
Possible: Omaha Girl (Jorge Delgado)