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Breen Loaded for Summer Stakes

Trainer Kelly Breen knows he’s got some quality 3-year-olds for the big stakes this summer, and the process of sorting them out will continue in Saturday’s $150,000 Long Branch Stakes, a prep for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 31.


Breen will send out two runners from the George and Lori Hall stable in the mile and a sixteenth Long Branch in the stakes-placed Nacho Saint and the less-accomplished Galaxy Kat.


“Galaxy Kat ran a nice race at Parx last out when we added blinkers,” Breen said. “But is he really a stakes horse? That’s what we’ll find out in the Long Branch.  He has speed, and we’ll probably send him.


“The race could actually set up for Nacho Saint,” Breen said. “He can sit fourth off the speed, like he did in the Gotham, but hopefully he gets a better trip here and is able to close.”


This will be the first stakes start for Galaxy Kat, a gelded son of Empire Maker who is out of Keeneland Kat, winner of the Sorority Stakes here in 2005 for the Halls.


Nacho Saint, on the other hand, will be making his sixth start in a stakes race Saturday. The son of Yes It’s True, who was purchased for $52,000 as a yearling, was second in the Grade 2 Sanford last year, and then ran fifth in the Grade 3 Sapling here.


This year, the colt was given a chance to hit the Triple Crown trail. He ran fourth in the Grade 3 Gotham after trouble at the start, and then ran sixth in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby.


He was sidelined for two months, and returned to run second in an allowance race here on June 4. Last out, Nacho Saint finished third in the Red Legend Stakes at Charles Town.


“He’s a runner,” Breen said, “and I’m upset that he hasn’t broken through yet. I’m hoping this will be his break-through race.”

The top two 3-year-olds in the barn are Ruler on Ice, who has not started since he won the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 11, and Pants on Fire, winner of the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes here on June 18 in his first back off the Kentucky Derby.


There are major stakes races across the U.S. for 3-year-olds in the next two months, including the Haskell Invitational, and Breen said no decisions have been made yet on plans for the stable.


“I’m not sure yet who runs where,” Breen said. “And I’m not sure even who’s riding Pants on Fire with Rosie Napravnik out.”


Napravnik, who won the Louisiana Derby (G2) and the Pegasus aboard Pants on Fire, suffered a fractured left arm in a Delaware Park spill Wednesday and was scheduled to undergo surgery today.



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