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Brigand Tackles NY Breds in Mike Lee

Brigand, who has finished second in a pair of graded stakes, will make his first start against New York-breds when he competes in the Mike Lee, one of two $125,000 stakes on Sunday at Belmont Park.

 

Both the Mike Lee and the Bouwerie will be contested at seven furlongs. The Mike Lee is open to all New York-bred 3-year-olds, while the Bouwerie is restricted to New York-bred 3-year-old fillies.

 

Brigand began his career by posting a record of 1-2-0 in five starts in Southern California, including a second in the 2011 Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship for owner Kaleem Shah and Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. He has stayed in New York since coming east for Aqueduct Racetrack’s Grade 2 Jerome on April 21, tracking front-running The Lumber Guy throughout to finish second, beaten 2 ¾ lengths.

 

Since the Jerome, Brigand has posted five workouts at Belmont Park, including a 1:26 seven-furlong move in company with eventual Belmont Stakes runner-up Paynter on June 3, a 59.40 five-furlong breeze on June 10, and a bullet 58.60 five-furlong breeze on June 18.

 

Jim Barnes, assistant to Baffert, said the long-term plan has been to focus on New York-bred stakes with Brigand.

 

“We came out for the Jerome, and he ran huge,” said Barnes. “We knew these [New York-bred] races were coming up. He needs the chance to keep running and keep fit. He’s ready right now.”

 

Brigand, the 3-5 morning-line favorite, will leave from post position 3 with new rider Javier Castellano aboard.

 

Six New York-based colts and geldings are set to face the California invader in the Mike Lee, including the 4-1 morning-line second choice Willy Beamin, who has won three in a row, including two since being claimed for $25,000 by trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. for owner James A. Riccio.

 

Claimed out of a 5 ¾-length victory at Aqueduct on March 23, Willy Beamin took an allowance by 6 ½ lengths on May 10 and an optional claimer by 2 ¼ lengths on Wednesday, both state-bred races at Belmont.

 

Mike Luzzi will ride Willy Beamin from post 7.

 

Flying Zee Stable has a coupled entry, comprising The Prize Fighter and Night Maneuver, that was installed at 5-1 on the morning line for the Mike Lee.

 

The Prize Fighter enters Sunday’s race off a neck victory in an entry-level allowance for New York-breds at the Mike Lee’s seven-furlong distance on May 12. It was his first win since his maiden score at Saratoga Race Course last year, having finished third in both Saratoga’s Gold and Roses and Belmont’s Bertram F. Bongard, a pair of New York-bred stakes, during that span.

 

“I think [the Mike Lee is] a tough race, considering Baffert’s horse being in there, but I think [The Prize Fighter is] more than capable,” said trainer Phil Serpe. “We had a lot of hopes for him as a 2-year-old. He was a little disappointing when he was third in the stakes races last fall, but hopefully he can move forward.”

 

The Prize Fighter will depart from post 4 with Jose Lezcano aboard.

 

Carlos Martin trains Night Maneuver, who defeated The Prize Fighter when taking the Bongard. The gelded son of Orientate has made one start since then, finishing third in the Toccet at Aqueduct in November.

 

Night Maneuver will have the services of Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado from the rail.

 

Even Got Quiet, Quiet Favorite, and Swag Daddy complete the Mike Lee field.

 

In the Bouwerie, Flying Zee will send out Harbor Mist, the 3-1 second choice. She seeks her first stakes victory since her score in last year’s Anne Clare at Saratoga. As a 3-year-old, she has won three of five starts and enters Sunday’s race off a pair of optional claiming victories at Belmont: a 4 ¾-length win against New York-breds in the mud on May 4 and a one-length decision against open company in an off-the-turf race on June 2.

 

Harbor Mist will cut back in distance for the Bouwerie, having won going 1 1/16 miles in her most recent start.

 

“She’s already has three wins this year, one was on the turf and two were on dirt, and she ran a huge race in her last start,” said trainer Phil Serpe. “You’d expect a horse and hope a horse can move forward from their 2-year-old year to their 3-year-old year. She’s won at [seven-eighths] before, and I think, considering the big turn at Belmont, she should be fine.”

 

Harbor Mist will leave from post 3 with Prado in the irons.

 

Dennis Narlinger’s Sacred Success, the 2-1 Bouwerie favorite, has won three of her past four, including a 6 ¼-length triumph against New York-breds on May 10. The Bouwerie will be the Rick Dutrow trainee’s first start beyond six furlongs.

 

Junior Alvarado will ride Sacred Success, who drew post 6.

 

The Bouwerie field also includes Hot Splash, Fiftyfour Forever, Shesabronxbomber, Lemon Splendor, Mischief Maker, and the coupled entry of Beautiful But Blue and Newbie.

 

The field for the $125,000 Mike Lee (NYB):

Program No.

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

1

Night Maneuver (NY)

E S Prado

120

C F Martin

5-1

1a

4

The Prize Fighter (NY)

J Lezcano

118

P M Serpe

5-1

2

2

Even Got Quiet (NY)

K J Desormeaux

116

A Ronen

15-1

3

3

Brigand (NY)

J Castellano

116

B Baffert

3-5

4

5

Quiet Favorite (NY)

I Ortiz, Jr.

118

L Gyarmati

20-1

5

6

Swag Daddy (NY)

R Napravnik

120

R E Dutrow, Jr.

10-1

6

7

Willy Beamin (NY)

M J Luzzi

120

R E Dutrow, Jr.

6-1

 

The field for the $125,000 Bouwerie (NYB):

Program No.

PP

Horse

Jockey

Wgt

Trainer

Odds

1

5

Beautiful But Blue (NY)

J Alvarado

122

T M Bush

5-1

1a

9

Newbie (NY)

J Lezcano

122

J C Kimmel

5-1

2

1

Hot Splash (NY)

C H Velasquez

122

R A Violette, Jr.

8-1

3

2

Fiftyfour Forever (NY)

M J Luzzi

122

A T Quartarolo

8-1

4

3

Harbor Mist (NY)

E S Prado

122

P M Serpe

3-1

5

4

Shesabronxbomber (NY)

R Napravnik

116

L Rivelli

15-1

6

6

Sacred Success (NY)

J Castellano

122

R E Dutrow, Jr.

2-1

7

7

Lemon Splendor (NY)

E Castro

120

G Weaver

10-1

8

8

Mischief Maker (NY)

D Cohen

116

B R Brown

6-1

 

 

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