Trainer Eric Guillot issued an upbeat bulletin when discussing the potential of Southern Equine Stable's Moreno, the dominant winner of the Grade 2 Dwyer who is taking on Belmont Stakes hero Palace Malice in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy.
"He's probably the most
talented 3-year-old in the country," said Guillot. "If you watch the
Dwyer, his ears are pricked the whole way. He was cooled out by the time
we took the tongue tie off of him. That's how good he is. He ain't
trying now. If he ever decides to try, he'll beat Palace Malice by a
dozen lengths easy, pulling away from him. That's how good he is."
Those are strong words
to describe a horse who needed 10 starts to break his maiden, but
Guillot said Moreno is only now hitting top form after being compromised
earlier in his career by several issues, such as soreness during his
2-year-old season and a lung infection during the winter. Guillot added
that gelding Morneo and adding blinkers might also have helped the
sophomore transform from a maiden to a prominent 3-year-old.
"When he's sound, and healthy, he runs," said Guillot. "When he's not, he don't. It's just that simple."
Moreno's past two starts
have come in one-turn races at Belmont Park, a 6 ¼-length maiden win on
June 8 and the seven-length Dwyer score on July 6, and Guillot said his
top concern going into the Jim Dandy is the race's two-turn trip.
"He might say, 'Hey,
wait a minute!' after he goes down the backside. 'I already went one
turn!"' said Guillot. "He might pull himself out the race and get beat
30 [lengths]. That wouldn't surprise me with this horse. Then again, he
might just say, 'You know what, I'm starting to get this now. I feel
good, I'm sound, I might pull away and beat the whole field.'"
Guillot said he hopes to win the Jim Dandy with Moreno and then run him in the Grade 1 Travers on August 24.
"If I win the Jim Dandy,
I'm going to take the cover off my golf cart and get me a canoe," said
Guillot. "I'm going to put [the canoe] in [the cart and decorate it]
with Southern Equine colors all the way to the Travers."