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Master of Hounds Clears Quarantine

Master of Hounds prepares for the BC Juvenile Turf at Churchill Downs

Cleared from quarantine at Aqueduct Racetrack, Mrs. John Magnier’s Master of Hounds took a van ride to Belmont Park a little after 6 a.m., and arrived full of himself at his temporary home in trainer John Hertler’s barn.

 

T. J. Comerford, assistant to trainer Aidan O’Brien, sent the world-traveling Belmont Stakes contender out for a steady one-mile canter, which gave the colt his first feel for the Belmont Park main track. With exercise rider Pat Lillis aboard, Master of Hounds galloped easily around, staying close to the rail, with Woodford Reserve Manhattan Handicap entrant Viscount Nelson slightly behind him, well out in the center of the track.

 

“He got a bit wound up,” Comerford said of Master of Hounds’ arrival at Belmont. “Mostly, he was too fresh. All we could do there [in quarantine] was walk in the barn.”

 

Despite the heat, Master of Hounds appeared comfortable, according to Comerford.

 

“Once he was out on the track, he didn’t sweat at all,” the assistant trainer said. “My lad sweated more than him.”

 

Back in his stall afterward, Master of Hounds kept his ears pricked and showed a strong interest in the activity around him, letting out several loud whinnies.

 

A Kentucky-bred by Kingmambo out of a Sadler’s Wells mare, Master of Hounds has the pedigree to excel at the Belmont’s 1 ½-mile distance. He was selected at a very early age by Coolmore/Ballydoyle for international competition.

 

“We thought he would be well-suited to the American style of racing, but you can never be sure how they will handle the dirt until they try it,” said Coolmore spokesman Richard Henry. “He has a great temperament and has coped extremely well with all the traveling.”

 

That travel has included a trip to Churchill Downs last fall for a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, a long journey to Dubai for a nose defeat in the Grade 2 UAE Derby in March, and then a closing fifth-place finish May 7 in the Kentucky Derby.

 

Comerford said jockey Garrett Gomez was very excited about the horse after the Kentucky Derby and figured he would have finished closer than 5 ½ lengths back had there been more distance to run beyond the mile and a quarter.

 

From Churchill, it was back to Ireland to train over the woodchip training track at Ballydoyle for the Belmont, Henry said.

 

Comerford said Master of Hounds would gallop on the main track at 6:30 a.m., Friday morning. “That’s the end of it,” he said of the colt’s preparation. “There will be no problem.”

 

Viscount Nelson, a 4-year-old son of Giant’s Causeway, was selected to join Master of Hounds at Belmont this weekend because “we think he should be suited by the conditions and the style of American racing,” Henry said.

 

Last year, the colt raced in four straight Group 1 races in Europe, his best finish a third, just a length behind the older, top-class Twice Over in the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park.

 

In his second start this year as a 4-year-old, Viscount Nelson tracked the leaders and took over in the final furlong to win a listed stakes race by 3 ½ lengths. Both that victory and the placing against Twice Over came at the 1 ¼-mile Manhattan distance.

 

“He should appreciate firm going,” Henry said. “We know it’s going to be a hot contest but are hopeful that our horse will acquit himself well. We have always thought very highly of him, and as he’s by Giant’s Causeway we were always hopeful that he would improve again this year.”

 

 

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