Before saddling a record five horses in the Grade
1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, trainer Todd Pletcher will send out top
contenders in each of the supporting sprint stakes on Saturday’s
Photo: Reed Palmer Photography
The ageless Caixa Eletronica will return to defend his title in
the Grade 2, $400,000 RTN True North Handicap, while Capo Bastone and
Forty Tales will both represent
Pletcher in the Grade 2, $400,000 Woody Stephens presented by NYRA
Saturday’s 13-race card features six stakes, five of them
graded, highlighted by the 1 ½-mile Belmont, the oldest, last and
longest leg of the Triple Crown.
An 8-year-old son of Arromanches, Caixa Eletronica will make his 63rd career start in the six-furlong True North, a race he won by three-quarters of a length
last year over Justin Phillip, who also returns to the race.
Winner of the Uncle Mo overnight stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in
March to open his year, Caixa Eletronica was fifth when attempting to
repeat in the Grade 2 Charles
Town Classic on April 20 going 1 1/8 miles.
“He’s a warrior,” Pletcher said. “He’s just a really, really
cool horse who shows up every time and seems to get better with age. His
last race wasn’t what we were hoping
for, but the race before that he put on a good performance. He’s
probably a little bit better sprinting than going long, but he seems
like he’s training really well.”
Owned by Repole Stable, Caixa Eletronica has a record of
20-8-11, hitting the board in five of eight lifetime starts at
Park, and all but one of 10 career starts at six furlongs.
“We’re happy with him,” Pletcher said. “He’s shown up here on a
number of occasions and performed really well. We feel like he’s coming
up to this in good shape.”
from a six-month layoff to win the Grade 3 Maryland Sprint Handicap on
the Preakness undercard May 18 at Pimlico in his 2013 debut. Trainer
Rudy Rodriguez comes right back with the 4-year-old
Discreet Cat colt, who brings a four-race win streak into the RTN True
North, and is 2-for-3 at
Belmont and 3-for-5 at the distance.
“We were expecting him to run good, but when you’re coming into a
graded race and coming off [a long] layoff, you don’t know,” Rodriguez
said. “We wanted to get him
going, because you don’t know how long they’re going to last. He looks
like he’s ready to run. He hasn’t missed anything. He’s here, and he’s
good, so we’ll go. He’s a good horse, and the good horses want to run.”
Testing graded stakes waters for the first time in the True
North will be Reload, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for the
Phipps Stable. Reload has won his
last two races by 11 ¾ lengths combined, and has been first or second
in four of five career starts at
“It’s a big step up for him,” McGaughey said. “His last two
races, he won easy. There’s obviously some very solid horses in it, but
I’m looking forward to seeing where
he takes us. We only have to walk 200 yards [from the barn], so we
might as well see. I think he’s got a chance to be that kind of horse.”
A multiple graded stakes winner, Justin Phillip enters the True
North off two straight victories, including the Grade 3 Count Fleet
Sprint Handicap at
Park on April 13 in his most recent effort. Another True North contender, Laurie’s Rocket, was fourth in that race and third to
Valley in the Maryland Sprint Handicap.
Completing the field are Off the Jak, who captured the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint for Florida-breds at
Park on January 19, and Luckysdream.
Pletcher-trained stablemates Forty Tales and Capo Bastone, who
ran 1-2, respectively, separated by only a neck in the Grade 3 Derby
Trial at Churchill Downs on April
27, will hook up again in the seven-furlong Woody Stephens.
In the Derby Trial, favored Forty Tales got off well from post
four and raced on the outside, having enough left to hold off Capo
Bastone, who lunged at the start and
ran at or near the back of the pack before flying late.
“I think they’re very evenly matched,” Pletcher said. “Capo
Bastone got back a little further than probably is ideal in his last
start, but I think he has probably found
his niche in one-turn races coming from a little bit off the pace.
Forty Tales has consistently run well in these types of races.”
The Derby Trial was Forty Tales’ third straight graded stakes
try and first win, though he was second by a half-length in the Grade 2
Hutcheson on February 2, and fifth,
beaten only 3 ¼ lengths, in the Grade 3 Swale, both at Gulfstream Park.
Capo Bastone ran in three consecutive Grade 1 stakes for former
trainer John Sadler in California, including a third in the Breeders’
Cup Juvenile, beaten 2 ¼ lengths
by Champion Two-Year-Old Male Shanghai Bobby.
The chestnut son of Street Boss cuts back for the Woody Stephens
after winning an optional claimer in the slop at 1 1/16 miles in his
3-year-old debut, then finishing
ninth after stumbling at the start of the 1 1/8-mile Grade 3 Spiral
prior to the one-mile Derby Trial.
“We tried to stretch him out a little bit, and he ran some
competitive races,” Pletcher said. “We’re just trying to find out what
his specialty is, and felt like this
will kind of clarify it, backing up to seven-eighths, and kind of tell
us what to do moving forward.
“Forty Tales, we haven’t him beyond the mile because we kind of feel this is what he does best.”
Breaking from the rail in the Woody Stephens is the lightly
raced but talented Declan’s Warrior, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito
for Lucky Shamrock Stable. The 3-year-old
Majestic Warrior colt began a three-race win streak by dead-heating for
first in a 7 ½-furlong optional claimer at
Park on March 9.
Declan’s Warrior followed up by rallying on the outside to beat
Clearly Now by a head in the Grade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct on April 6,
and was a neck better than Tenango
in the Gygistar overnight stakes at Belmont Park on May 22 in an
Zito felt Declan’s Warrior was doing well enough to run back in
just 17 days in what will be only his sixth lifetime start. He is
2-for-2 at both
Park and the seven-furlong distance.
Clearly Now, from the barn of trainer Brian Lynch, looks to turn
the tables on Declan’s Warrior in the Woody Stephens. A $30,000
yearling purchase, the Up Hill Stable
color-bearer won the Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream
Park on March 2.
Also entered are Grade 2 Hutcheson winner Honorable Dillon;
multiple stakes winners Whiskey Romeo and Merit Man, who has been off
since finishing third to Kentucky Derby
winner Orb in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30; Zee Bros, who
captured the $100,000 Chick Lang on the Preakness undercard May 18;
Gygistar runner-up Tenango; Let Em Shine, a winner of three straight
races and the 3-1 morning-line favorite; Salutos Amigos
and Retrieve, who ran fourth and seventh, respectively, in the Bay