When trainer Jim Cassidy shipped graded stakes winner Epical east from California for a fifth-place finish in this month's Man o' War (G1), it wasn't a one-and-done deal for the connections with the 4-year-old Uncle Mo colt remaining in New York following the race.
Epical breezed four furlongs in 47.24 seconds on Wednesday on the Belmont the main track, after which Cassidy said the bay gelding is in good order.
"He's doing really well," said Cassidy. "He seems to be fine coming out of the race and is continuing to move forward. It was certainly an interesting race to look back on how it developed.
"You had that Aidan O'Brien's horse [Hunting Horn] that went out in front setting a fast pace, and we kind of had to track and follow our way. We just hope we don't run into a situation like that again next."
With four wins from his last five starts including a Grade 2 victory in the San Luis Rey at Santa Anita Park and a second-place finish by a neck in the Grade 2 San Marcos at 1 ¼ miles, Cassidy said he is considering two options next. There's the Grade 1, $1 million Manhattan going 1 ¼ miles on June 8 and the Grade 2, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational at 2 miles the day prior.
"We're in discussions with our owner [Mr. Deron Pearson], but I would say both options are under consideration," said Cassidy. "Right now, our owner has some concerns if he'll be able to handle the two-mile distance. I think he can run all day as well as [jockey] Tyler [Baze] who's gotten to know him well and says he's his favorite horse to ride.
"The only issues he has is at the gate. If he breaks away clean he can run all day."