Pletcher adds Dr Post to his array of Belmont Stakes contenders

Pletcher adds Dr Post to his array of Belmont Stakes contenders
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park

Todd Pletcher has a trio set for the 2020 Belmont Stakes.

Pletcher says each of Dr Post, Farmington Road and Gouverneur Morris will represent his barn in the 152nd renewal of the Grade 1, $1 million race to be run at 1 1/8 miles this year and kick off the Triple Crown series.

Pletcher said he's also looking forward to the return of live racing in New York, which will celebrate Opening Day on Wednesday, June 3, at Belmont Park.

"It's an important part of the industry and arguably the most important in the United States," Pletcher said. "It's great to see racing approaching re-opening at Belmont Park.

A dark bay son of Quality Road, St. Elias Stable's Dr Post is out of the graded-stakes winning sprinter Mary Delaney. He finished fourth in a loaded maiden race on debut in July at Belmont Park won by Green Light Go, who exited that event to win the Grade 2 Saratoga Special.

Dr Post graduated at second asking on March 29 in a seven-furlong maiden sprint at Gulfstream Park and followed up at the Hallandale oval with a 1 1/2-length win last out on April 25 in the 1 1/16-mile Unbridled.

"I was impressed that he was able to get going at seven-eighths and get up in time, and then take a step forward stretching out to a mile and a sixteenth," Pletcher said. "A mile and an eighth should suit him well."

The veteran conditioner said Dr Post shares some similarities with his sire, the multiple Grade 1-winning Quality Road, who was also trained by Pletcher.

"He's versatile enough that he can run multiple distances, but we've always felt like he was looking for more ground," Pletcher said. "Certainly, to go from a maiden win to a stakes race like he did against seasoned horses, we felt he handled that step up in class pretty well. We like the way he's been training and if he continues to train like he is, we'll focus on the Belmont."

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables and Robert V. LaPenta's Farmington Road, also by Quality Road, graduated at third asking in a maiden route on January 12 at Tampa Bay Downs. The bay followed up with a pair of deep-closing efforts when fourth in the Grade 2 Risen Star won by Mr. Monomoy and second in the Oaklawn Stakes captured by Mr. Big News.

Last out, Farmington Road finished fourth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby which was won by likely Belmont Stakes rival Nadal.

"He's a horse that likes to drop back and make one run," said Pletcher. "He'd benefit from a good, solid pace and unfortunately we've found ourselves in a few races where there hasn't been much pace on. He's still closed well, but would certainly benefit from a hot pace up front."

Team Valor International and WinStar Farm's Gouverneur Morris, a gray or roan son of Constitution, was a nine-length winner on debut at Saratoga Race Course on September 2. He finished second next out in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland to Maxfield, who captured Saturday's Grade 3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.

After winning an optional-claiming tilt in his seasonal debut at Tampa Bay Downs, Gouverneur Morris finished fourth in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, which was captured by Belmont Stakes contender Tiz the Law. Last out, Gouverneur Morris was a closing third in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby to complete a trifecta of Belmont Stakes hopefuls in the undefeated Charlatan and last year's Grade 1 Hopeful hero Basin.

Pletcher said he was pleased with the Arkansas Derby run from Gouverneur Morris.

"I thought it was a good effort. He's also looking for the right kind of trip and it seemed that at Oaklawn that day it was hard to make up a lot of ground," said Pletcher. "Ideally, he's suited for a race with a true pace where he can settle and make one run.

"He didn't have a bad trip in the Arkansas Derby, but at the same time he was never really able to settle into the rhythm you'd like him to," added Pletcher. "He always had horses inside and outside of him and in front of him and he was always in an awkward position, so I thought it was encouraging that he continued on and tried to the wire.

In terms of other Pletcher 3-year-olds, Wertheimer and Frere's Portos, by Tapit, graduated at fourth asking on New Year's Eve in the slop at the Big A. He followed up with a rallying third in the Grade 3 Withers in February at Aqueduct, but faltered last out when off-the-board in the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds.

Portos is entered in an allowance event on Thursday's card at Churchill.

Pletcher also noted that well-regarded maiden winner Candy Tycoon is continuing to train at Palm Beach Downs in Florida toward a return later in the summer, and that fellow maiden winner Texas Swing is being freshened for a return at Saratoga.

2020 Belmont Stakes (G1)

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