With 'so much to prove,' Joevia has new Saudi Cup on his radar

October 08, 2019 12:35pm
With 'so much to prove,' Joevia has new Saudi Cup on his radar
Photo: Taylor Ejdys/EQUI-PHOTO

Exiting the Belmont Stakes with third-place finisher Joevia, Michael Fazio, who campaigns the colt with his brother, Jeff, felt the next race “would have been incredible.”

A son of Shanghai Bobby, Joevia showed ascending speed figures. He nearly took the best of his generation wire to wire in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. And yet Joevia ran a bit green, evidencing room for improvement.

“It still blows my mind,” Fazio said of what happened next.

Inside of two weeks before the Haskell Invitational (G1), a blacksmith shaved one of Joevia’s hooves down too far. The area became inflamed, and despite careful treatment, it flared back up on race day.

Joevia was a late scratch from a race won by Maximum Security, then missed the Travers Stakes (G1) and Pennsylvania Derby (G1).

“I just had a decision to make to put the horse’s best interests first," Fazio said of the Haskell scratch. Afterward, “He wasn’t back into form yet, so we said we’ll just send him down to the farm."

The break will end Wednesday when Joevia re-enters training at Red Oak Farm in Ocala, Fla., with an eye toward the new $20 million Saudi Cup that runs Feb. 29, 2020.

A growing list of possible contenders for the 1 1/8-mile Saudi Cup begins with Gronkowski, most recently a narrow Dubai World Cup (G1) runner-up behind Thunder Snow. American-based runners such as Maximum Security, Mr. Money and Bravazo have also been connected to the lucrative upstart race.

Joevia, who will eventually return to trainer Gregg Sacco for conditioning, should have Aqueduct’s Toboggan (G3) in January as a Saudi Cup prep.

“We want the experience, the thrill, the excitement,” Fazio said. But also: “The horse still has so much to prove to the horse racing world. We feel he has the ability, and he’s just getting better and better.”

Joevia has finished out of the money only once in six starts, when he ran off at the beginning of the Wood Memorial (G2). The colt returned to win Monmouth Park’s Long Branch Stakes, then carried his speed in the Belmont until overtaken in the final furlong by Sir Winston and Tacitus.

Just 1 3/4 lengths back at the wire, Joevia improved his record to 2-2-1 with earnings of $281,600 — a number that could balloon if connections receive a Saudi Cup invitation.

“We just have to show that we’re getting back to the track and we’re running,” Fazio said. “That’s 100% my target.”

 

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