Multiple Grade I winner Diversify (Bellamy Road) returned to the worktab for the first time since last September with a three-furlong move in :37.00 (4/41) Saturday over the Belmont training track. Owned by Ralph and Lauren Evans, Diversify won the 2017 GI Jockey Club Gold Cup S. and 2018 GI Whitney S. for late trainer Rick Violette. Saturday was the 6-year-old gelding’s first work for new trainer Jonathan Thomas.
“I was really surprised,” said Thomas. “He’s a quiet horse galloping in the morning and I thought he’d maybe need a little slow three-eighths [work] and he ended up breezing in :37, very well on the muscle. He came back to the barn and cooled out quickly. I thought maybe we were off schedule just because it took us a while to get him going. But from what I saw today, I think we’re, if not on schedule, maybe even head of schedule.”
Violette’s longtime assistant Melissa Cohen recently joined Thomas’s barn to head his New York division.
“Rick did a tremendous job with this horse and we’re the beneficiaries of Rick and Melissa’s hard work,” Thomas said. “We’re just honored to have him and hopefully we can continue his good work.”
Also working for the Thomas barn Saturday was last year’s GI Travers S. winner Catholic Boy (More Than Ready), who went five furlongs in 1:02.19 (1/5) over the inner turf course and in company with stakes winner Osare (Medaglia d’Oro). Catholic Boy is possible for Saturday’s GII Dixie S. at Pimlico.
“The Dixie is possibly a soft target,” Thomas said. “We’re going to talk to the owners and our other partners about some other options. We could, off of that, from what I saw today possibly be ready for the Dixie. We’ll know in a couple of days. We’d love to target races like the GII Suburban and even the GI Whitney or GI Woodward would be massive targets. The fact that he’s been productive as a 2-year-old and 3-year-old in Saratoga, to do something nice up there this summer would be great.”
Osare, a half-sister to champion Arrogate (Unbridled’s Song), may make her first start since winning the Dueling Grounds Oaks last September in the May 18 Searching S. at Pimlico.
“I was really pleased with her,” said Thomas. “They’re both targeting the same weekend and both coming off of big breaks. They coincided from a training schedule perspective. While I thought he was maybe getting the better of her on the dirt the past two weeks, I thought she more than held her own on the turf today. She breezed really well.”
Thomas continued, “There’s the Searching at Pimlico going a mile and a half and there’s an allowance race here at Belmont on Sunday. We’ll look at both spots and see which makes the most sense and then target, we’ll see what happens.”