Irish War Cry on Track for Haskell

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Irish War Cry & Ascend | Anita Motion

Isabelle de Tomaso’s Irish War Cry (Curlin) continued preparations for the July 30 GI Haskell Invitational with a six-furlong breeze at Fair Hill Training Center Sunday morning. Working in company with Grade I winner Ascend (Candy Ride {Arg}), the chestnut covered the distance in 1:14 flat.

“I was very pleased with them,” trainer Graham Motion said after the work. “They went a nice three-quarters on the dirt and did it how I wanted them to do it. When you’ve got horses like that, it’s always a little bit hard to match them up, especially with a 3-year-old, I think. He had breezed with Painter’s Rags (Union Rags) the last two weeks, but I felt like, for a more serious work, I thought it was a little unfair on Painter’s Rags to keep breezing them together.”

The 5-year-old Ascend, coming off a win in the June 10 GI Manhattan S. over the Belmont lawn, could make his next start in either the July 29 GII Bowling Green S. at Saratoga or the Aug. 12 GI Arlington Million.

“I had breezed Ascend and him together before and Ascend breezes very well on the dirt, so it just seemed like a logical combination,” Motion said. “I don’t always breeze 3-year-olds with older horses, but obviously he’s a bit of an exception.”

Irish War Cry, winner of the GII Wood Memorial in April, was 10th in the GI Kentucky Derby before a runner-up effort behind Tapwrit (Tapit) in the June 10 GI Belmont S.

“I’ve been very happy with him,” Motion said of Irish War Cry. “He really hasn’t missed a beat. He had an easy half [in :49.20] three weeks after the Belmont and then we stepped it up the last couple of weekends [six furlongs 1:13.00 July 9]. I’m pretty happy with how he’s done, really.”

Painter’s Rags, a debut winner at Laurel last December, has been off since finishing third in a Gulfstream allowance Feb. 3 and having surgery to remove a knee chip. The Chadds Ford Stable runner could return in the July 22 Concern S. at Laurel.

In other Haskell news, Classic Empire (Pioneerof the Nile) will skip the July 30 race and will instead train up to the Aug. 26 GI Travers S. at Saratoga, trainer Mark Casse told TDN Sunday, confirming a story which first appeared in Daily Racing Form. Classic Empire has been off since finishing a gallant second behind Cloud Computing (Maclean’s Music) in the May 20 GI Preakness S. A foot abcess knocked him out of an expected start in the Belmont S.

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