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Wednesday’s Belmont S. Updates


Master Fencer

Japanese invader Master Fencer (Jpn) (Just a Way {Jpn}) breezed five furlongs in 1:01.48 (2/2) over the Belmont main track Wednesday morning in preparation for the June 8 GI Belmont S. (video). Jockey Julien Leparoux, who rode the chestnut to a sixth-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby May 4, was supposed to be aboard for the work, but his flight from Kentucky was canceled, so regular exercise rider Yosuke Kono was in the irons. The horse stumbled near the eighth pole, so Kono pulled him up just past the finish line. The colt appeared fine and cooled out in good order later at the barn.

“Up until the eighth pole, he was breezing really well and I was so satisfied,” Kono said via a translator. “All of a sudden, he stumbled, and gradually shifted to the left by the rail. I switched my whip to make him aware and focus to the end of the breeze. We then recovered but it was feeling a little weird so I tried to stop him as soon as possible. After the work he had a light jog and there were no problems. I don’t think it’s something that will cause a major issue.”

Master Fencer was last most of the way in the Derby, closing strongly late to cross the line seventh, but was promoted to sixth via DQ. Kono said the extra two furlongs in the Belmont will benefit the colt.

“He has a big heart and big lungs and is better suited to the longer distance,” said Kono. “He is not the type to make crazy speed. He has a long, strong late kick. For him, the mile and a half will be a lot better.”

Mark Casse originally said he would breeze his GI Preakness S. winner War of Will (War Front) this week in preparation for the Belmont, but he has decided to skip that work and gallop into the race.

“He’s not going to breeze. We kind of feel like he’s in a very happy place and relaxed right now and we want him to be that way going 1 1/2 miles so I don’t really see any reason to,” Casse said. “We know his Preakness was good and I didn’t breeze him into that. We are going to do it our way. So he is not going to breeze.”

War of Will has been training at Keeneland since the Preakness under assistant trainer David Carroll and will ship to New York Monday. He will be the only horse this year to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

The Brad Cox-trained Owendale (Into Mischief) has been removed from Belmont consideration. The GIII Stonestreet Lexington S. winner may be pointed to the June 22 GIII Ohio Derby.

“We’re going to bypass on the Belmont. He’s great, doing outstanding. Maybe the Ohio Derby [next],” said Cox. “[The distance] and a combination of coming back in three weeks is asking him a lot.”

Cox will send out a trio of runners on Belmont weekend in GII Belmont Gold Cup contender Arklow (Arch), GI Just a Game S.-bound Beau Recall (Ire) (Sir Prancealot {Ire}) and Jersey Girl S. runner Break Even (Country Day).


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