By Christina Bossinakis
Several runners hoping to lineup in next weekend's GI Belmont S. registered their final major preparatory works at Belmont Park Saturday morning. Among them was Twisted Tom (Creative Cause), who went to the main track shortly after the renovation break. Accompanied by his usual pilot Peter Roman, the gelding covered five furlong in 1:01.13 before galloping out six panels in 1:13 4/5.
“He executed it perfectly,” confirmed trainer Chad Brown. “We wanted a nice, steady five-eighths.”
Undefeated in a trio of starts this term, Twisted Tom most recently scored in a sloppy renewal of the Federico Tesio S. at Laurel Apr. 22.
“He's trained really well since the Tesio,” said Brown. “The Belmont has been our goal sine then; we've been trying to figure out to get him to the race. Obviously, it will be a big class test for him, but I've been anxious to try him at 1 ½ miles.”
Also breezing five furlongs on the main track in anticipation of a start in the 12-furlong Classic, Meantime (Shackleford) negotiated the distance in 1:01.66 with jockey Mike Luzzi aboard.
“It wasn't the most orthodox work,” said trainer Brian Lynch. “We tried to work him with another horse and the other horse broke off too far in front of him, but he had a good target to chase. The work was comfortable enough. [I] didn't want Mike to push on him too hard, we worked him quite quick last week, a little quicker than I wanted going into a long race. It was more of a comfort work today with a good gallop out, and inevitably he ended up catching the horse on the gallop out.”
In his last two starts, the Silverton Hills runner won by 7 ½ lengths at Keeneland in April before finishing second behind Timeline in the GIII Peter Pan S. May 13.
“When I look at the big picture, it probably was a pretty good work,” Lynch continued. “[He] went 1:01 and change and out in 1:14, so I think it was the work we were looking for. Watching him come off the track, he had minimal blow and seemed to have a good recovery rate. I think he's a pretty fit horse going into it, so I think we'll roll the dice and move forward.”
Lynch confirmed that Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith will be aboard Saturday.
“I hadn't really committed to a rider and he was available,” he explained. “So I thought, nobody better than a big money rider for a race like this, and I've got a long rapport with Mike from California years ago, so I think if he feels I'm going to take a shot, he'll take a shot with me. He's certainly a rider who shows up on big days and, hopefully, we've got an up-and-coming horse that provides the talent he needs to get it done.”
GIII Illinois Derby winner Multiplier (The Factor) breezed a half-mile in :48.60 at Keeneland Saturday morning. In tandem with regular workmate War Union (Union Rags), the grey galloped out in '1:01 and change,' according to trainer Brendan Walsh, who was aboard for the move.
“He worked great,” said Walsh. “Everything went according to plan, so we're all set for the Belmont. It was good, just a routine work. Nothing special. He's fit and ready to go. We just wanted to make sure everything was in order, and it is. So we're going.”
Multiplier will be ridden by Joel Rosario in the Belmont.
On the West Coast, Gormley (Malibu Moon) worked seven furlongs in 1:26.20 under regular rider Victor Espinoza following the 9 a.m. renovation break Saturday morning. Following the move, trainer John Shirreffs said he remained undecided on whether the GI Santa Anita Derby winner would run in the final jewel of the Triple Crown.
“[Jockey] Victor [Espinoza] was very pleased with the work, and I thought the horse looked sensational,” said Shirreffs. “But, we haven't made up our minds yet [on the Belmont]. I haven't discussed it with [part owner] Mr. [Jerry] Moss, and we haven't talked about the logistics of shipping.”
Gormley, who worked solo for the first time and with blinkers recorded fractional times of :24.60, :36.80, :48.80, 1:00.80 and 1:13 for six furlongs, galloped out a mile in 1:40.60.
Gormley, ninth in the May 6 GI Kentucky Derby, did not run in the GI Preakness S. May 20.