Kentucky Derby Doings: Haikal, Tax Breeze at Belmont


Tax (right) winning the Withers | Sarah K Andrew

A pair of New York-based hopefuls for next Saturday’s GI Kentucky Derby got in their final major works for the race at Belmont Park Thursday morning.

Breezing over the Belmont training track, GII Wood Memorial S. runner-up Tax (Arch) earned the bullet for his four-furlong drill that was timed in :47.80 (1/48) (XBTV video). Breaking off a few lengths behind his company, Tax drew even at the furlong marker and strode out nicely through the line, then was asked for a strong gallop out while receiving a tap of his rider’s turned-down whip entering the turn.

“I thought he worked really tremendous,” trainer Danny Gargan told the NYRA notes team following the work. “We put a target in front of him because he likes to run at something and 47 and change is fast today. I worked a few horses earlier today and no one worked that fast. The gallop out was impressive and he’s training really well. Obviously, he’s bred to go longer, and we train our horses to gallop out big. When you’re going a mile and a quarter you want to have a fit horse.”

Tax ships to Churchill this Sunday.

Also breezing towards the Run for the Roses was Shadwell Stable’s Wood Memorial third Haikal (Daaher), who covered five furlongs over the Belmont main track in 1:01.21 (XBTV video). Working in the company of his unraced stablemate Taamer (Distorted Humor), Haikal broke off eagerly, then was taken well in hand for the run around the sweeping turn. He swapped leads on cue in upper stretch while still under stout restraint and was doing his best work through the wire. Though he was not asked, he also galloped out with good energy.

Though Haikal worked a bullet half-mile in :47.59 Apr. 19, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was happier with this week’s more measured move.

“I loved what I saw this morning. He kept going out and finished strong. It was an excellent work,” said McLaughlin. “He went a little fast last week, but it was probably the track. This week was really nice. The way he galloped out and the way he worked he looked really good. In hand. I really like this work better this week.”

Haikal vans to Louisville Sunday, with an expected early Monday morning arrival.


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