National Treasure (Quality Road) turned in his first work since winning the May 20 GI Preakness S., going four furlongs in :50.62 (9/15) at Belmont Park Tuesday as he continues preparations for the June 10 GI Belmont S.
With jockey John Velazquez up for trainer Bob Baffert, National Treasure was caught by New York Racing Association clockers in a swift opening split of :23 2/5. Velazquez had the colt under a hold down the lane before letting the talented bay gallop out strongly.
“I wanted to jog him to the mile pole and start him galloping nice and easy. He got pretty strong on the bridle, so I kept him on the outside and Bob told me when I get to the four and a half, just drop him in and try to go :49,” Velazquez said. “He picked it up pretty quick. I slowed him down as best I could and down the lane I just held him together. Going past the sixteenth pole, I gave him his head and let him gallop out.”
It's a beautiful day for a breeze! @PreaknessStakes winner NATIONAL TREASURE breezed a half mile on the main track at #BelmontPark this morning under hall of fame jockey @ljlmvel in preparation for the Belmont Stakes, presented by @NYRABets! pic.twitter.com/MHCnUcsNHq
— Belmont Stakes (@BelmontStakes) May 30, 2023
Velazquez, who won the Belmont with Rags to Riches in 2007 and with Union Rags in 2012, said that he expects National Treasure should be able to handle the stretch out to 12 furlongs in the Belmont S.
“After the races, he always gallops out really strong. I just hope that he can put it together,” Velazquez said. “The whole thing with him is he gets a little spotty. We put blinkers on him and he's been pretty good with them. Hopefully, he stays like that.”
Tom Ryan, managing partner of co-owner SF Racing, was on hand to watch the breeze and said Velazquez was pleased with the work.
“He said he was getting over the track very well, which is most important,” Ryan said. “He said that it's good to get a horse acclimated to the track.”
On the board in five of six starts to date, National Treasure was second in the GI American Pharoah S. and third in the GI Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year. His six starts have come at four different racetracks, providing him with a solid education, according to Ryan.
“He went from Del Mar to Santa Anita to Keeneland and back,” Ryan said. “He got that early education we wanted him to get of getting on the plane and going to Kentucky with a big crowd. He's experienced that now on a number of days on Breeders' Cup to Preakness to this.”
National Treasure was purchased by the stallion-making partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, and Madaket Stables for $500,000 at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale and his ownership line also includes Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.
Asked what a Belmont win would mean for National Treasure's future value as a stallion, Ryan said, “I think it's very important. A race like the Belmont is very important when pairing it with a race like the Preakness. I think a standalone Belmont definitely has value on a resume, but when you put two Classics on your resume, it's pretty hard to top isn't it?”
Also Tuesday, Ryan confirmed the same ownership group's Reincarnate (Good Magic) will skip the Belmont and will be aimed at the GI Travers S. at Saratoga Aug. 26. The gray colt was most recently 13th in the GI Kentucky Derby.
“He'll redirect to the Travers. It'll fit him well and will give him some time to fill up again out of the Derby,” said Ryan. “It feels like he's getting bigger and stronger with time. We all want everything to happen tomorrow, but if you're patient with these horses and give them the chance to be able to be what they can be, it's amazing how they can repay you.”
SF Racing, Startlight Racing and Madaket Stables, along with various partners, will also be represented on the Belmont undercard by Doppelganger (Into Mischief) in the GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan H. and by Fort Bragg (Tapit), Gilmore (Twirling Candy), and Fort Warren (Curlin) in the GI Woody Stephens S.