Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said Zedan Racing Stables' MGISW and 'TDN Rising Star' Taiba (Gun Runner) will skip Saturday's GI Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan Handicap, at Belmont Park.
Taiba worked seven-furlongs in 1:27.40 Friday at Santa Anita in what was to be his final prep for the one-turn mile. He has not raced since an eighth-place effort in the G1 Saudi Cup February 25 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse.
“His works have been good, but not like I'd like to see them. I just don't think he's ready for something like that yet,” said Baffert. “I'm going to wait and run him at Del Mar. He's doing well, but not well enough for the Met Mile. To run in the Met Mile, you have to bring your 'A' game and I don't think he's quite there yet.”
“I don't know if he's ready to go a mile against top horses,” Baffert conceded. “He's not quite back to where he was. That's a long way to go to run against Cody's Wish.”
SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan's GI Preakness S. winner National Treasure (Quality Road) is slated to breeze Monday in preparation for the GI Belmont S.
Baffert said he is hopeful that National Treasure will appreciate the added ground in the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”
“You never know until they do it,” Baffert said. “He handled the Preakness distance and it wasn't a problem for him. We're all in the same boat. None of them probably want to go that far, but if they don't go too fast, they can do it.
“I just want him to show up like he did at Pimlico,” added Baffert. “He's never really run a bad race. All his races have been competitive. He's a pretty consistent horse. He's happy and he'll breeze tomorrow and hopefully everything goes well.”
Zedan Racing Stables' graded-stakes placed Arabian Lion (Justify), a winner of the Sir Barton S. last time out, was initially under consideration for Saturday's Belmont S. but Baffert decided to point him to the GI Woody Stephens instead.
“On the turnback, sometimes they run well. We'll send him back to two turns again after that,” Baffert said.