Creator works for Belmont, Irad Ortiz to ride
Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Creator, who finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), breezed five furlongs in 1:02 Monday over a fast main track at Churchill Downs in preparation for his next start in the $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1) on June 11.
Working in company with stable mate Gold Hawk, the son of Tapit recorded fractions of :13 and :37.80, and galloped out six furlongs in 1:15 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:28.80 with Florent Geroux in the irons.
"He felt really good," Geroux said. "That was my first time on his back. It was a steady work; nothing crazy, but it was nice and steady and he felt very good."
Trainer Steve Asmussen designed Monday morning's work to prepare Creator for the Belmont's 1 1/2-mile distance.
"We wanted to keep him in a nice long rhythm," Asmussen said. "The Belmont is on his agenda obviously, so staying is going to come into play. I thought that he put in a nice, smooth work today and galloped out really well. I think that his weight has rebounded nicely since the Derby and we plan on sending him up to Belmont tomorrow. That will give us a shot to get a little look of the Belmont racetrack and hope for the best."
Asmussen believes that Creator's breeding will help him in excelling at the distance.
"You get a lot of comfort from his pedigree and how much stay is in his pedigree," Asmussen said. "He is a very efficient horse. I'm just a little concerned right now with the possible pace scenario with this year's Belmont. He's a really nice horse. I think we've seen his attitude has improved and his energy level is very high right now. We're excited about this prospect for the Belmont.
"I think for us the race is from Point A to Point B and you have to do what's right for the individual. The lack of pace is a concern or the possibility of it. Sometimes a lack of pace on paper sets it up."
Asmussen's confidence level was high going into the Kentucky Derby.
"I liked his chances in the Derby, it's just that the trip didn't work out," Asmussen said. "I think when horses are this well matched, being good enough is one of the scenarios but how the racetrack sets up and how the pace sets up have to be favorable to us as well."
Asmussen has chosen jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. to pilot Creator in the Belmont.
"Belmont Park is a unique place so we couldn't do any better for somebody who knows the racetrack better than Irad," Asmussen said.
Also on the work tab Monday for Asmussen was Kentucky Derby third-place finisher Gun Runner, who is pointing to the $100,000 Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs on the June 18 "Downs After Dark" Stephen Foster Night undercard. Gun Runner went five furlongs in 1:01 with fractions of :12.60, :24.40 and :36.40 and a gallop out in 1:14.60 and 1:28.40.
"With Gun Runner and Creator there is a lot of the year left and they're both top class horses so we'll get to prove that before the year is over," Asmussen said.