Highland Sky stepping up in Belmont Derby; Swipe set for Dwyer

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TwinSpires Staff

July 1st, 2016

Edited Press Release

After an impressive second-place finish in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on June 4, where he traveled seven-wide only to lose by a neck at the wire, stakes scorer Highland Sky will look to move forward in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) on the July 9 Stars & Stripes Festival card at Belmont Park.

With two wins from six lifetime starts, including a victory in the Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct on April 23, the son of Sky Mesa is in good order heading into his next assignment, according to trainer Barclay Tagg, and should appreciate the 1 1/4-mile distance.

"He always has to come from behind and lose ground doing it just to make excuses for himself, but it's pretty hard to run him down," Tagg said.

"He's doing great. I'm very pleased with him. Hopefully the mile-and-quarter will be better for him. He'll be facing better horses too but we'll see."

With the Belmont Derby now eight days away, Tagg confirmed Highland Sky was scheduled to put in one more work on the turf at Belmont Sunday morning.

Other runners under consideration for the Belmont Derby include last year’s Hopeful Stakes (G1) hero Ralis; Grade 2 winner Airoforce, runner-up in the Penn Mile (G3) last out; American Turf Stakes (G2) respective first and second Camelot Kitten and Beach Patrol; recent Arlington Classic Stakes (G3) Surgical Strike; Irish Group 3 scorer Deauville; Tercentenary Stakes (Eng-G3) third Long Island Sound; recent Gleaming Stakes victor Applicator; Aquaphobia, winner of the Stanton Stakes and second in the James W. Murphy Stakes in his past two; Call Provision, a neck third in the Pennine Ridge; and listed victor Humphrey Bogart.

Tagg will also send out Tale of S'avall in the $500,000 Dwyer Stakes (G3) during the Stars & Stripes Festival card.

The dark bay son of Tale of Ekati began the year on the Triple Crown trail but ultimately fell short of a start in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after a fifth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and sixth-place run in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1).

Tale of S'avall regrouped to finish second in the May 6 Gold Fever Stakes at Belmont and most recently recorded a sixth-place effort in the Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) on June 11.

"He's coming along alright," Tagg stated. "We had a little higher hopes for him than we probably should to start, but right now he's doing better and better. Ideally, I'd like for him to sit just off the pace. He likes to make a run at horses. He doesn't want to be on the lead and have them coming to him."

Tagg tentatively confirmed his contender would work early next week in his final breeze for the one-mile Dwyer.

Tale of S'avall will face, among others, the Keith Desormeaux-trained Swipe in the Dwyer.

That Birdstone sophomore got a prep race over the local track on June 26 when finishing a late-running third against allowance rivals, his first race since recovering from a procedure on his throat this spring.

Swipe broke his maiden last summer with a hard-fought win in the Summer Juvenile Championship at Los Alamitos Race Course. He was then a four-time runner-up to eventual Kentucky Derby champion Nyquist in graded contests, including in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

Also on tap for the Dwyer are Easy Goer Stakes winner and Swale Stakes (G2) second Economic Model; Woody Stephens (G2) runner-up Fish Trappe Road; and dual Grade 3-placed maiden runner Laoban, sixth last out in the Preakness Stakes (G1).

Wood Memorial (G1) hero Outwork, 14th in the Kentucky Derby most recently; Florida Derby (G1) runner-up Majesto, last seen running 18th in the Kentucky Derby; and Grade 3-placed Unbridled Outlaw  are questionable.

Highland Sky photo courtesy of NYRA/Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography