Joking, Paulassilverlining enhance BC credentials in Belmont sprints
Owner-trainer Charlie Baker had Joking ready to run off a layoff approaching four months in Saturday's $350,000 Vosburgh (G1) at Belmont Park. Benefiting from a hot pace set by favorite X Y Jet, the seven-year-old Distorted Humor gelding charged down the middle of the track to post a one-length victory under Manny Franco in the six-furlong Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) prep contested on a muddy track.
Last seen taking the True North (G2) at Belmont on June 10, Joking rolled to his fourth consecutive win in a time of 1:09.18 and paid $10 as the 4-1 third choice. Stallwalkin' Dude and and Weekend Hideaway rounded out the placings.
X Y Jet, making his first start since running second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen (G1) in March, weakened to fifth as the 6-5 favorite after setting a hot pace of :21.59 and :44.12. Morning-line favorite A. P. Indian was scratched due to the off track.
Upset winner of the $100,000 Diablo and the True North during the spring meet, Baker noted after the latter win that Joking would skip the Saratoga meet as his preference is the Belmont surface. Leaving those major sprints to A. P. Indian appears to have been the correct move as Joking now sports a Belmont main track record of 9-6-3-0, and a wet-track tally of 5-4-1-0.
"He was always going to get a layoff for Saratoga," Baker said. "The plan was always to never go there with him and the splint issue he had the timing just worked out good to give him that time off. I actually wanted to run him in the Belmont Sprint [Championship] (G3) because I think that's his best distance, seven-eighths, but unfortunately it didn't work out but we were able to come back for this race and it worked out great."
In the $300,000 Gallant Bloom H. (G2) for fillies and mares, Paulassilverlining maintained her undefeated mark over the Belmont Park main track with a three-quarters of a length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong prep for the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1).
Tracking in the second flight as Momameamaria set a pace of :22.58 and :45.33, Paulassilverlining went around that foe in upper stretch and safely held off an inside rally from Quezon to give jockey John Velazquez is second consecutive stakes win on the card. Finishing third was Wavell Avenue, the 2015 Filly & Mare Sprint winner.
A homebred daughter of Ghostzapper racing for Vincent Scuderi and trained by Michelle Nevin, Paulassilverlining finished up in 1:15.92 and paid $5.60 as the 9-5 favorite.
Paulassilverlining kicked off her four-year-old campaign winning three of her first four, including the Distaff H. (G3) at Aqueduct over Cavorting and the Vagrancy H. (G3) at Belmont, both by convincing margins. However, she met defeat twice at Saratoga, leading late and getting caught by Haveyougoneaway in the Honorable Miss H. (G2), and then finishing fifth to the same rival in the Ballerina (G1) after pressing a hot pace.
"I don't see why she shouldn't [go to the Breeders' Cup]," Nevin said. "This filly has shown up all year, except her last race when she was only beaten two lengths and she might not have gotten the trip she really wants. We'll have to discuss things and see what happens."
(Photo by Teresa Genaro)