Plethora of Pletcher workers targeting Belmont Stakes weekend

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TwinSpires Staff

May 27th, 2016

Edited Press Release

Trainer Todd Pletcher has a busy Belmont Stakes weekend in store.

In addition to a pair of possible starters in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1), the third jewel of the Triple Crown which tops a 10-stakes strong program on June 11, the conditioner will be saddling numerous other runners on the undercard and over the weekend.

Pletcher could have as many as four in the $1.25 million Metropolitan H. (G1) earlier on Belmont Stakes Day, and three of those possible runners breezed Friday.

Anchor Down, who posted a 6 3/4-length victory in the Westchester (G3) on May 7, went a half-mile in :47.66, the fastest of 32 at the distance on the fast training  qtrack Friday. The gray son of Tapit ran third in the Gulfstream Park H. (G2) on March 5 before being disqualified to fourth. He then filled out the superfecta again, this time in the Carter H. (G1) at Aqueduct on April 9, one month before the Westerchester.

Stablemate Blofeld actually won the Gulfstream Park ‘Cap and was most recently fourth in the April 16 Oaklawn H. (G2). On Friday, the Quality Road four-year-old went five furlongs in 1:01.63 ahead of the Met Mile for Pletcher.

Last-out Charles Town Classic (G2) winner Stanford, who completed a Pletcher trifecta in the Gulfstream Park ‘Cap when finishing second by a head, went five furlongs in 1:01.85 on Belmont’s training track Friday for the Metropolitan Handicap.

Pletcher said dual Grade 1 hero Mshawish, who finished sixth last out in the March 26 Dubai World Cup (UAE-G1), will breeze Saturday in preparation for the Met Mile.

Also on Friday, Pletcher sent out over the Belmont training track $1 million Ogden Phipps (G1) contender Curalina, who breezed a half-mile in :49.55 in company with Rachel's Valentina, who is being pointed either to the $700,000 Acorn (G1) on the Belmont Stakes undercard or the $300,000 Mother Goose (G1) on July 2.

Curalina actually took the 2015 Acorn before going on to place second in the Coaching Club American Oaks (G1) and Beldame Invitational (G1), and third in the Alabama (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to complete her sophomore campaign. The chestnut daughter of Curlin opened 2016 with a 7 1/2-length romp in the La Troienne (G1) on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs.

Rachel’s Valentina followed her stakes debut win in the Spinaway (G1) last fall with a runner-up effort behind undefeated champion Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Thus far this season the Bernardini filly just missed by a quarter-length in the Ashland (G1) and hopes to rebound off her worse finish to date when sixth last out in the May 6 Kentucky Oaks (G1).

Pletcher added that Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) queen and last-out Madison (G1) runner-up Stopchargingmaria, who is possible for the Ogden Phipps, will breeze Saturday at Saratoga.

On Friday at the Spa, Red Rifle, who finished sixth in his last start in the May 7 Fort Marcy (G3), went a half-mile in :50.28 in preparation for the $400,000 Brooklyn Invitational (G2) on Belmont Stakes Day.

Anchor Down photo courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese Photography