Point of Entry missed his much-anticipated engagement with Horse of the Year Wise Dan on Kentucky Derby Day, but he’s set to go no matter what today.
A winner of three Grade I races in 2012 — with no end-of-year honors to show for it — the Phipps Stable turf star is 3-5 on the morning line for the Grade I Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
With Orb in the Belmont, trainer Shug McGaughey will saddle the favorite in the two biggest races of the day, back-to-back.
Point of Entry scratched from the Woodford Reserve at Churchill Downs because the turf course wasn’t drying out fast enough, and McGaughey didn’t want the 5-year-old son of Dynaformer attempting what is a short distance for the horse — nine furlongs — under those circumstances. The Manhattan is a mile and a quarter on Belmont’s inner turf course.
“I’ll tell you one thing, there isn’t a horse on the grounds training any better than him,” McGaughey said. “He’s fresh. You can ask [exercise rider] Jenn [Patterson]. I was laughing at her [on Wednesday morning] because she had all she could handle. He’s about as good as a horse can get.”
The day after the Derby, McGaughey fielded a seemingly endless string of questions about Orb, but also addressed the scratch of Point of Entry, denying fans a chance to see him take on Wise Dan, who won the Woodford Reserve.
He said he appreciated the fans’ disappointment, but “It was a mile and an eighth on soft turf there, so I have no problems about what I did.
“If we had run at Churchill, we wouldn’t have run [today]. We would’ve run in the Man ‘o War, then the Arlington Million, Turf Classic and the Breeders’ Cup. The main objective is the Breeders’ Cup. When we didn’t run, we needed to run in the Manhattan because we needed to run.”
Point of Entry has just one start this year, a win in the Grade I Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap four months ago.
MORE BELMONT UNDERCARD
Besides the Manhattan, the Belmont undercard includes three other graded stakes and the $150,000 mile-and-a-sixteenth Easy Goer, which drew two horses, Always in a Tiz and Power Broker, who had been considered for the Belmont.
Mechanicville native Chad Brown will saddle Dayatthespa in the Grade I Just A Game for fillies and mares at a mile on the turf.
The field also includes the red-hot Mizdirection, who ships from California for co-owner Jim Rome.
She’s won eight of her last nine, including the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint against males, but hasn’t run outside California since finishing fourth in the Raven Run at Keeneland in October of 2011.
Grade I winner Dayatthespa, a New York-bred daughter of City Zip, has lost just once in her last seven starts, a fifth in the Grade I Matriarch to Better Lucky, who is in the Just A Game field.
“I’m hoping she’ll move forward in her second race off the layoff, and she’s a Grade I winner in her own right and has a good race record,” Brown said. “I can see a handful of runners who could win the race, but we’re looking forward to running. The only thing that might prevent us from running is the condition of the turf course. The turf will have to be firm enough for us to run.”
The other two stakes are sprints — the Woody Stephens for 3-year-olds and the True North for horses 3 and up.
When the Jaipur was taken off the turf on Friday, Reload, who was entered for main track only, ran in that race and will scratch from today’s True North.
Calidoscopio, a 10-year-old making just his second North American start since shipping north from Argentina, made a huge last-to-first move to catch front-runner Percussion in the Grade II Brooklyn on Friday.
Ruler On Ice, the 2011 Belmont Stakes winner, was fifth. He has just one win in 14 starts since his Belmont score.
Trainer Tom Albertrani nailed the exacta in the Jaipur, as Dogwood Stable’s Big Screen held off Live Oak Plantation’s Souper Speedy for the win.
But Big Screen was taken down for bearing out several times on his stablemate in the stretch.
“I was actually hoping for a dead heat,” Albertrani said. “Unfortunately, the one got taken down. I had one happy owner for a couple of minutes, and then vice versa.”
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin walked out of the shedrow to his car on Friday morning and pulled his iPad out of the trunk of his car while ignoring the incessant rain that was pelting his tablet.
What he wanted to show two reporters was a replay of the
Peter Pan, to prove that the Equibase chart belied what he thought was a very Belmont Stakes-worthy performance by his colt, Incognito.
McLaughlin said every point of call in the chart was accurate, but the replay told the true story. Incognito, who is averse to dirt and mud kicked in his face, was in last place as late as the eighth pole, but stormed up the rail to come within less than a length of third place.
What McLaughlin also liked, visible on the replay but not noted on the chart, was how Incognito was still running well past the wire and went past Freedom Child during the gallop-out. Incognito will get an extra three furlongs in the Belmont that weren’t available in the nine-furlong Peter Pan.
“If you just read the chart, it looks like he just ran even,” McLaughin said. “But he was last, taking a lot of mud in his face. At the three-eighths pole, he dropped over to the inside. At the eighth pole, he’s still last . . . flying on the rail, once he got the clean face. And he galloped out in front of the winner, who won by 13.
“We’ve always liked him for this race, because of the distance. We want the distance, we think.”
The Friends of Sanford Stud Farm will hold their sixth annual open house next Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., preceded by a Horse Tales and Cocktails fundraiser on Friday.
The farm on Route 30 in Amsterdam, which gained inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places this week, will have vendors, crafters, artisans, exhibits, a silent auction, 50-50 raffle and kids’ activities during the open house. Horses from Trinity Farms will be on the farm.
The Horse Tales and Cocktails event will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will include a dinner buffet, cash bar and tours of the facilities. There will also be a memorial plaque designation and a special ceremony celebrating the historic site designation.
Donation for Horse Tales and Cocktails is $35 for FSSF members and $40 for guests.
SHANGHAI BOBBY BACK
Shanghai Bobby, the 2-year-old Eclipse Award-winning colt owned by Starlight Racing, was deemed fully recovered from a pelvic stress fracture and was given the OK to return to light training this week.
He’s walking the shedrow at Todd Pletcher’s barn at the Oklahoma training track in Saratoga Springs.
Starlight co-managing partner Don Lucarelli of Duanesburg said that if all remains on schedule, Shanghai Bobby would get back to breezing in time to make a start at the Saratoga meet. The Grade I King’s Bishop on Travers Day is the target, then Starlight would like to get one more start before the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
“I visited him on Wednesday, and he looks good; he was trying to bite me,” Lucarelli said.
Shanghai Bobby won the Hopeful at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year, but was injured while finishing fifth to Orb in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.