Thomas Targets Belmont Derby for Hard Love - Horse Racing News

Really hard Really like wins the Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Coach Jonathan Thomas did not get the prep race he originally had in thoughts for Robert LaPenta, Augustin Steady, and Madaket Stables’ Really hard Appreciate, but claimed he however plans on running the talented son of Kitten’s Joy in the $1 million Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational, 1st leg of the Turf Triple series, on July 10 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

Tricky Enjoy was entered in the Quality 2 Pennine Ridge Stakes on Could 29 but scratched when inclement weather pressured the celebration on to the primary monitor. Thomas went to Strategy B and ran Difficult Really like in a 9-furlong allowance optional boasting race from more mature horses on the turf in the Belmont Stakes Day finale on June 5.

Piloted by Manny Franco, Challenging Like tracked the speed from second, battled to the outside the house of pacesetter Desert Peace in the stretch push, and prevailed by a head.

“We felt like we experienced him all set for the Pennine Ridge,” Thomas explained. “It was a little bit of a gut punch having it occur off the turf, so we have been fortunate the allowance race was in the e book. We felt like we obtained a wonderful prep into him for the Belmont Derby. Based mostly off what we have viewed, it appears to be like like the further the improved. He is an effective moving horse, and his pedigree suggests the even further the greater. He need to recognize the added distance.”

Thomas is targeting a second Belmont Derby victory getting gained in 2018 with the flexible Catholic Boy, who proceeded to win the Grade 1 Runhappy Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race System in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. that yr.

“There are some similarities in his physique,” Thomas mentioned. “He’s a significant leggy colt and also a really authentic horse. He seems to demonstrate up each individual time. He’s a very little much more laid again in his disposition than Catholic Boy. But the largest variance is that I am almost selected he’s not the identical horse on the dust. He is a turf horse.”

Thomas stated he was delighted to see Burning Vivid notch a third life span victory in a 1 ¼-mile off-the-turf allowance optional claimer on May well 30.

Owned and bred by George Strawbridge, Jr.’s Augustin Steady, the son of Empire Maker, out of 2008 Champion Grass Mare Endlessly Alongside one another, won the party by 7 ¼ lengths, recording an 89 Beyer Velocity Figure.

Thomas did not rule out heading back to turf with Burning Vivid and mentioned the $150,000 Grand Couturier Stakes on July 5 at Belmont Park heading 1 ½ miles and the $500,000 Quality 1 United Nations on July 17 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. as choices.

Burning Bright’s lone start on grass was a properly-beaten tenth on debut heading 1 1/16 miles at Tampa Bay Downs last March.

“He breezed on the turf just before his past race and I genuinely favored what I noticed,” Thomas said. “His very first race on the grass was a toss-out. I have been searching ahead to obtaining him on the grass. The main thing is getting the option to extend out. The even further, the superior.”

Thomas also eyes a return to grass for fellow Augustin Stables homebred Evoking, who gained on debut by 4 ¼ lengths in an off-the-turf maiden exclusive weight going 6 furlongs on May well 29.

“We’ll hold our alternatives open up with Evoking,” Thomas reported. “She is likely heading to be better as soon as we get her on the grass. I was incredibly pleased with the hard work.”

Thomas mentioned McConnell Racing Stable’s War Terminator, a maiden winner in April at Aqueduct who experienced been pointing for Saturday’s $150,000 NYSSS Spectacular Bid, would get some time off pursuing a insignificant problem.

“We like the horse rather a little bit and the homeowners are extraordinary folks, but we need to have to back again off on him however,” Thomas explained.

Although War Terminator will be out of motion, Thomas will quickly welcome LaPenta’s New York-bred stakes winner Nicky the Vest back again to his stable. The son of second-crop sire Runhappy was a past-out winner of the Gander Stakes on February 15 at Aqueduct but was sidelined because of to a knee chip identified adhering to a workout in late March.

“The restoration is heading nicely,” mentioned Thomas. “They’ve obtained him performing a ton of aqua therapy. I hope to get him back again in a few months.”

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