It was a busy Saturday on the dirt training track at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., with 314 horses on the work tab led by 12 from the stable of trainer Rudy Rodriguez, including multiple stakes winner Dream Bigger and last-out Busher Invitational champ Water White.
Rodriguez and his staff of more than 30 workers oversee the conditioning of 65 horses across two barns on the Belmont backstretch. The veteran conditioner said his team is working hard to keep the horses safe and sound while following the protocols laid out by NYRA’s Preparedness and Response Plan Committee, comprised of NYRA staff members as well as representatives from the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (NYTHA) and the New York Race Track Chaplaincy of America (NYRTCA).
“We have two barns so we try to keep the horses and staff spread out. We keep everything very clean, follow the guidelines and wash our hands and equipment as much as possible,” said Rodriguez. “You have to keep the horses training and healthy. We’re doing the best we can with the situation. The horses have to keep moving. They’re used to this routine and they’re bred to run. If you leave them in the stall, they’ll be kicking the walls.”
Both Dream Bigger and Water White breezed a half-mile in 51.93 seconds on Saturday on the Belmont training track.
“They both went nice and easy. We had to a little something to keep them fit,” said Rodriguez.
Repole Stable’s Dream Bigger, a grey son of Mission Impazible bred in the Empire State by Sequel New York, Twin Creeks Racing and Pamela Zielinski, boasts a record of 7-3-3-1. His trio of stakes wins includes scores in the Breeders’ Futurity at Finger Lakes and the Notebook and Damon Runyon at Aqueduct Racetrack.
“He always showed a lot of talent. We’ve been beaten by a couple of nice horses, but he’s still learning,” said Rodriguez. “In the stretch, he still doesn’t want to change leads. Hopefully, as he matures a little bit, that will change with his mentality. I really have to thank Mike Repole for giving us the opportunity to train this kind of horse.”
Last out, Dream Bigger returned from a layoff off a third-place finish in the Rego Park and went gate-to-wire under Junior Alvarado for an impressive 7 3/4-length score in the Damon Runyon.
“Freshening him up and giving him a nice eight weeks seemed to do the trick,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said he plans to keep Dream Bigger competing in New York-bred stakes events for the time being.
“There’s a lot of money in New York-bred races so we’ll try and keep him there, but if he keeps improving we can take a chance,” said Rodriguez. “He’s never finished worse than third and he always tries hard. We haven’t had the chance to stretch him out to a mile yet.”
E.V. Racing Stable’s Water White captured a dramatic renewal of the Busher Invitational last out when collaring Kansas Kis in the final stride to win by a nose.
Bred in Kentucky by Richard Forbush, the Conveyance grey graduated in November at Aqueduct before a trio of stakes efforts when fifth in the Grade 2 Demoiselle and second in the Busanda ahead of the Busher effort.
Rodriguez said the sizable filly is maturing rapidly.
“She looks like she’s growing,” said Rodriguez. “She’s put some weight on. It’s very encouraging to see the way she’s coming around.”
With the Kentucky Oaks now moved to September, Rodriguez said he is hoping the talented sophomore will continue to blossom.
“Let’s hope so,” said Rodriguez. “Right now she’s carrying her flesh very good. She’s a big, strong filly.”
Notables on the Belmont Park work tab
There were a number of notable horses on the Belmont Park work tab on Saturday morning led by multiple Grade 1-winning millionaire Mind Control, who went a sharp half-mile in 48.01 seconds.
Trained by Gregg Sacco for Red Oak Stable and Madaket Stables, the dual Grade 1-winner on the NYRA circuit continues to train forwardly following his rallying score in the Grade 3, $200,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Mind Control’s Grade 1 scores both came at Saratoga where he captured the Hopeful as a juvenile and the H. Allen Jerkens in August.
Cofactor worked a half-mile in 49.72 for trainer Kelly Breen. The grey daughter of The Factor won the Warrior’s Reward Smart Halo in November at Laurel Park and was expected to be among the favorites in the Cicada originally slated for March 21 at the Big A.
Chester and Mary Broman’s multiple stakes-winning millionaire Mr. Buff worked a half-mile in 50.33. Trained by John Kimmel, the 6-year-old New York-bred son of Friend or Foe is in the midst of a three-race win streak with scores in the Alex M. Robb, Jazil and Haynesfield all at the Big A.
Southern Equine Stable’s Sixto, an impressive maiden winner on January 30 at the Big A for trainer Eric Guillot, worked a half-mile in 50 flat. The Kentucky-bred Curlin colt was ninth last out in the Grade 3 Gotham.
Noda Brothers’ T Loves a Fight, winner of the 2017 Mike Lee, breezed four furlongs in 51.94. The 6-year-old New York-bred boasts a career record of 38-11-6-4 with purse earnings of $575,634.
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