Belmont Stakes: National Treasure, Red Route One Both Breeze Monday - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Belmont Stakes: National Treasure, Red Route One Both Breeze Monday

Gun Runner colt Red Route One drills at Belmont on May 29

Grade 1 Preakness winner National Treasure and Winchell Thoroughbreds' Kentucky homebred Red Route One put together their final serious preparations for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes with breezes Monday over the Belmont Park main track.

Under sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, National Treasure was amongst the first horses to visit the track following the renovation break. With exercise rider Erick Garcia aboard, the son of Quality Road went five furlongs in 59.55 seconds over the fast main track before galloping out six furlongs in 1:11.20 and seven furlongs in 1:25.20.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, National Treasure has now worked twice over Big Sandy after breezing a half-mile in 50.62 seconds on May 30.

Baffert's chief assistant Jimmy Barnes was on hand for the work and expressed satisfaction with the move.

“He worked very well this morning,” Barnes said. “It's a big track and you can find yourself lost out there. Erick did an excellent job working him and now we're just waiting for the race.”

Owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan, National Treasure was fourth in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby prior to his Preakness conquest.

A debut maiden winner in September at Del Mar, National Treasure finished a respective second and third in the American Pharoah at Santa Anita and Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland – both Grade 1 events. He was a $500,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale and is out of the Medaglia d'Oro mare Treasure.

Red Route One posted a half-mile work in 50.20 seconds Monday over Belmont Park's dirt training track.

Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, the chestnut son of Gun Runner stepped onto the track just after the first renovation break and was walked down part of the stretch before turning back the other way and making his way to the backstretch to begin his exercise. He completed the work under sunny skies with temperatures in the low 60s.

“I thought he went beautiful,” said Toby Sheets, Asmussen's Belmont-based assistant. “It was nice and fluid and he came back with good energy. I'm very happy with him. We wanted to be out on the track before it got really busy.”

It was the second work Red Route One has posted at Belmont since finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 20 at Pimlico Race Course. He logged a similar half-mile breeze in 50.85 over the Belmont main track on May 29.

Sheets said he has been pleased with the way Red Route One has come along over the past two weeks.

“He's doing everything right and I have no complaints,” Sheets said.

In the Preakness, Red Route One rated in sixth, six lengths off the moderate pace set by returning rival National Treasure and improved to fourth position by the three-quarters call, but could not reel in the runaway pair of Blazing Sevens and National Treasure as they battled down the stretch to the wire. Red Route One finished 4 3/4 lengths back of the victorious National Treasure, who completed the 1 3/16 miles in a final time of 1:55.12.

Red Route One entered the Preakness from a narrow victory over fellow Belmont Stakes hopeful Tapit Shoes in the nine-furlong Bath House Row on April 22 at Oaklawn Park. He finished second in both the Grade 3 Southwest and Grade 2 Rebel earlier this year at the Hot Springs oval and earned a Grade 1 placing when third in the Breeders' Futurity in October at Keeneland.

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