Mo Donegal, Nest, We The People Among Workers For Belmont Stakes - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Mo Donegal, Nest, We The People Among Workers For Belmont Stakes

Peter Pan winner We the People

Saturday morning was a busy one for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who breezed a handful of his heavy hitters at Belmont Park, including Mo Donegal and Nest for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) June 11.

Mo Donegal, with Irad Ortiz Jr. up, and Nest, piloted by Jose Ortiz, went to the Belmont training track around 9:30 a.m. (ET) and went a half-mile over a fast track in :49.90. Pletcher caught the pair in splits of :24.80 for the quarter-mile before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven furlongs in 1:27.20.

“I thought it was good. I liked the way they finished and galloped out,” Pletcher said. “Those horses seem to be in good form. This was more of a maintenance work. They had a strong work last week with a big, long gallop out. This week we wanted just a maintenance type of work, which they were able to execute properly.”

Donegal Racing and Repole Stable's Mo Donegal, a son of Uncle Mo, arrives at the Belmont off a fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (G1) where he was ten wide at the top of the stretch and made a valiant run to finish only 3 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Rich Strike.

Nest, owned by Repole, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, is the lone filly in this year's Belmont coming off a runner-up to Secret Oath in the Kentucky Oaks (G1). A triumph from the daughter of Curlin would make Pletcher, who saddled Rags to Riches to beat the boys in the 2007 Belmont, the only trainer to win dual Triple Crown races with a filly.

We The People Sails Through Half-Mile Drill For Belmont

WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH and Siena Farm's We the People breezed a half-mile in :47.59 Saturday over the Belmont main track with trainer Rodolphe Brisset in the irons in preparation for the Belmont.

The bay son of Constitution made his way towards the backstretch of a fast Big Sandy in the company of a pony before breaking off on his own to start the four-furlong drill. NYRA clockers caught We the People marking off a quarter-mile in :24.20 as he continued to move strongly through the turn and into the stretch about three paths from the rail.

Brisset eased up on We the People a few strides before the wire, galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40.

“It was a little fast,” said Brisset as We the People cooled out around the barn. “The track with the moisture in it will carry you. He couldn't have done it any easier. He was just galloping. He repeated what we've been seeing the whole time here. It looked like he really enjoyed it to me. We've got to have a good week now.”

The work was the second over Big Sandy for We the People, who had his first drill going the same distance in :48.39 on May 27.

The $230,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase was an impressive winner of the Peter Pan (G3) on May 14 at Belmont, the local prep for the “Test of the Champion.”

We the People schooled in the paddock on Friday and Brisset said he will repeat the exercise again next week ahead of the Belmont.

“We'll monitor the weather and his weight and then we'll decide – I'm sure I'll school him at least one more time next week either in the morning or afternoon during the races,” said Brisset.

We the People enters the Belmont with a 3-for-4 record, his only loss a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1) where he rated in fifth and never fired after going five-wide in the turn. He has won his three starts by a combined 21 lengths, highlighted by his 10 1/4-length romp in the Peter Pan.

Skippylongstocking Breezes Five Furlongs

Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico, breezed five-eighths in 1:02.41 Saturday over Big Sandy in preparation for the Belmont.

NYRA clockers caught the graded-stakes placed colt working solo under Manny Franco through splits of :25.60, :37.80 and out in 1:15.80 over the fast main track.

Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr, who is looking for his first score in a Triple Crown race, said he was pleased with the effort.

“We're coming back in three weeks, so we weren't looking for much. We wanted a steady, long and easy breeze and that's what we got,” Joseph said.

Skippylongstocking, a $37,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, is by the stamina-influencing sire Exaggerator, who finished second in the 2016 Kentucky Derby ahead of a win in that year's Preakness Stakes.

The talented bay has appreciated added ground with his Beyer Speed Figures increasing in each of his last three starts, including an 88 for a nine-furlong optional-claiming win in March at Gulfstream; a 91 for a third-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial in April at Aqueduct; and a 94 last out for a fifth-place finish from the outermost post 9 in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico.

“He's going to need to improve again or he'll need some of the others to regress a bit for him to be competitive, but we're hoping he'll go over there and run the race of his life,” Joseph said.

Franco, who guided New York-bred Tiz the Law to victory in the 2020 Belmont Stakes, will pilot Skippylongstocking in the afternoon for the first time next Saturday.

Joseph said he is hopeful that Franco can work out a stalking trip.

“It seems that in the Belmont it's hard to make up too much ground. Most of the horses that run well are closer to the pace,” Joseph said. “We don't want to be too far back. So, hopefully he can lay a little bit closer without taking him too much out of his game.”

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