05/21/2012 4:07PM

Belmont: Awesome Maria dazzles in slop

Email
Tom Keyser
Awesome Maria, shown winning the Rampart at Gulfstream Park, turned in a fast five-furlong workout Monday in preparation for next Monday's Ogden Phipps.

Heavy showers turned Belmont’s training track into a sealed, sloppy mess by 9:30 a.m. Monday. But that didn’t prevent Awesome Maria from turning in a sensational five-furlong workout in 59.23 seconds in preparation for next Monday’s Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap.

Under regular rider John Velazquez, Awesome Maria worked in splits of 12.38 seconds, 23.80, 34.85, and still got her last quarter in 24.38. She proceeded to gallop out six furlongs in 1:12.68.

“She acts like she loved it out there,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who had moved the work up from Tuesday. “Johnny thought she worked great. I thought she worked great. She got over the ground well.”

Awesome Maria won her second start, a seven-furlong maiden race at Saratoga, by 8 1/4 lengths in her only race run over a sloppy track. She was then trained by Stanley Hough.

Awesome Maria has won six consecutive races, including last year’s Phipps by three lengths. She has already posted repeat victories in the Sabin and Rampart handicaps at Gulfstream.

Earlier in the morning, before the rains came, It’s Tricky, who figures to be Awesome Maria’s main rival in the Phipps, worked four furlongs in 49.42 seconds over a fast track.

Weights for the Phipps, run at 1 1/16 miles, will be released Wednesday. Others expected to run are Juanita and Pachattack. Possibles include Afleeting Lady, Nefertini, and She’s All In.

Zagora eyes Diana repeat

Zagora bounced back from her fifth-place finish in the Jenny Wiley Stakes at Keeneland with a solid 1 1/4-length score in Saturday’s Grade 3 Gallorette Handicap at Pimlico.

Zagora has now won three of her last four starts and will be pointed to the Grade 1, $600,000 Diana at Saratoga on July 28. Zagora won the Diana last year.

“I thought she ran really well. I was really happy with her effort,” trainer Chad Brown said. “It looked to me like she’s back on top of her game. She caught a paceless race at Keeneland.”

Brown said Zagora would have one prep between now and the Diana, but he wasn’t sure when or where that would be.

At Monmouth on Saturday, Brown won the Elkwood Stakes with Corporate Jungle, who ran a mile in 1:32.70 yet was only assigned a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. He has now won three straight races.

Brown said the $500,000 Fourstardave at Saratoga on Aug. 11 is the mid-summer goal with one race, possibly, the Grade 3 Poker on July 4 at Belmont, as a possible prep.

Assistant to Romans fined

Scott Everett, the assistant to trainer Dale Romans, was fined $5,000 by the stewards for two rules violations. According to a ruling by the New York State Racing and Wagering Board, Everett did not reveal that he was part owner of the horse Cinnamon Beach, who has run six times in New York since Dec. 11. He was a horse that Everett himself formerly trained. Everett also failed to notify the track veterinarian that Cinnamon Beach had been nerve blocked, a legal procedure when it is done below the fetlock, but one that has to be reported.