09/10/2011 12:08PM

Belmont: Inherit the Gold working towards comeback in Empire Classic

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Barbara D. Livingston
Inherit the Gold, recovering from ankle surgery, has six weeks to get ready for the Empire Classic at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Inherit the Gold’s summer vacation is over. The 5-year-old Inherit the Gold went back into training recently and his connections are targeting next month’s $200,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park and a possible run at the New York-bred horse of the year title.

Inherit the Gold had a five-race winning streak that began last December and ran through the Grade 3 Excelsior Handicap at Aqueduct in April. Along the way, he also won an overnight stakes and the Kings Point. The streak came to an end when he finished seventh, beaten only 4 1/2 lengths in the $1 million Charles Town Classic two weeks after the Excelsior. In his most recent start, Inherit the Gold finished third to 2010 Belmont Stakes winner Drosselmeyer in a 1 1/4-mile overnight stakes at Belmont on May 15.

Trainer and part-owner James Hooper gave Inherit the Gold a break, but shortly after putting him back in training in late June a chip in an ankle was discovered. Dr. Bill Barnes of Saratoga Equine Hospital removed the chip in early July.

Following some time off on the farm, where Hooper’s wife Susanne took care of the gelding, Inherit the Gold returned to the track. After a week or so of jogging over the Clare Court training track in Saratoga, Inherit the Gold began jogging over the Oklahoma track on Friday. He will begin galloping on Sunday and Hooper is hoping that six weeks is enough time to have the gelding ready for the Empire Classic.

“He looks unbelievable, we’re going to head to the Empire Classic and try to get New York-bred horse of the year," Hooper said. “He’s not a breeze horse, that’s going to challenge me a little bit, but we’ll see if we can make it. If not, we’ll have a fresh horse for the winter."