06/22/2012 1:34PM

Belmont Park: Brigand stands out in Mike Lee - if he runs

Barbara D. Livingston
Brigand would be a heavy favorite in Sunday’s $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though he has only a maiden win to his credit, Brigand would appear to be a standout against six rivals in Sunday’s $125,000 Mike Lee Stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds at Belmont Park.

However, Bob Baffert, trainer of Brigand, is considering bypassing the Mike Lee in favor of a start in next Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Dwyer Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race that is not coming up particularly strong.

Brigand, a $925,000 2-year-old in training purchase, has yet to run in a race restricted to New York-breds. He is coming off a second-place finish to the New York-bred The Lumber Guy in the Grade 2 Jerome at Aqueduct on April 21, a race in which Brigand lost a hind shoe and suffered a foot injury that forced him to miss a couple of weeks of training.

He has since caught up on his conditioning and worked a strong five furlongs in 58.66 seconds Monday morning at Belmont.

“He’s really improved, he’s getting better and better, he’s a pretty nice horse,” said Baffert, who trains Brigand for Kaleem Shah. “I didn’t buy him to run in the Mike Lee. I bought him to run in the Dwyer. We’ll look at this race and see what our options are.”

If Brigand does not run, the race figures to be a battle between the Flying Zee Racing Stables coupled-entry of The Prize Fighter and Night Maneuver against the Richard Dutrow Jr.-trained uncoupled entry of Willy Beamin and Swag Daddy.

Willy Beamin, whom Dutrow claimed for $25,000 in March, has won two straight, including a second-level allowance race here Wednesday.

“He’s run big three times in a row,” Dutrow said. “I don’t know how good he’s liable to get. It looks like he’s got a good enough chance in the New York-bred race. If he repeats, I’m sure he’ll pick up a check.”

The Prize Fighter is coming off a first-level allowance win here May 12 for trainer Phil Serpe. Night Maneuver, who won three straight races, including the Bertram Bongard here last October, is making his first start in seven months. Trainer Carlos Martin said Night Maneuver had surgery to remove a chip out of a knee since his last start.

Quiet Favorite completes the field.

Sacred Success tops Bouwerie

The decision by the connections of Wildcat’s Smile to run in Saturday’s Grade 1 Mother Goose leaves Sacred Success the horse to beat in the $125,000 Bouwerie for New York-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Sacred Success, a daughter of Officer trained by Dutrow, has won 3 of 5 starts and is coming off a strong 6 1/4-length allowance win May 10.

Though she has won all of her races on the front end, Dutrow does not see her as a need-the-lead type and likes the fact Sacred Success is drawn outside of the speed horses in the field.

“She does not need the lead in order to win and she’s got a great post where we’ll be able to decide when we need to move,” Dutrow said. “I think the advantage goes to our filly because of our post and how good she’s doing.”

Javier Castellano, who will ride Sacred Success, guided the filly through a three-furlong workout in 37.43 seconds Friday morning at Aqueduct.

Beautiful But Blue won three straight on dirt before trying the turf and finishing fifth. Trainer Tom Bush said he ran her on the turf because he couldn’t find a suitable dirt race. Beautiful But Blue is coupled with Newbie.

Harbor Mist, Lemon Splendor, and Shesabronxbomber are others in with a chance. Shesabronxbomber was cross-entered in a turf allowance at Arlington on Saturday.