09/15/2013 12:08PM

Belmont Park: Moreno, Close Hatches breeze for rich Parx races

Barbara D. Livingston
Moreno, seen training last month at Saratoga, will start in Saturday's Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby at Parx Racing.

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ELMONT, N.Y. – Moreno and Close Hatches, leading contenders for a pair of $1 million races at Parx next Saturday, both put in strong workouts Sunday over a fast Belmont Park main track.

Working minutes apart following the mid-morning renovation break, Moreno, beaten a nose by Will Take Charge in the $1 million Travers on Aug. 24, worked five furlongs in 59.82 seconds in preparation for his rematch with Will Take Charge in the Grade 2 Pennsylvania Derby.

Shortly thereafter, Close Hatches, unraced since winning the Grade 1 Mother Goose by 7 1/4 lengths here June 22, worked a half-mile in 46.90 in preparation for the Grade 1 Cotillion.

Moreno, with blinkers on and jockey Jose Ortiz up, went in fractions of 12.38, 24.50, and 36.06 and got his final quarter-mile in 23.76. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.50.

“I thought he worked great,” John Daley, the assistant to trainer Eric Guillot, said. “It was a good, strong five-eighths with a good gallop-out, and he did it with his ears pricked. He came out of it in great shape.”

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It was the only work Moreno will have between the Travers and the Pennsylvania Derby. Daley said Moreno, who shipped from Saratoga to Belmont on Sept. 3, has been galloping 1 1/2 miles to 1 3/4 miles daily.

“He’s getting a little more aggressive to be around; really, really strong,” Daley said. “He keeps putting on weight. Every time I think he looks great, a week later I think he looks even better.”

Daley said Moreno will ship to Parx the morning of the race.

In addition to Will Take Charge, who worked five furlongs in 1:00.89 at Saratoga on Friday, others expected to be entered Monday for the Pennsylvania Derby include Battier, Chief Havoc, Fury Kapkori, Java’s War, Romansh, Speak Logistics, and Transparent. Power Broker is possible.
On Sunday, Java’s War worked four furlongs in 48.30 over the Belmont main track.

Meanwhile, Close Hatches displayed her readiness for the Cotillion with a sharp work that saw her go in quarter-mile splits of 23.72 and 23.88. She galloped out five furlongs in 59.20 and six furlongs in 1:12.74 under exercise rider Rodolphe Brisset.

“She went off nice and easy and picked it up from there,” Brisset said. “The last eighth, I just opened my hands. The track is real fast.”

Close Hatches, trained by Bill Mott for Juddmonte Farms, missed the summer races after developing a temperature that knocked her out of the Coaching Club American Oaks. Mott did not want to run her in the Alabama Stakes at 1 1/4 miles without a race in two months. Sunday’s breeze was the fifth since Aug. 20 for Close Hatches.

“She seems like she’s had an opportunity to get enough work in her,” Mott said.

Others expected to be entered Monday for the Cotillion include Asiya, Carnival Court, Dancing Afleet, Flash Forward, My Happy Face, Seaneen Girl, Street Girl, Sweet Lulu, Tell a Great Story, and Unusual Way.

In other noteworthy works Sunday, Arlington Million winner Real Solution and Sword Dancer Invitational winner Big Blue Kitten went five-eighths in 1:02.23 in company over Belmont’s inner turf course. A triple set of orange traffic cones kept the turf works well off the inside part of the course.
“I was happy the way they were moving; it’s what I’m looking for,” trainer Chad Brown said.

Brown is pointing both to the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 28.

“We’re really pointing both of these horses to the Breeders’ Cup as well, so we need to be mindful of that and determine which gives us the best prep,” Brown said.

Brown said Alterite, the winner of Saturday’s Grade 1 Garden City, came out of the race well and is “probable” to run next in the Queen Elizabeth II at Keeneland on Oct. 12.