06/06/2013 12:29PM

Belmont Park: New and improved Irsaal tries Easy Goer

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Tom Keyser
Irsaal (right) has moved up his game since being gelded and racing on Lasix.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Irsaal was an easy winner of the second start of his career last October, but was pummeled in four subsequent starts through this February. His trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, believed he was a far better prospect than that, so he had Irsaal gelded, and began using Lasix.

Whether it was one of those factors, or both, Irsaal is finally headed in the right direction. He was second in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park on April 5, then was an impressive winner of a first-level allowance at Belmont Park on May 8 while earning the best Beyer Speed Figure of his career.

On Saturday at Belmont Park, the new-look Irsaal will try to take another step forward when he competes in the $150,000 Easy Goer, a listed stakes race that drew eight other 3-year-olds, including at least three – Always in a Tiz, Micromanage, and Power Broker – who at some point in recent weeks were under consideration for the Belmont Stakes.

[BELMONT STAKES: Live updates and video from Belmont Park]

The Easy Goer is at 1 1/16 miles. Irsaal’s May 8 win also was at 1 1/16 miles, and it was run on a muddy track, a situation he could encounter again Saturday.

“He did it very well. The horse who ran second,” McLaughlin said, referring to Midnight Taboo, “is running in the Belmont. He’s really come on from the gelding and Lasix.”

Micromanage returned from a layoff of more than five months to win a first-level allowance on a sloppy track at Monmouth Park on May 11.

“Second time back, we’re hoping he steps forward off that,” said his trainer, Todd Pletcher.

Pletcher also will send out Doherty, who has finished third in his last two starts, both allowance races in which Irsaal finished in front of him.

“We’re going to do something a little different this go-round, get him into the race a little more early,” Pletcher said.

Always in a Tiz is dropping into a softer spot after finishing ninth of 10 in the Wood Memorial. That was his first start with blinkers. They are being removed for the Easy Goer.

Power Broker, winner of the Grade 1 FrontRunner last fall at Santa Anita, is working his way back to graded stakes company. He was ambitiously placed in his first start this year, when he competed in the Santa Anita Derby following a five-month layoff, but he then dipped into a first-level allowance at Churchill Downs on May 10 and easily won.

Wabbajack also looks dangerous if he runs back to his stylish maiden win over this track last time out April 28.

Eton Blue, New Line, and Puget Sound complete the line-up.