06/17/2013 3:02PM

Belmont Park notes: Verrazano on track for Haskell Invitational

David Owens/Equi-Photo
Verrazano won the Grade 3 Pegasus by 9 1/4 lengths Sunday and earned a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Though Sunday’s Pegasus Stakes became virtually a walkover for Verrazano once Itsmyluckyday was pulled up, trainer Todd Pletcher believes his 3-year-old got enough out of the race to set him up perfectly for a return trip to Monmouth Park for the Grade 1, $1 million Haskell Invitational Stakes on July 28.

Verrazano, rebounding from a 14th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby – his first career loss – waltzed to a front-running, 9 1/4-length victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 Pegasus. Under John Velazquez, Verrazano ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.72 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 96.

Verrazano got away with a first quarter-mile in 24.82 seconds, and shortly after Itsmyluckyday went to challenge him on the backstretch, that horse took an awkward step and was pulled up by jockey Mike Smith. After initial X-rays were negative, Itsmyluckyday was sent Monday to an equine clinic in New Jersey for further evaluation.

“It was an unfortunate situation, and it basically became a walkover at that point,” Pletcher said. “The thing that I liked was off a slow half-mile, he still went a mile and a sixteenth in 1:41 and change, which is pretty hard to do. He went the last five-sixteenths in 29 flat. You don’t see times like that pretty often unless it’s on the grass.”

Going into the race, Pletcher worried whether facing a talented rival like Itsmyluckyday might make Verrazano do more than he wanted for a prep.

“I thought we accomplished what we were hoping for,” said Pletcher, noting that Verrazano got a successful race over the track. “I think he did enough to set him up for [the Haskell]. One of my concerns was running against Itsmyluckyday, it would be too much. Certainly, it looked like he was back to his old self.”

Verrazano, who won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial Stakes and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby this year, vanned from Monmouth to Saratoga on Monday. Pletcher said he elected to send Verrazano to Saratoga because beginning next week, Pletcher himself will be headquartered at Saratoga for the summer.

Pletcher still will have plenty of action over the remaining four weeks at Belmont Park, including running Dreaming of Julia this Saturday as the probable odds-on favorite in the Grade 1 Mother Goose. Last Sunday, Dreaming of Julia breezed a half-mile in 49.07 seconds over the Belmont training track.

Pletcher may seek to run San Pablo in the Grade 2 Suburban on July 6 after his 3 1/2-length victory in last Friday’s $90,000 Criminal Type Stakes.

“He ran well enough the other day to deserve a chance to run in the Suburban if he’s ready to wheel back on relatively short rest,” Pletcher said.

San Pablo ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:41.14 and earned a 101 Beyer. If San Pablo doesn’t run in the Suburban, he could be a candidate for the Grade 2, $200,000 Monmouth Cup at Monmouth on July 28.

Pletcher said Notacatbutallama, winner of Saturday’s Grade 3 Hill Prince, would be pointed to the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 9, though he would like to find a race before then.

Emollient back to work

Emollient, winner of the Grade 1 Ashland in April, worked a half-mile in 50.71 seconds Monday over Belmont’s main track, her first breeze since she finished sixth as the favorite in the Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico on May 17.

“She’s starting to look good,” trainer Bill Mott said. “The breeze was a little slow this morning, but that was by design.”

Emollient will make her turf debut in the Grade 1, $350,000 American Oaks at Hollywood Park on July 13.