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Bernardini shifts target to Withers
OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Deputy Glitters will give Tom Albertrani his first Kentucky Derby starter, but don't be surprised if another horse turns out to be the best 3-year-old in his barn by year's end.
Limited to just two starts by injuries and ailments, Bernardini will make his stakes debut in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Bernardini completed preparations for the one-mile Withers on Wednesday by drilling five furlongs in 59.82 seconds over Belmont's main track. It was the fastest of 18 works at the distance.
Bernardini is a son of Grade 1 winners A.P. Indy and Cara Rafaela, bred and owned by Darley Stable. He finished fourth behind Exclusive Quality in his debut on Jan. 7, then won a one-mile maiden race by 7 3/4 lengths on March 4.
In between he developed a lung infection and missed some time. Following the maiden win, Bernardini developed a cough, forcing him to miss a first-level allowance race. He was then entered in a similar allowance race on April 8, but had to be scratched the morning of that race with a bruised foot.
"The way the track was that day, maybe it was a blessing in disguise we didn't lead him over there anyway,'' said Albertrani, referring to the sloppy track on Wood Day.
Albertrani was pointing Bernardini to an allowance race on Friday, but when informed by the racing office that the Withers was coming up light in numbers, he altered course.
"With the Withers coming up pretty light we thought we'd take our chances in there,'' he said.
As of Wednesday, the only other confirmed starters for the Withers were Chatain, Doc Cheney, and Luxembourg. Laptop Computer is possible.
Saturday's card also features the Grade 3, $100,000 Beaugay for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles on the turf. Naissance Royale, winner of the Grade 2 Lake Placid Handicap at Saratoga last summer, heads the group. Others expected to run are Brunilda, Laurafina, Pommes Frites, Asti, Omeya, and Thetactics Ofdance. Ready's Gal and Samsincharge are possible.
Discreet Cat aimed at Dwyer
Discreet Cat, the undefeated Godolphin Racing-owned 3-year-old, arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday and cleared quarantine Tuesday morning. He will shortly begin training with his first goal being the $150,000 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont on July 4.
Despite Discreet Cat's undefeated record, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum opted to skip the Kentucky Derby and the entire Triple Crown with the horse and point to the second half of the year.
"The boss probably did the right thing by skipping the Derby,'' said Rick Mettee, who is the trainer overseeing Godolphin's New York string. "He's a May 1st foal; to go into that race off three races is hard to do. He didn't get probably as much as we thought he would out of the UAE Derby. He almost won it a little too easy.''
Mettee called the Dwyer "a realistic goal,'' and a race that could move Discreet Cat forward to races such as the Jim Dandy or Haskell and Travers.
On second thought, Arroyo's staying
Norberto Arroyo Jr., who on April 13 announced that he would be riding at Delaware Park this summer, has changed his mind and will be staying in New York. Arroyo said he would ride at Delaware on Mondays and Tuesdays, dark days in New York.
Arroyo changed his mind because of the success he has had in New York this year. He was the fifth-leading rider at the inner-track meet and is tied for second during the main-track meeting. His seven stakes wins are the most of any rider on the New York Racing Association circuit in 2006.
Chavez, Bravo back in action
Jockeys Jorge Chavez and Joe Bravo, both sidelined since early January due to injury, returned to race-riding this week. Both riders will spend the next few weeks riding in New York before spending the summer at Monmouth Park.
Bravo returned to action on Wednesday at Atlantic City Racecourse, riding Letter Perfect to victory in a maiden race. Bravo has been out since Jan. 4 when he suffered two fractured vertebrae in his back in a spill on opening day at Gulfstream Park.
Chavez, who has been sidelined since Jan. 2 when he broke his collarbone in a spill on closing day at Calder, was scheduled to ride two horses on Thursday at Aqueduct. He was named on one horse Friday.
Monmouth opens for weekend racing only on May 13. The meet gets into full swing beginning May 27.
Funny Cide works for Kings Point
Funny Cide, the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, worked five furlongs in 1:00.08 Wednesday morning in preparation for a start in Sunday's $65,000 Kings Point Handicap at Aqueduct.
Exercise rider Simon Harris was aboard for the move, the second fastest of 18 at the distance.
"He was strong today,'' Harris said. "Last week, he was more relaxed. He's feeling good; he's doing awesome."
Also working for the Kings Point on Wednesday was Gold and Roses, who went four furlongs in 49.12 seconds over Belmont's main track. Trainer Tom Bush confirmed Gold and Roses would run in the nine-furlong Kings Point. Gold and Roses is coming off a 4 1/2-length win in the Smart Coupons on April 6.
"The Kings Point comes up a little closer to his last race than I would like, but he's had some nice spaces between his races,'' Bush said. "The mile and an eighth might be his Achilles' heel. Funny Cide's last race was very good, so this will be the toughest competition Gold and Roses has faced at the distance.''
Others expected to run in the Kings Point are Win With Beck, Spite the Devil, Delta Sea, Lord Langfuhr, and Mike's Greenfields.
Galloping Grocer, who is nominated to the Kings Point, worked four furlongs in 46.92 seconds Wednesday, the fastest of 64 drills at the distance. Galloping Grocer is expected to skip the race for a spot at Belmont Park.
Sunday, closing day at Aqueduct, will also include the two divisions of the New York Stallion Stakes that were canceled last Sunday when the jockeys refused to ride the last six races on the card.
* Trainer Bruce Levine was fined $500 for failure to have foal papers on file, which necessitated the late scratch of Potri Cacho from Wednesday's third race.
* The racing office will take double entries on Saturday for the first two cards at Belmont.