05/31/2017 1:10PM

Hill likes Senior Investment's closing kick

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Barbara D. Livingston
Senior Investment (far left) rallied from last to finish third in the Preakness>

ELMONT, N.Y. – While the focus of the Preakness Stakes was rightfully on the stretch duel between Cloud Computing and Classic Empire – as well as the disappointing finish by Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming – the performance of third-place finisher Senior Investment may have gotten overlooked.

Last of 10 approaching the top of the stretch, Senior Investment was spun widest of all by Channing Hill turning for home and closed very well to finish within 4 3/4 lengths of Cloud Computing.

That effort combined with his victory in what has become a key race in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland makes Senior Investment an intriguing player in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes here on June 10.

“That horse can run,” said Jeff Odintz, the Belmont Park-based assistant to trainer Ken McPeek. “Just got to get lucky.”

On a gray, dreary Wednesday morning at Belmont Park, Senior Investment worked a half-mile in 49.22 seconds, per Daily Racing Form clocker Mike Welsch. He went his opening quarter-mile in 23.94 seconds and he galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.62, according to Welsch. The jockey Dylan Davis was aboard for the move, which was overseen by Odintz because McPeek is in England preparing Daddy’s Lil Darling for Friday’s Epsom Oaks.

“I thought he just did it on his own like I expected him to do,” said Odintz, a former trainer on this circuit. “Dylan never moved on him.”

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Some light rain fell Wednesday morning as Senior Investment came on the track at 5:45 a.m. After backing up to the seven-furlong pole, Senior Investment broke into his work at the half-mile pole and displayed a fluid stride while never really being asked by Davis.

“He did everything very comfortable,” Davis said afterward. “This was my first time sitting on him. He’s got a nice stride. The track’s on the deep side, but he handled everything well; very classy horse. I feel like he can handle the mile and a half.”

Channing Hill will ride Senior Investment in the Belmont Stakes. It will be Hill’s first mount in the Belmont after making his debut this year in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 17th aboard Fast and Accurate, and Preakness.

Hill has ridden Senior Investment in his last four starts, beginning with an allowance win at Oaklawn Park in February.

“The quality of horses I’m riding is good, but when you get a horse like this it’s like a different feel,” Hill said Wednesday from Kentucky. “When I won on him at Oaklawn he really impressed me. I felt like I was going to win the race by about a length or length and a half, but when I tipped out he won by [three]. That was really impressive.”

Hill then rode Senior Investment in the Louisiana Derby, where he finished sixth, beaten 5 3/4 lengths by the winner, Girvin. He had an inside trip most of the way, and Hill felt Senior Investment could have finished second or third if he could have gotten the horse to the outside.

Senior Investment wheeled back in two weeks in the Lexington and rallied from well off the pace to win the race by a head over favored West Coast. The Lexington proved to be a productive race as West Coast came back to win an allowance race at Santa Anita; third-place finisher No Dozing ran second in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile; and seventh-place finisher Souper Tapit won the Grade 3 Marine at Woodbine.

Hill said that Lookin At Lee came outside of Senior Investment at the three-eighths pole and that seemed to startle his horse. When Hill got Senior Investment going turning for home, he kicked in and beat Lookin At Lee by a half-length for third.

“In the Preakness I thought he’d run 1-2-3 and he ran as well as I thought he would,” Hill said.

The pace in the Belmont doesn’t figure to be quite as quick as it was in the Preakness, but there are speed types in the field such as Classic Empire, True Timber, and Meantime.

“I’d like that pace so they’ll be coming back to me, but even if he’s close and they go [a half in 49] I believe in the turn of foot that he has and that closing stride no matter what,” Hill said.

Senior Investment is expected to have one more workout, presumably next Tuesday, Odintz said.

◗ Paco Lopez will ride longshot True Timber in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. Lopez rode True Timber to a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial.

◗ The flight bringing the Japanese-based Epicharis to New York was delayed 10 hours due to mechanical issues. The colt was expected to arrive in New York Thursday afternoon.

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch

 

POSSIBLE BELMONT STAKES CONTENDERS
HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY LAST RACE/FINISH
Classic Empire  Mark Casse Julien Leparoux Preakness, 2nd
Conquest Mo Money Miguel Hernandez undecided Preakness, 7th
Epicharis Kiyoshi Hagiwara Christophe Lemaire UAE Derby, 2nd
Gormley John Shirreffs Victor Espinoza Ky. Derby, 9th
Irish War Cry Graham Motion Rajiv Maragh Ky. Derby, 10th
J Boys Echo Dale Romans undecided Ky. Derby, 15th
Lookin At Lee Steve Asmussen Irad Ortiz, Jr. Preakness, 4th
Meantime Brian Lynch Mike Smith Peter Pan, 2nd
Multiplier Brendan Walsh Joel Rosario Preakness, 6th
Patch Todd Pletcher John Velazquez Ky. Derby, 14th
Senior Investment Kenny McPeek Channing Hill Preakness, 3rd
Tapwrit Todd Pletcher Jose Ortiz Ky. Derby, 6th
True Timber Kiaran McLaughlin Paco Lopez Sir Barton, 3rd
Twisted Tom Chad Brown Javier Castellano Tesio, 1st