06/01/2009 12:00AM

Lukas eyes a fifth Belmont with longshots

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Wayne Lukas (left) and Flying Private at Pimlico, where he finished fourth with trouble.

ELMONT, N.Y. - After a three-year hiatus, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas is back in the Belmont Stakes with two horses who figure to be overlooked by the betting public. But as history has demonstrated, dismiss Lukas at your own peril.

Lukas is a four-time winner of the Belmont, his last victory in this classic coming in 2000 with 18-1 shot Commendable, who finished 17th of 19 in the Kentucky Derby. Lukas's four runners in this race since have fared no better than fifth.

Many will project a similar fate for Flying Private and Luv Gov, who each has won just a maiden race from a combined 23 starts. Flying Private will join Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird as the only two horses to run in all three legs of this year's Triple Crown.

Flying Private, a son of Fusaichi Pegasus, finished last in the Derby, but bounced back with a fourth-place finish in the Preakness, beaten four lengths by Rachel Alexandra. The way Lukas saw it, Flying Private "was impeded four lengths" in Baltimore.

Racing near the back of the pack early on, Flying Private launched his bid at the same time that Mine That Bird moved under Mike Smith. Lukas maintains that Mine That Bird bumped with Flying Private between the five-sixteenths and quarter pole and beat him to the same hole. While Mine That Bird then switched to the outside for the stretch drive, Flying Private was in the two path and did continue on, though not at the same rate of speed as Mine That Bird.

"He and Mine that Bird went for the same hole twice and they happened to bump," Lukas said Monday morning at Belmont while holding the shank of a grazing Flying Private. "This is a leggy, long-striding, powerful horse. He's not nifty enough to take a couple of hits like that and be able to recover."

Lukas said Flying Private came out of the race in good order and he feels both he and Luv Gov - who finished eighth in the Preakness - will like the "deeper, sandier track" here.

Flying Private and Luv Gov both vanned from Churchill Downs and arrived here Sunday afternoon. Both horses jogged on the main track early Monday morning and may blow out through the lane on Wednesday.

"Their energy level was good today," Lukas said. "I thought they might be a little flat from the trip, but that wasn't the case."

Quality Road has week of training

Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner, galloped once around Belmont Park's spacious oval on Monday morning, completing what is his first hiccup-free week of training in more than a month.

Forced to miss the Triple Crown series because of a quarter crack on his right front hoof, Quality Road received a new patch last week and was equipped with a Z bar shoe, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens. Until Sunday, Quality Road had trained on the Belmont training track and one morning in the barn of Allen Jerkens - Jimmy's father - which is used as a galloping barn in the winter.

Jerkens said while Quality Road has the Z bar shoe, the area where the quarter is healing is not covered by a shoe.

"He's not quite as smooth as he would be if he had a regular shoe, but he's getting used to it," Jerkens said. "He's getting better every day."

Quality Road could return to the work tab this weekend, but Jerkens wouldn't speculate on when the horse could return to the races.

Mr. Fantasy to skip Woody Stephens

Mr. Fantasy, the Withers Stakes winner who was scratched out of the May 25 Metropolitan Handicap because of a temperature, has not recovered sufficiently to make Saturday's Grade 2, $250,000 Woody Stephens Stakes.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he hopes to get Mr. Fantasy to the Mike Lee for New York-breds here on June 21.

"We're in a bit of a holding pattern with the temperature and all. We just missed too many days," said McLaughlin, who noted that Mr. Fantasy returned to galloping on Saturday. "The Mike Lee will be the next goal."

The Mike Lee, run at seven furlongs, is the first leg of the Big Apple Triple, a series of three New York-bred races that offers a $250,000 bonus to the connections of a horse who wins the Mike Lee, the New York Derby at Finger Lakes and the Albany at Saratoga. Mr. Fantasy's brother, Tin Cup Chalice, became the first horse to sweep the series last year.

Without Mr. Fantasy, the Mike Lee field is expected to include Hello Broadway, Hull, Munnings, Regal Ransom, This Ones for Phil, and possibly Everyday Heroes.

Seventh Street joins Phipps probables

Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing plans to run a formidable entry of Music Note and Seventh Street in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps on June 13, assistant trainer Rick Mettee said.

Already a target for Music Note, the Phipps is now on the agenda for Seventh Street, who was also under consideration for the Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs the same day.

"It's a nine-furlong race down there, and she's never been further than a mile and a sixteenth," Mettee said regarding Seventh Street. "At the moment, both fillies will run here."

Seventh Street turned in her second consecutive sharp work over Belmont's main track on Monday, going five furlongs in 59.32 seconds around 5:45 a.m. Monday morning. She got her last quarter in 23.21 seconds.

"She really finished up good," Mettee said. "It'll be interesting to see how she runs here."

Seventh Street has won 4 of 6 starts, including the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. Music Note, who is a three-time Grade 1 winner over Belmont's main track, has not run since finishing third to Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Mohammed has transferred Nassau County Stakes winner Flashing from his Darley operation to Godolphin, meaning her training will now be overseen by Mettee. On Monday, Flashing worked five furlongs in 1:01.10. She is headed to the Grade 1 Mother Goose on June 27, and will run whether Rachel Alexandra is in the race or not, Mettee said.

Brooklyn tops Friday card

Delosvientos will attempt to rebound from a last-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in the Nasty and Bold Stakes here when he seeks a repeat victory in Friday's Grade 2, $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap.

Delosvientos is 4 for 5 at the Brooklyn distance of 1 1/2 miles. His lone loss came in the May 7 Nasty and Bold, which was his first start since Dec. 31 and run over a sloppy track. He was ridden by Kendry Castillo that day, and David Colon, the foreman for owner-trainer Giuseppe Iadisernia, felt the jockey's unfamiliarity with Belmont Park compromised his horse.

In the Brooklyn, Delosvientos will be reunited with Eibar Coa, who was aboard for last year's Brooklyn.

Trainer Tom Albertrani has entered Ea and Barrier Reef in the Brooklyn, but named Ramon Dominguez on both, meaning only one may run. He wants to see both train this week before making that determination.

Nite Light, fifth in last year's Brooklyn, and Alcomo, beaten a neck in the Nasty and Bold, are other logical contenders.

Also on Friday's card is the Grade 3, $100,000 Hill Prince Stakes for 3-year-olds at one mile on turf. Affirmatif, Conservative, and Lime Rickey headline that field.

Asiatic Boy targets Stephen Foster

Asiatic Boy, one of the top international stars of the past two years, has joined Kiaran McLaughlin's barn at Belmont Park and will make his first United States start on June 13 in the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, McLaughlin said Monday.

"We've had him since the Dubai World Cup," McLaughlin said. "We're happy to have him. He's been training fabulous. He's doing really well."

Asiatic Boy, previously trained by Michael de Kock, is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalid al-Maktoum, a cousin of Sheikh Mohammed, the ruler of Dubai. "I trained for the owner many years ago when I was in Dubai," McLaughlin said.

Alan Garcia will ride Asiatic Boy. Although he disappointed in this year's Dubai World Cup, Asiatic Boy finished second in the 2008 World Cup to Curlin.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman