Updated on 09/18/2011 12:10AM

McLaughlin wants Jazil closer to pace

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Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was forced to postpone a scheduled work for Jazil because of rain.

ELMONT, N.Y. - The rain that pelted Long Island Friday night and Saturday morning forced trainer Kiaran McLaughlin to postpone a scheduled work for his talented 3-year-old Jazil. It did not, however, dampen the trainer's enthusiasm for running the horse in Saturday's $1 million .

Though Jazil has just 1 win in 7 career starts, his pedigree suggests to McLaughlin that the horse will relish the 1 1/2-mile distance of the Belmont, the third leg of Thoroughbred racing's Triple Crown. Jazil, a son of Seeking the Gold, comes off a second-place finish in the Wood Memorial and a dead heat for fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

"I feel pretty confident," said McLaughlin, who trains Jazil for Sheikh Hamdan al-Maktoum's Shadwell Stable, "as confident as any leg of any Triple Crown race that I've been in."

McLaughlin finished second in the 2005 Kentucky Derby with longshot Closing Argument, who finished sixth in the Preakness. McLaughlin also saddled Like Now to a sixth-place finish in last month's Preakness Stakes.

Following the Derby, McLaughlin decided to keep Jazil out of the Preakness and focus on the Belmont. McLaughlin felt the five weeks between races would do Jazil good and that his running style would not fit the speed-favoring Pimlico strip.

Jazil is a stone-cold closer. He rallied from 20 lengths back to be second in the Wood Memorial. In the Derby, Jazil was last of 20 before making a mild rally to be fourth, beaten 9 1/2 lengths by Barbaro.

Typically, that running style has not been successful in the Belmont. But, given the expected slower pace in the Belmont, McLaughlin doesn't believe Jazil will be as far back as he was in the Wood and Derby.

"We will be much closer than we were in the Derby and the Wood because the half-mile fraction will be 49 [seconds] and not 46. That puts us 15 lengths closer," McLaughlin said. "He'll probably be settled toward the rear if not in the rear. The rear won't be 20 lengths back, we might be eight to 12 lengths back. He will be closer. Sheikh Hamdan wants us closer, and I agree with him, to win we have to be a little closer."

McLaughlin said the key will be how the other contenders in the race handle the 1 1/2 miles.

"I believe if these horses can't get a mile and a half they'll be stopping at the quarter pole to the sixteenth pole anyway," McLaughlin said. "The ones that can get it are going to keep going, but it's not like they're going to come home in 24. We'll be full of run where many of them won't have any run left."

McLaughlin said 18-year-old Fernando Jara, who rode Jazil in the Derby, would retain the mount for the Belmont.

"He rode a great race," McLaughlin said. "If you watch the overhead view, he never got stopped. He saved ground and came through. The main thing with him is the horse switches off for him nice and switches on for him nicely. You hate to go with somebody new and, say, settle out the rear and they're fighting him and it doesn't work."

McLaughlin said he would try to work Jazil by Monday, but also added that he would not be concerned if he didn't get another work into the colt.

"He's dead fit," McLaughlin said.

Double Galore may join field

Double Galore, a recent maiden winner at Hollywood Park, is expected to join the field for the Belmont Stakes, bringing the number of starters to 12. "We're about 80 percent coming,'' said Rafael Martinez, the assistant to trainer Myung Kwon Cho, on Saturday. "We're getting things together today.''

Cho is also the breeder and owner of Double Galore.

Double Galore, a son of Grand Slam, beat older horses going 1 1/16 miles at Hollywood on May 19, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 89. Martinez said he planned to work Double Galore Sunday or Monday at Hollywood before shipping him here Wednesday.

Martinez said he is hoping to get Mike Luzzi to ride.