04/26/2013 2:57PM

Mid-South notes: Justin Phillip to start in Grade 2 True North

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Tom Keyser
Justin Phillip, the winner of the Grade 3 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn on April 13, likely will start next in the Grade 2 True North Handicap at Belmont on June 8.

Justin Phillip wrapped up his perfect Oaklawn meet with a win in the Grade 3, $250,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap on April 13, and now he has his sights set on Belmont Park. Trainer Steve Asmussen said the horse is being pointed toward the Grade 2, $400,000 True North Handicap, a six-furlong race on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 8.

“He’s had a little luck in a stakes on Belmont Day before,” Asmussen said.

Justin Phillip registered the most prestigious win of his career in the Grade 2 Woody Stephens on the Belmont Stakes undercard in 2011.

During the recent Oaklawn meet, Justin Phillip went 2 for 2. He was a sweeping, 4 1/2-length allowance winner March 21. Justin Phillip then returned in the Count Fleet and closed fast to win the six-furlong race in 1:09.60. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

“I like where his confidence level is,” Asmussen said.

Asmussen said that with Justin Phillip’s last two starts coming “on top of each other,” the short break ahead of the True North works well for the horse. Justin Phillip, a 5-year-old by First Samurai, races for Zayat Stables.

Unique card at Remington Park

Remington Park will conduct Quarter Horse races over 11 different distances Sunday in a first for the track. The first race will be run over 870 yards, and the distances will shorten throughout the 11-race card. The finale is 110 yards.

A representative of the American Quarter Horse Association said that after research, the organization was unable to come up with another track that had run 11 races at 11 different distances on a single program. There are a total of 14 official distances recognized by the AQHA.

◗ Miguel Hernandez, who was the second-leading rider at Sunland, is now based at Lone Star. He won three races at the track Thursday night, all for trainer Justin Evans.