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Monterey Jazz out of Met Mile
ELMONT, N.Y. - The complexion of Monday's $600,000 Metropolitan Handicap changed dramatically on Thursday when trainer Craig Dollase said the speedy Monterey Jazz would not be coming to Belmont for the Grade 1 race.
Dollase said that Monterey Jazz came out of a Wednesday workout at Hollywood Park with some tightness in his hind end. He said Monterey Jazz would be sent to the Alamo Pintado Equine Medical Center in Los Olivos, Calif., to undergo tests.
On Wednesday, Monterey Jazz worked five furlongs in 1:01.40 at Hollywood Park. He had been scheduled to fly from Southern California to New York on Friday.
"Bad timing,'' Dollase said Thursday from California. "We're going to send him up to the clinic. We can't really pinpoint what it is. But we didn't feel right putting him on a plane.''
Monterey Jazz won the Grade 3 Texas Mile at Lone Star Park on April 26 by eight lengths and earned a 118 Beyer Speed Figure, the second highest number of any horse this year. He figured to duel for favoritism - as well as the early lead - with Commentator, the 122-pound highweight. Now Commentator, who owns the highest Beyer of 2008, a 119, could be the main speed in the one-mile Metropolitan, though Divine Park and First Defence have early speed as well.
Commentator, who has won his two starts this year by a combined 27o3/4 lengths, heads what could be a nine-horse field in the Met Mile. He will be conceding 5 to 14 pounds to his rivals, which could include Divine Park (117), First Defence (115), Kiss the Kid (115), Lord Snowdon (114), Premium Wine (114), Council Member (113), and the 3-year-old ZoHumor (108).
The field for the Metropolitan will be drawn on Saturday. The race is the highlight of an 11-race Memorial Day card with first post at 1 p.m.
Nobiz Like Shobiz retired
Nobiz Like Shobiz, a multiple stakes winner on turf and dirt, has been retired, owner Elizabeth Valando said Thursday.
Valando said Nobiz Like Shobiz is currently at Indian Creek Farm in Paris, Ky., pending a potential stallion deal.
Nobiz Like Shobiz was in training at Palm Meadows, Fla., during the winter, but after his third breeze, he was diagnosed with a suspensory injury, Valando said. After being shipped to Kentucky to be examined by Dr. Larry Bramlage, the injury was not as severe as first thought. But Bramlage suggested the horse would benefit from another 30 days off. Trainer Barclay Tagg felt that he would not have enough time to have Nobiz Like Shobiz properly prepared to make a run for the Breeders' Cup in the fall, so Valando made the decision to retire him.
Nobiz Like Shobiz won 7 of 13 starts and earned $1,544,730. On dirt, Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, Grade 2 Remsen, and Grade 3 Holy Bull. On turf, Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Grade 2 Jamaica, the Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and the Grade 3 Kent.
Coincidentally, Nobiz Like Shobiz's half-sister, Song of Love, finished fifth to the good-looking winner Musical Note in a first-level allowance at Belmont on Thursday. Song of Love had won her debut at Gulfstream by 3 1/2 lengths on March 12.
Crown Big Brown, Santos says
Jose Santos, who missed out on a Triple Crown five years ago when Funny Cide was defeated in the Belmont Stakes, believes Big Brown will do what his horse couldn't.
"Every race he won was more impressive than the other one," Santos said. "If he doesn't win the Triple Crown, who will?"
Santos said the versatility of Big Brown is what separates him from Funny Cide and Smarty Jones, the last two horses to have attempted the Triple Crown.
"This horse has more of a cruising speed; you can do what you want," Santos said. "The rider can sit in behind horses, he could be in front. Turning for home the jockey asks him to run [and] he's always been there, accelerating at the point when they ask him.
"Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, they were good horses," Santos added, "but nothing like what I've seen in this horse."
Funny Cide beat Empire Maker by 1 3/4 lengths in the Kentucky Derby. While Funny Cide won the Preakness by 9 3/4 lengths, Empire Maker skipped that race and defeated him in the Belmont. Santos doesn't believe Big Brown has a challenger of the caliber of an Empire Maker, and it wouldn't matter if he did.
"This is definitely a superior horse," Santos said. "This is more horse than any other horse who ever tried. People say it's a weak 3-year-old crop, but he's a real good horse. He makes them look weak."
By the Light heads Pearl City
By the Light, the New York-bred juvenile filly champion of 2007, will make her 3-year-old debut in Saturday's $75,000 Pearl City Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs.
By the Light, trained by Richard Dutrow Jr., won her debut at Belmont last July, took the Lady Finger Stakes at Finger Lakes, and then beat colts in the New York Breeders' Futurity, also at Finger Lakes, before ending her campaign with a 5 1/4-length score in the Delta Princess Stakes at Delta Downs.
None of By the Light's four rivals is coming off a particularly good race. Overandabeauty was beaten 30 lengths in the Grade 2 Bonne Miss. Hold That Prospect was beaten 14 1/2 lengths in the Skipat at Pimlico on Preakness Day. Lady Chance lost the Grade 2 Comely by 11 lengths, and Honest to Betsy was beaten five lengths in a second-level allowance race at Gulfstream in April.
Edgar Prado rides By the Light from post 4.
Steppenwolfer resumes training
Steppenwolfer, third in the 2006 Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Belmont Stakes, worked five furlongs in 1:01.85 Thursday morning over the Belmont training track. It was his third timed work since he rejoined trainer Danny Peitz's stable in late April.
Steppenwolfer has not run since finishing eighth in last year's Gradeo1 Manhattan Handicap on the turf. In subsequent training, Steppenwolfer suffered a cracked right knee and needed time off.
According to Peitz, Steppenwolfer resumed training on a farm in Ocala, Fla., last December, but did not start breezing until May 6. Peitz said he wouldn't look for a race for Steppenwolfer until July. That race would most likely be on the turf.
"We're just going easy with him,'' Peitz said. "We wanted to give plenty of time for the injury to heal so that we weren't going to have any problems with that.''
Turaath, a 3-year-old unstarted half-brother to Steppenwolfer, worked four furlongs in 48.16 seconds on Thursday over the training track.