Multiple Grade 1 hero Oscar Performance and Grade 2 victor Frostmourne each readied for upcoming stakes starts with breezes over the firm turf Belmont Park on Sunday.
Oscar Performance, hero of the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) and Secretariat Stakes (G1) in his past two, clocked a bullet five furlongs on the grass in :59.42 for trainer Brian Lynch. The Kitten’s Joy ridgling worked in company with The Bull and is expected to have one more move before going in the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1) on September 30, Super Saturday, at Belmont Park.
“His last few works have been easy ones on the dirt, and the turf is back open now so we wanted him to stretch his legs over five-eighths,” Lynch explained. “We worked him with a pretty nice import from Australia called The Bull.
“He looked very good. I would say we’re definitely on track for the Joe Hirsch. To the eye, it was a very appealing work.”
The 1 1/2-mile Joe Hirsch is a “Win & You’re In” Challenge race that offers an automatic, fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) on November 4 at Del Mar. Oscar Performance is no stranger to the excitement of the World Championships, having captured the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) last November at Santa Anita Park to close out his two-year-old campaign in style.
The Kentucky-bred bay didn’t offer much in his first two starts as a sophomore but returned to form when triumphing in the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) at Belmont Park on June 3. He followed that score with victories in the Belmont Derby and Secretariat.
“Coming out of the Secretariat, you couldn’t get him going much better than he was going a mile and a quarter,” Lynch said. “Now, it’s just maintenance. It was a nice work today and we’ll give him a nice-and-easy five-eighths next week.”
Trainer Christophe Clement sent out Frostmourne for a half-mile move over Belmont’s grass on Sunday to ready for the $500,000 Hill Prince Stakes (G3) on October 7.
The Speightstown colt breezed four furlongs in :48.63 in just his second move since late July.
“He’s doing well and had a nice work this morning,” Clement said. “He wasn’t training as well in the summer, so we gave him some time off. He turned it around and he’d doing pretty well at the moment. I worked him last week and got a little bit more aggressive this week. We’ll work him in company next week and he should be perfect for the Hill Prince.”
Frostmourne was last seen romping by six lengths in the July 15 Kent Stakes (G3) at Delaware Park, which followed a 1 1/4-length score in the Penn Mile (G3) at Penn National on June 3. The dark bay colt, who ran fourth behind Oscar Performance in last year’s Pilgrim Stakes (G3), closed out his juvenile season with a 3 1/2-length win in the October 29 Awad Stakes. He opened 2017 just missing by a half-length when second in the Woodhaven Stakes at Aqueduct on April 22.
Clement also breezed Grade 1 winner Celestine on Sunday, with the Scat Daddy mare turning five-eighths in 1:01.42 over the fast main track at Belmont. The five-year-old is headed to Saturday’s $200,000 Noble Damsel Stakes (G3) at Big Sandy going a mile on the turf.
Celestine joined Clement’s shed row this year after capturing the 2016 runnings of the Just a Game Stakes (G1) and Honey Fox Stakes (G2) for trainer Bill Mott. She ran second in her season opener, the Sand Springs Stakes, then repeated in the Honey Fox and finished fifth in the Just a Game Stakes last out on June 10.