Belmont Will Be ‘Redemption Race’ For Santa Anita Derby Winner Rock Your World

A number of Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets contenders schooled at the starting gate and in the paddock on an overcast and drizzly Thursday morning at Belmont.

Godolphin’s Champion 2-Year-Old Essential Quality visited the main track just after 7 a.m. for his routine gallop in preparation for the 1 1/2-mile test.

The son of three-time Belmont Stakes-producing sire Tapit went to the main track under trainer Brad Cox’s assistant Dustin Dugas and visited the gate before a gallop over the main track.

“He’s been doing great,” Cox said. “He went to the track this morning and looked great. Since shipping up here, he’s done well. I don’t see any issues with him.”

Essential Quality, who also schooled in the paddock later in the morning, seeks to give the prestigious worldwide racing and breeding operation their first triumph in an American Triple Crown race. The Kentucky homebred also seeks to add his name to a long list American classic-winning horses who directly descend from prestigious blue hen mare La Troienne.

Hronis Racing and Michael Talla’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World visited the gate on the Belmont main track before galloping a mile and a half on Big Sandy. He later schooled in the Belmont paddock.

Trainer John Sadler was on hand to watch his Grade 1-winning son of Candy Ride prepare for Saturday’s engagement and said the was satisfied with what he’s seen.

“He looked good in the gate and galloped very well,” Sadler said.

Sadler, whose lone Belmont Stakes contender was Dave in Dixie [10th in 2010], expressed confidence in Rock Your World being able to handle the mile-and-a-half distance that awaits him.

“When you’re talking about the Belmont, this is the longest that these horses will run,” Sadler said. “We think he has the action and the pedigree to go that far. Empire Maker is his damsire and he won the [2003] Belmont. He should have a lot of stamina.”

Rock Your World will seek redemption following a difficult break from the gate in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 1, where he was out of position and unable to establish his usual frontrunning tactics.

Stephanie Hronis, who operates Hronis Racing with her husband Kosta, also was on site to watch Rock Your World train. She expressed excitement in being able to watch her horse seek to make amends.

“We’re calling it the redemption race for Rock Your World,” Hronis said. “He’s an exceptional horse. He’s got it on both sides where he can route on the dirt. The Derby was a good learning experience, but at the time it really did hurt. It was tough to see his race being over right in the first few steps from the gate. That was really tough to watch. But again, it was a good experience, and we think he has it in him.”

The owner-trainer combination have notched previous Grade 1-victories with the likes of 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate, as well as Catalina Cruiser, Stellar Wind, Hard Aces, and Ollie’s Candy among multiple others.

Hronis said a triumph in a Triple Crown race would mean the world to her.

“To say exceptional would be an understatement,” Hronis said “It would be such an honor to have a Triple Crown win for everyone for the barn, for both the Hronis and Talla families. We’ve got quite a dynamic going. [Bloodstock agent] David Ingordo is hugely responsible for horses we’ve had in the barn. For our entire team, it would be incredible honor to win.”

Hronis relishes the relationship that her and her husband have with Sadler and said that it goes far beyond the racetrack.

“We’ve adopted John. He’s a part of the Hronis family and he’s adopted us,” Hronis said. “It’s definitely a friendship and a family that means a great deal to each of us. We see that lasting a very, very long time.”

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher’s trio of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets trainees – Calumet Farm’s Bourbonic, St. Elias Stable’s Known Agenda and Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Overtook – all trained on Thursday at just past 6:00 a.m. ahead of their date in the “Test of the Champion” on Saturday. Both Overtook and Bourbonic schooled in the paddock later in the morning.

“They all went out this morning, galloped a mile and a half and schooled at the gate,” Pletcher said. “They’re all looking well.”

Pletcher also reported that Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Martin Schwartz and CHC Inc.’s Valiance spiked a temperature and will be withdrawn from the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps.

Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, who breezed five-eighths in in 1:02.62 on the main track Wednesday, enjoyed a walk day and will return to his regular gallop schedule on Friday.

Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Hot Rod Charlie continues to thrive for trainer Doug O’Neill.

The veteran conditioner called an audible after the main track was sealed Thursday and instead sent the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby-winner to gallop over the dirt training track.

“He went to the nicely harrowed training track and we were very happy with that,” said O’Neill.

O’Neill said Hot Rod Charlie, who finished third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, will not visit the gate this week.

“He’s good at the gate and hasn’t had any issues. We’re happy with him,” said O’Neill.

John and Diane Fradkin’s Grade 1 Preakness-winner Rombauer visited the gate and galloped on the main track at 7:15 a.m. for trainer Michael McCarthy.

“It went well,” said McCarthy. “He went his usual mile and three-eighths which is what we’ve been doing all week long. All is good.”

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