Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings and James Spry’s Courvoisier worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:02.41 Jan. 28 over the Belmont Park dirt training track in preparation for the Feb. 5 $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3). The 1 1/8-mile test offers qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 scale toward the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1).
“He’s doing well,” trainer Kelly Breen said. “He breezed Friday by himself. It was a maintenance workout and he’s good to go.”
The Regally Bred carpet chestnut is out of 2014 champion 2-year-old filly Take Charge Brandi , who is a half sister to multiple grade 1 winner Omaha Beach . Courvoisier graduated at fourth asking traveling nine furlongs Dec. 2 at the Big A ahead of a 1 1/4-length score in the one-turn mile Jerome Stakes contested over a sloppy and sealed main track New Year’s Day. He garnered 10 Road to the Kentucky Derby points for his Jerome win.
Breen said he is taking a cautiously optimistic approach on contesting the Kentucky Derby.
“We nominated him, but one race at a time,” Breen said.
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Breen said a decision on a jockey for Courvoisier will be made in the next few days.
Trainer Michael Trombetta said he is eyeing a return to New York for R. Larry Johnson homebred Mr Jefferson in Saturday’s Withers.
Mr Jefferson breaks his maiden in August 2021 at Colonial Downs
The Maryland-bred Constitution chestnut shipped to Aqueduct for his last two starts, finishing a distant fourth in the nine-furlong Remsen Stakes (G2) Dec. 4 ahead of a sixth-place finish in the Jerome.
A two-time winner, Mr Jefferson broke his maiden going six furlongs in August at Colonial Downs two starts before defeating allowance optional claiming company at 1 1/16 miles in November at Laurel Park.
Trombetta said Mr Jefferson will benefit from the stretch out in distance.
“More than likely, I’ll send Mr Jefferson up. The two turns definitely help him,” Trombetta said. “The first time I brought him up, I thought he ran well. The last time I don’t think he liked the track very much. That might have had something to do with the sub-par performance.”
Mr Jefferson was initially breezing over the synthetic surface at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, but has posted his last two works over the main track at Laurel. He went an easy half-mile in 50:80 Jan. 30.
Edward Potash, Brad Yankanich, and trainer Jim Ryerson’s Unbridled Bomber returned to work Jan.25 in his second breeze since a fourth-place finish in the Jerome.
Unbridled Bomber (inside) captures a maiden special weight race in November 2021 at Belmont Park
A dark bay son of Upstart , Unbridled Bomber breezed a bullet five-eighths in 1:00 3/5 over Belmont Park’s dirt training track, giving his connections the green light to point to the Withers.
“We’re headed to the Withers next and we’re happy with how he’s doing. We’re happy with how he ran last time and with his last couple races,” Ryerson said. “We’ll see if he can stretch out and handle the ground.”
Unbridled Bomber finished eighth on debut in July at Saratoga Race Course sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs before stretching out to nine furlongs and then back to one mile to break his maiden at fourth asking Nov. 7 at Belmont.
Unbridled Bomber stuck to a one-turn mile in the Jerome next out and was held off the pace in seventh by regular rider Dylan Davis through the first quarter-mile after breaking a step slow. Swung three-wide in the turn, the he seemed ready to unleash a bid for the lead but never kicked away and lost show honors to favored Cooke Creek by three quarters of a length.
“As the way the day went, speed was so dominant over that track,” said Ryerson. “We really couldn’t have put him into the pace and so we just had to see how he would go (from off the pace). I thought he ran very well.”
Ryerson also noted that Miss Marissa , winner of the 2021 Delaware Handicap (G2) and 2020 George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (G2) for Cammarota Racing, has been privately sold by her owners to Japanese interests.