Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Turf Runners Gear Up
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners owns several 3-year-old colts and fillies gearing up for the New York Racing Association’s Turf Triple series.
The series begins at Belmont Park July 10 with the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1T) and the Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1T) for fillies, both at 1 1/4 miles; then moves to Saratoga Race Course for the Aug. 7 Saratoga Derby Invitational (G1T) and Aug. 8 Saratoga Oaks Invitational (G3T) for fillies, both at 1 3/16-miles; and will wrap up back at Belmont with the Sept. 18 Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 1 1/2 miles and Jockey Club Oaks for fillies at 1 3/8 miles.
Dual stakes winner Annex , owned in partnership with LNJ Foxwoods and trained by Bill Mott, will make his next start in the May 1 American Turf Stakes (G2T) at Churchill Downs en route to the Belmont Derby. The Constitution colt is undefeated in three starts, all at Gulfstream Park, including the Feb. 27 Palm Beach Stakes and March 27 Cutler Bay Stakes.
“He will run in the American Turf and from there hopefully go into the Turf Triple series,” said Eclipse’s Aron Wellman. “The pace was pretty fast in the Palm Beach but he made up all of that ground and deserves a lot of credit for making such a big run. The pace was against us in the Cutler Bay, so he had to show some versatility and overcome a slow pace, which he did.
“He’s naturally talented, but still a bit green and not focused. As he matures and develops, I think you’ll see him get even better.”
Wellman said the ownership team has long considered the Turf Triple series a potential target for Annex.
“He’s a high energy horse and we’re hoping that he continues to progress to where we can still consider these races,” said Wellman. “Our goal all along was to point for these races. He’s certainly bred to handle the distance and everything points to him being able to excel going nine furlongs and beyond.”
While Annex has yet to race past 1 1/16 miles, recent maiden winner Avenue , co-owned with Robert LaPenta, William Freeman, and Michael Valdes, graduated at nine furlongs April 8 at Keeneland by four lengths.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the Quality Road colt finished second and fifth in his first two starts at Gulfstream before shipping to Kentucky for his first career win.
Wellman said the decisive victory will propel him to graded company in the May 29 Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2T) at Belmont. The Pennine Ridge-Belmont Derby double has been completed recently by Oscar Performance (2017) and Catholic Boy (2018).
“From day one we knew he would go two turns,” Wellman said. “At Gulfstream, the turf course is tight and on the speed-favoring side, so a mile and a sixteenth plays more like a mile. We had a lot of confidence in him going into his win at Keeneland, a course that he would be better suited for. We’ll likely point him for the Pennine Ridge and from there on to the Turf Triple series.”
Eclipse also has Aviano in partnership with Freeman and Valdes. The Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Pletcher was third in an off-the-turf allowance at Keeneland April 10. He broke his maiden at fourth asking going 1 1/16 miles Feb. 28 at Gulfstream.
“He’s definitely a quality horse,” Wellman said. “We tried facing winners and it got rained off the turf. He’s one that we would like to think could get into the series, but how we get there we’re still unsure.”