Pletcher holds hands with Ajaweed, Moretti in G2 Brooklyn
Coach Todd Pletcher will be well represented with three contenders in Saturday’s $ 1.5 million Belmont Stakes. But the Hall of Fame conditioner will also send a strong contingent into another 1 1/2 mile graduating competition at Belmont on the day, with Ajaaweed and Moretti forming a powerful one-two in 2nd year, $ 400,000 Brooklyn Invitation for ages 4 and up.
Carded as Race 4 on the 13-race slate, Brooklyn’s 134th Race is part of a sensational Saturday card at Belmont Park that features nine ranked stakes and eight Category 1 events, making it the only race in category 2 on breeders Cut quality program.
Pletcher, who won the Brooklyn edition last year with Marconi, has a good chance of repeating success with Ajaaweed, Shadwell Stable’s local dog, who suddenly improved last during the Flat Out on April 30. against Big Sandy.
Ajaaweed showed potential when he started his career in former coach Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn at the age of 2 in 2019 before falling abruptly from the Kentucky Derby Trail in early 2020.
The Curlin colt was given an 11 month respite, returning in January to Gulfstream Park for Pletcher. His first backstroke featured an eighth-place finish, beaten 26 1/2 lengths in an optional one-mile claim on Jan. 31. His fortunes didn’t improve much on his next start to Aqueduct Racetrack, where he was again beaten double – digit lengths on March 14. But that all changed once he extended 1 3/8 miles into the Flat Out as he closed heavily in the stretch to almost pass Musical Heart before settling for second.
“He made us feel like he would do well with the extra distance,” Pletcher said of Ajaaweed, who won a 99 Beyer Speed Figure for his flat performance. “He continues to gallop. He was getting strong there at the end, he just came a little too late. Hopefully we’ve identified what he really wants to do.
With Ajaaweed being a rising potential in marathon distances, the other half of Pletcher’s duo, Moretti, bring much needed experience to owners Repole Stable and Eclipse Thoroughbreds.
The 5-year-old son of Medaglia d’Oro hasn’t raced since August 2 of last year, when he won the Birdstone 1 3/4 mile at Saratoga Racecourse, although his mastery of longer distances is well documented. Coincidentally, it was during the 2020 edition of the Flat Out that Moretti first showed an affinity for marathons. He won the 1 3/8 mile by 5 1/4 lengths race and followed with a second place finish in the 1 1/4 mile Suburban (G2) before his year ended prematurely in the Birdstone.
“I think that’s what he does best,” Pletcher said. “It’s a tall order to run a mile and a half off the long layoff. Hope we have him in good enough shape. I love the way he blew on Friday. He galloped well and strong, so I hope that made him kind and motivated.
Ajaaweed and Moretti will break away from positions 7 and 6, respectively, with Hall of Famer John Velazquez and Irad Ortiz Jr. ready to roll.
Flat Out winner Musical Heart will also be back in Brooklyn. A claim of $ 62,500 by trainer Rob Atras and owners Michael Dubb and Michael Caruso on November 13 of last year, Musical Heart knocked on the Stake Company’s door for its new relationship until that his breakthrough finally came in the Flat Out, which he won end to end in three-quarter lengths with a 99 Beyer. Maclean’s Music’s 6-year-old son will be leaving Station 5 with Kendrick Carmouche on board.
The Brooklyn has also attracted a few out-of-town shippers to spice up an eclectic lineup of older land horses. Chief among those runners is the 4-year-old Tizamagician from California who enters the race after a dominant nine-length victory in Tokyo City (G3) on April 18 at Santa Anita Park.
A Tiznow colt trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella for MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm, Tizamagician really arrived in 2021, with a win in an optional contender to start the year and a second place in the San Pasqual (G2) to go with his coming out party in the city of Tokyo 1 1/2 mile away. It will be ridden by Flavien Prat from post 8.
West Coast Tizamagician joins veteran marathoner Campaign, which has seen a decline in 2021 so far, but has twice won distances and missed less than a length in that race in 2019. Trained by John Sadler for Woodford Racing, Campaign will exit Post 3 with Luis Saez in irons as he looks to bounce back from a distant fourth place in an optional contender at Oaklawn Park on April 11.
“He’s doing well,” Sadler said. “We are adding the turn signals for this race. He trained well with them in Santa Anita. Two years ago he was right there and just got beaten up, so we’re going back. Big wide turns and the distance should be fine.
Robertino Diodoro will be represented by Lone Rock, another shipper who seems well-meaning at this location. Reminiscent of Musical Heart, Lone Rock was claimed by Diodoro and his owner Flying P Stable for $ 40,000 last fall at Churchill Downs, and the 6-year-old gelding has been formidable in 2021, especially at 12 stages.
Three starts ago, Lone Rock narrowly missed the 1 1/2 mile Temperence Hill at Oaklawn Park, and he’s since had two wins over that distance, including an open scorecard last in Marathon Overnight on the 27th. April in Churchill Des bas. Lone Rock will again be ridden by Ramon Vazquez, who was on board for his last two wins, and the duo will start from the outermost post 9.
To complete the field for Brooklyn, Ry’s the Guy and You’re to Blame, second and fourth, respectively, last in Marathon Overnight, and Rocketry, an older marathoner for trainer Jimmy Jerkens who finished third in Flat Out in his last outing.