Godolphin’s Rebel’s Romance (IRE) gave his connections just what they were looking for in his final piece of serious preparation for the June 5 $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) with a sharp six-furlong work in 1:14.29 over the Belmont Park main track on the morning of May 26.
Under partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 70s, Rebel’s Romance worked in company with stablemate Desert Peace, who is targeting the Grade 2, $300,000 True North on June 4.
The Charlie Appleby-trained pair took a walk through the paddock before heading out to the main track at 9:00 a.m. The two horses jogged clockwise in front of the grandstand and around the far turn before beginning their work down the backstretch.
Rebel’s Romance, winner of the Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan Racecourse last out, tracked to the outside of Desert Peace as clockers caught the duo through splits of :25.00, :36.80 and 1:00.58. Just past the quarter-pole, Rebel’s Romance established a slight advantage over Desert Peace and was coaxed along approaching the wire, completing his move in 1:14.29 while Desert Peace finished up in 1:14.61.
Wednesday morning’s workout was a third breeze in one week for both horses. In their previous two works, Rebel’s Romance was strategically placed right off Desert Peace, who would finish off ahead of his stable mate.
Sophie Chretien, travelling assistant for Appleby, said Wednesday morning’s tactics were by design.
“The plan was to make him work a little bit harder and push to the line to really get that strong piece of work,” Chretien said. “I’m very happy with the horse. He’s progressing very well. It’s ten days before the race, so this was the big work for him, and he’s going forward. They are moving well on the surface and they’ve been eating great.”
A son of Dubawi, Rebel’s Romance is a four-time winner of five career starts with his lone defeat taking place when fourth in the Saudi Derby on February 29 at King Abdulaziz Racecourse. The Irish homebred is out of the Street Cry mare Minidress.
Chretien expressed confidence in the horse’s distance capabilities given his pedigree and his appearance.
“He’s a big-framed horse and a big galloper, so distance will help him,” Chretien said.
Desert Peace, a son of Curlin out of the stakes-winning Flatter mare Stoweshoe – a full sister to Grade 1-winner Taris, will arrive at the True North off a victory at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.
“I was very pleased with him; he’s been very consistent. He’s very focused,” Chretien said.
Chretien said she is hoping for a fast track next Saturday.
“I’m hoping we don’t get too much rain,” Chretien said. “I’ve been looking at the forecast and we might get some rain through the weekend, but after that it should dry by the time we get to the Belmont. I’m not hoping for a sloppy track or anything like that.”
Appleby will be racing against history as he seeks his first American classic victory, as no foreign-based horse has won the Belmont Stakes since Go And Go conquered the 1990 ‘Test of the Champion’ for Dermot Weld.
“It’s something that’s been in the back of his mind and I think Rebel is the horse that could bring it to us,” Chretien said. “Of course, it’s great to have won big races all over the world, like the Melbourne Cup, and having much success in Europe and the Breeders’ Cup here in the United States. To win a race like the Belmont would mean a lot.”
In addition to Rebel’s Romance and Desert Peace, Appleby will also send out Althiqa (GB) and Summer Romance (IRE) for the Grade 1, $500,000 Longines Just a Game on June 5 going one mile for fillies and mares.
Althiqa, a gray or roan daughter of Dark Angel, has never finished off the board in nine lifetime starts and won the Group 2 Cape Verdi at the Just a Game distance before finishing third in the Group 2 Balanchine, both races were at Meydan Racecourse.
A winner of the Balanchine last out, Summer Romance bested her stable mate in the nine-furlong test, which she won by 2 ¼ lengths. Last July, the daughter of Kingman won the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth at Epsom.
Chretien said that both fillies will have their final work on Saturday morning during the designated time window for turf workers.
“They galloped on the grass the other day,” Chretien said. “They’re training well and happy. They’ll have another piece of work next Saturday and hopefully everything keeps going that way.”