Trainer Tom Amoss said that with this week’s news of Justify’s break from training due to swelling in his left front ankle, the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 29 “went from a smallish field and a group that didn’t want to run against Justify to a much larger field — and a wide-open race at that.”
Now, Amoss is mulling whether his top 3-year-old colt, Lone Sailor, will be part of the 1 1/8-mile race at Monmouth Park.
Off a runner-up finish by a nose to Core Beliefs in the Ohio Derby, Lone Sailor was originally considered for Saturday’s Indiana Derby at a track where Amoss said he’s “been a big supporter,” Indiana Grand. But the son of Majestic Warrior wasn’t entered for the race.
“We took that off the table with the Justify announcement, and we’re going to see what’s happening in the Northeast at the end of the month,” Amoss said.
Aside from the Haskell — Amoss confirmed he’s received an invitation from Monmouth Park — the Grade 2 Jim Dandy run July 28 at Saratoga and Grade 3 West Virginia Derby on Aug. 4 at Mountaineer are options for Lone Sailor.
The G.M.B. Racing charge has competed in many of his crop’s most difficult races since breaking his maiden Sept. 3 at Saratoga, going winless since then but having come close more than once. Aside from the photo finish in the Ohio Derby, he was a neck away from beating Noble Indy in the Louisiana Derby.
After the Ohio Derby, Amoss remembers telling his wife, “‘Look, there’s going to be a lot of naysayers on Lone Sailor’s will to win after this race. That’s twice in a row that he’s looked like a winner and not gotten the job done.’”
“My only pushback on that,” the trainer added, “is that time will tell. I certainly think that’s a valid conversation and argument on Lone Sailor.”
Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. reported to Amoss that Lone Sailor didn’t see Core Beliefs charging to a win on the far outside. That’s similar to the feedback he received when Noble Indy re-rallied up the rail to win the Louisiana Derby.
After the March 24 race at Fair Grounds, Amoss changed the training regimen for a colt he described as “slow to come around” when it comes to recognizing competition.
“We oftentimes give him targets in his works,” Amoss said. “We make him pass those horses. We work him past the wire, so it doesn’t give him an idea that there’s a time to slow down or a time to speed up — make him totally responsive to what the rider wants to do — and he’s been responsive to it.”