Zayat Stables’ Belmont Stakes hopeful Paynter drilled five furlongs over the Belmont Park training track Sunday morning in preparation for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 9.
Paynter covered the distance under exercise rider Simon Harris in 59.26, the fastest of 38 recorded works at the distance.
“He worked nice,” said Jim Barnes, assistant to the colt’s Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert. “We were planning on the main track, but they sealed the main track, so we opted for the training track. They went out at 9:30, after the second break. Bob told me to go in a minute, and that’s about as close to a minute as I can get.”
A son of Awesome Again, Paynter easily broke his maiden going 5 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita in February, and in his next start finished a respectable fourth behind I’ll Have Another in the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby en route to a runner-up finish behind Hierro in the Grade 3, one-mile Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. Eight days ago, he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 106 for a front-running 1 1/16-mile allowance victory at Pimlico.
“Bob told me to get the work out-of-the-way today,” said Barnes. “He ran eight days ago, but we’re dealing with weather. They’re expecting more rain tonight than they got today, so what’s another day? The horse’s energy level is great, and he’s lightly raced. He’s only run four times, and he’s got to go a mile and a half. You train him a little differently than you train a horse that’s already gone through the Triple Crown races. Just to get to the Triple Crown races is grueling enough as it is. Can he go a mile and half? None of them have, so you really don’t know, but you’re hoping. Pedigree says he should and I definitely think we brought a fresh horse here, so that’s going to help.”
–NYRA Press Release