Still Dreaming has been a work-in-progress for West Point Thoroughbreds and trainer Graham Motion in trying to match up his ability with effective race distances, and now the connections will see how Belmont Park’s massive main track suits him on Saturday in the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont Stakes card.
The 3-year-old colt’s two wins have come in one-turn races at Laurel Park: going a mile trip in January and 7 furlongs in April. Most recently, he finished sixth of nine but was only beaten 2 1/4 lengths for everything in the Grade 3 Chick Lang Stakes on Preakness Day, earning a career-best 80 Beyer. The Chick Lang’s six-furlong distance does seem to be a tad short of his sweet spot. He has been successful at 7 and 8 furlongs. Can he extend to 8 1/2 furlongs in a one-turn configuration over Belmont’s Big Sandy? The Easy Goer will provide some clarity on Saturday as the chestnut half brother to Kentucky Derby hero Nyquist starts off from the rail with Rajiv Maragh up in a field of six.
“He’s a bit of a difficult horse to place because we think he’s a one-turn horse and six furlongs [distance of the Chick Lang] is a little too quick for him,” said Motion. “This being a one-turn mile-and-a-sixteenth seems like it should fit him. I felt like he was running at the end of the Chick Lang and he previously won at seven furlongs.”
The assignment comes in the race named for another chestnut, Easy Goer, who is being celebrated this week for the 30th anniversary of his Belmont Stakes victory, denying his arch rival Sunday Silence a Triple Crown sweep.
The likely favorite is Alwaysmining, who is stepping back in class and distance after finishing 11th in the Preakness Stakes. Still Dreaming and Alwaysmining are both based at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland.