Hello Don Julio in good spot

Daily Racing Form National Digital Edition - - Front Page - By David Gren­ing

ELMONT, N.Y. – A soft turf course and 1 1/2 miles proved no hur­dle for Hello Don Julio in the Lau­rel Turf Cup last month. Thus, owner-trainer Michael Dil­ger has no prob­lem giv­ing the 6-year-old geld­ing the op­por­tu­nity to han­dle those same con­di­tions again in Sun­day’s $100,000 Point of En­try Stakes at Bel­mont Park.

As an added bonus, Hello Don Julio looms the pri­mary speed in the field of seven that would run on the turf. Se­cret Pas­sage was en­tered only if the race is moved to the main track.

Hello Don Julio fin­ished sev­enth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Grade 1 Man­hat­tan Stakes here in June. He be­came the fifth horse out of that race to sub­se­quently win a stakes race when he took the Lau­rel Turf Cup. Rid­den by Chan­ning Hill at Lau­rel, Hello Don Julio sparred on the lead with Fi­nal Copy for the open­ing 1 1/4 miles be­fore pulling away late from that ri­val and hold­ing Coop­tado at bay to win by three-quar­ters of a length.

“He showed us he was able to step up to a mile and a half, which he had never done be­fore,” Dil­ger said. “He also seemed to han­dle the softer go­ing that day as well, two things we might not have been fully sure of be­fore that race.”

On pa­per, Hello Don Julio looks like he could have the lead to him­self in the Point of En­try un­der John Ve­lazquez.

“He just has a high cruis­ing speed,” Dil­ger said. “It al­ways puts him on or close to the pace, but he doesn’t need to have it. In his last race, he was quite happy to be sec­ond on the rail with a horse on his out­side and not get overly up­set about it.”

Pat­ter­son Cross looks like the main com­pe­ti­tion to Hello Don Julio. He is com­ing off a fifth-place fin­ish in the Grade 1 North­ern Dancer. Last year, he lost three graded stakes at Gulf­stream Park by a com­bined mar­gin of 1 1/2 lengths.

KEY CON­TENDERS

Hello Don Julio, by Afleet Alex Last 3 Bey­ers: 98-100-100

◗ Wheels back 22 days af­ter win­ning the Lau­rel Turf Cup and has run well on sim­i­lar short rest in the past.

“He’s a feel-good horse,” Dil­ger said. “He lets you know when he’s do­ing well and ready to run.”

◗ Ve­lazquez, a two-time win­ner on this geld­ing, is back aboard for the first time in five races.

Pat­ter­son Cross, by Arch Last 3 Bey­ers: 95-98-99

◗ Drops out of the Grade 1 North­ern Dancer, where he was beaten just 1 1/4 lengths.

◗ Fin­ished only three-quar­ters of a length be­hind Hello Don Julio when those two were sec­ond and fourth in 1 5/8-mile al­lowance at Saratoga. Rock­etry, third in that race, came back to win the Tem­per­ence Hill Stakes.

Just Howard, by English Chan­nel Last 3 Bey­ers: 63-90-97

◗ A Grade 3 win­ner on turf, he has proven ca­pa­ble over soft ground, but must prove adept at this marathon dis­tance.

◗ Picks up Irad Or­tiz Jr. for trainer Gra­ham Mo­tion, who en­tered the week­end 0-5-2 from 16 starters at meet.

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