Special Envoy working towards Ned Evans Stakes start
Special Envoy. Photo by Jim McCue, Maryland Jockey Club.
From a Maryland Jockey Club release
Mr. and Mrs. Bertram Firestone’s multiple stakes-winning homebred Special Envoy breezed five furlongs Friday morning ahead of his scheduled season-opening engagement in the $75,000 Edward P. Evans Stakes Saturday, June 23 at Laurel Park.
Special Envoy, a 7-year-old Stroll gelding trained by Arnaud Delacour, worked in 1:01.40 over the all-weather surface at the Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md. His time was the fastest of four horses at the distance.
It was the fifth timed work since late April for Special Envoy, given the winter off after ending his 2017 campaign with three consecutive victories at Laurel against Virginia-bred/sired horses starting with a nose decision in the one-mile Evans last June.
Special Envoy went on to easy wins in the Hansel Aug. 5 and Bert Allen Sept. 30, both at 1 1/16 miles, the latter marking his final start at 6. He returned to Delacour’s string earlier this spring.
“He’s doing very well. We just gave him a break this winter and we’re going to try to do the Virginia-bred stakes again. That’s the idea. He won [all] of them last year so we’ll try to do as well as we did last year, but it will be difficult,” Delacour said.
“We know him pretty well now, and he’s got his streaks. He’s a pretty smart horse and it seems that he still has plenty of energy and is willing to run,” he added. “He has been breezing very well since we got him back. He’s been working every week like a young horse so we’re very happy with the way he’s doing.”
Special Envoy has a record of eight wins, five seconds and three thirds from 22 career starts, with a lifetime bankroll of $287,650. He finished second in the 2016 Evans and 2015 Bert Allen, both times behind Rose Brier.
Delacour is following a similar blueprint this year for Special Envoy, who went nine months between the 2016 Evans and a fourth-place finish in an optional claiming allowance last March at the trainer’s winter base of Tampa Bay Downs.
“The turf options in the winter are not that great in Florida. You can either run in very difficult stakes or there are no easy races, and to me it’s kind of a waste of a race especially with an older horse, because there’s only so many bullets left,” he said. “So, we tried to time it right. He doesn’t owe us anything. He’s done great and we decided to give him the winter off and let him just relax.”
Delacour said another Firestone homebred, 5-year-old mare Armoire, is being pointed to the female division of Laurel’s Virginia-bred/sired stakes which begins with the $75,000 Nellie Mae Cox June 23. The daughter of Grade 1 turf winner Artie Schiller finished second in all three races last year, including the William M. Backer and Brookmeade Stakes, and has posted back-to-back bullet works at Fair Hill for her first start in nine months.
“She’s doing well. She’s on the same schedule,” Delacour said. “She didn’t breeze today but she’s back breezing and I’m very happy with her. She seems to be doing well and we look forward to bringing her back in the races there.”