Caixa Eletronica seeks to defend his victory last year when he runs back in the $400,000 RTN True North Handicap on the Belmont Stakes undercard June 8.
Carded as race 7, the six-furlong True North drew a field of seven, with Justin Phillip and Fast Bullet coupled in the wagering due to common ownership by Zayat Stables.
Eight-year-old Caixa Eletronica is a multiple graded-stakes winner for Repole Stable and trainer Todd Pletcher. The True North will mark his 63rd trip to the post.
Caixa Eletronica has won 20 times and banked more than $1.6 million. He began 2013 with a facile victory in the Uncle Mo Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, but finished a well-beaten fifth most recently in the Charles Town Classic behind Game On Dude.
The chestnut horse has won half of his 10 starts at six furlongs and has scored twice in eight trips to the post at Belmont Park.
"He's a warrior," Pletcher said of Caixa Eletronica. "He's just a really, really cool horse who shows up every time and seems to get better with age. His last race wasn't what we were hoping for, but the race before that he put on a good performance. He's probably a little bit better sprinting than going long, but he seems like he's training really well."
Justin Phillip is another with back class, having won the Woody Stephens Stakes in 2011. He was beaten less than a length by Caixa Eletronica in last year's True North and is coming off a victory in the Count Fleet Sprint Handicap at Oaklawn Park.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, the 5-year-old son of First Samurai has won three of six at Belmont and is six of 26 lifetime, earning $782,162.
Sage Valley is a hot horse riding a four-race win streak coming into the True North. He began his 2013 campaign with a score in the Maryland Sprint Handicap at Pimlico Race Course on Preakness Stakes day. Michael Dubb's fast son of Discreet Cat is 2-for-3 at Belmont and 3-for-5 at the distance.
"We were expecting him to run good, but when you're coming into a graded race and coming off a layoff, you don't know," trainer Rudy Rodriguez said while noting the six months since his prior start. "We wanted to get him going, because you don't know how long they're going to last. He looks like he's ready to run. He hasn't missed anything. He's here, and he's good, so we'll go. He's a good horse, and the good horses want to run."
Fast Bullet, trained by Bob Baffert, ships in from California. He was sharp enough to try the Breeders' Cup Sprint in just his third career start last year, finishing sixth. He then won an optional claimer by daylight in December. The True North will be the first start of the year for the Speightstown 5-year-old.
Reload is another sharp horse, having won an optional claimer by five lengths at Belmont May 9. He rides a two-race win streak into the True North and comes from the Phipps Stable/Shug McGaughey connection. The Hard Spun colt has won twice and placed second twice in five Belmont starts.
"It's a big step up for him," McGaughey said. "His last two races, he won easy. There's obviously some very solid horses in it, but I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes us. We only have to walk 200 yards [from the barn], so we might as well see. I think he's got a chance to be that kind of horse."
D. Wayne Lukas sends out Willis Horton's Laurie's Rocket off a pair of thirds in graded sprints. The same connections have Will Take Charge in the Belmont Stakes. Laurie's Rocket won the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn in March.
Off the Jak completes the lineup. This year he has won the Sunshine Millions Sprint at Gulfstream Park and an optional claimer from five starts.