I’m not sure why I’m still entitling this piece 2013 Countdown to the Triple Crown since, for the 35th year in a row; we will not have a Triple Crown winner. That being said, the 2013 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York on June 8, still looks to be a very interesting race. With still some 10 days to go until the gates open, at this writing , it appears we’ll have the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner (Orb), the 2013 Preakness winner (Oxbox), a filly and a trainer who might have as many as six horses entered in the 1 ½ mile classic.
As it stands right now, I count as many as 13 (with the recent deletion of Micromanage) that are being point towards the “Test of Champions”.
I’ll start with Orb since his popularity continues to grow at an alarming rate. The handsome stretch runner galloped a strong mile last Thursday morning at BelmontPark, his first day back to the track since finishing fourth in Preakness Stakes. Orb jogged about three-eighths of a mile before breaking off from his stable pony at the 6 1/2 furlong pole and completed his last furlong in :15.3
Afterward, trainer Shug McGaughey said he was “pleased with what he saw” and if things continue to go well, he will “run him back in the Belmont”
“If everything’s right, he’s doing right, puts his weight back on, his energy level’s good, we would like to run in the Belmont”.
“He seems to come out of his race (the Preakness) really well.” McGaughey added
Meanwhile arch nemesis Oxbow is scheduled to work this Thursday (May 30) in preparation for the Belmont. When asked how Oxbow was doing, trainer D Wayne Lukas, 77, simply smiled and said “Let’s just say he came out of the Preakness in good shape”
If Oxbow and Orb face one another in the Belmont, it will be the fourth time since 2001 that the winners of the Derby and Preakness have met in the Belmont. The last time that happened was two years ago. (Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, but both were beaten by long-shot Ruler On Ice.)
Other probables for the Belmont include: (in alphabetical order)
**Always in a Tiz, who is owned by NYRA board member Anthony Bonomo, was a late and somewhat surprising entry to the Belmont. He finished ninth in the Wood Memorial in his last start.
“Truthfully, I think the horse has the ability to get the distance,” Bonomo said. “He’s not as seasoned as some of those other horses are right now but as far as ability goes he can run and do well in the Belmont.”
Always in a Tiz, trained by Dominick Schettino and will be ridden by David Cohen went five furlongs in 1:01.1 last Wednesday.
Bonomo added that Always in a Tiz will have another work next (meaning this) week, and after that a final determination will be made, but “at this point in time we’re aiming towards running.”
**Code West, this colt by the good looking, and a Belmont Stakes winner himself, Lemon Drop Kid, shows eight of nine career starts on the board.
He last raced on the Preakness under-card where he blew out (he won by almost 7) an Allowance field.
Interesting note that he will be ridden by Rosie Napravnik who, in turn, will be seeking to become the second woman jockey ever to win a Triple Crown race. What makes it even more interesting is that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the first one (the lovable Julie Krone aboard Colonial Affair 1993)
**Freedom Child…I’m not sure what to make of this flashy chestnut or roan ridgling as he finished in another zip code (behind Verrazano) in the Wood Memorial on April 6.
But in his last start, he came back to win the traditional prep race for this (The Peter Pan Stakes on May 11) by a colossal margin (13 ¼ lengths) but that was one a sloppy (and sealed) track. So, was it the track condition that caused that ‘freak” performance or has this colt turned the corner in his career?
He is trained by a very capable Thomas Albertrani and, like Orb, is by Malibu Moon. Lastly, I love the way he looks in the workout video (see below).
**Giant Finish finished a not embarrassing 10th in the Kentucky Derby at about 39-1 in his last race and (last Wednesday) trainer Anthony Dutrow confirmed that Giant Finish would run in the Belmont.
“I was happily surprised that he beat half the field (in the Derby)” Dutrow said. “I think the horse gave us a great effort and under all circumstances considered I respect him getting a chance in the Belmont.”
*Giant Finish is 2 for 6 in his career and finished third in the Spiral Stakes before his 10th in the Derby.
“I’m not making any predictions, but I do think the mile and a half will be good for our horse,” Dutrow said.
Dutrow added he has not decided on a rider for Giant Finish of yet. (He was ridden by Jose Espinoza in the Derby.)
**Golden Soul, who was a shocking second (at almost 35-1) to Orb in the Kentucky Derby, is “doing awesome” after taking a little more time than normal to bounce back from his Derby performance.
This colt by Perfect Soul had been off his feed for several days and missed a scheduled work last Saturday due to general listlessness, but evidently he is doing much better.
“He had a great gallop today and has been galloping daily a mile and three-quarters and a mile and seven-eighths,” trainer Dallas Stewart said. “He has a great foundation, and today’s (Tuesday May 28) gallop was just awesome. He looks as good or better to me than he did before the Derby. We’ll probably breeze him five-eighths, out in three-quarters, (May 30), nothing overly fast, and we’ll be set”.
**Midnight Taboo has just three career starts but owner Mike Repole said he was “60 percent sure” he was going to run.
**Overanalyze, who has been plagued with inconsistencies throughout his career, breezed four furlongs in :47.2 last week.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said the colt “breezed well and we are planning to run him”.
**Palace Malice put in a very strong five-furlong work (1:00.1) and galloped-out just as strong (also see video)
He absolutely dusted workmate Micromanage, so much so that Mike Repole (who owns both horses) has withdrawn Micromanage from Belmont Stakes consideration because he just couldn’t keep up.
In the work (once again, see video) Palace Malice went in splits of :12.2, :24.4, and three furlongs in :36 flat.
The Daily Racing Form had him galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.1 and Pletcher caught him seven furlongs in 1:24.3 and a mile in 1:38.3.
“To me, it was a monstrous gallop-out, as good as you’ll ever see a horse gallop out,” Pletcher said.
**Power Broker finished a distant fifth in the Santa Anita Derby in his last and was sent to Churchill Downs as a potential starter for the Derby, but Baffert passed and instead he won an Allowance race on May 10 at 1 1/16 miles
Good looking colt by Pulpit cruised a half mile on May 21 in :51.4.
**Revolutionary won the Louisiana Derby but had a terrible start to the Kentucky Derby (got pinched at the start and shuffled back to 18th in the 19 horse field). He remarkably ended up finishing 3rd beaten a length for 2nd and just 2 1/2 lengths for all the money.
Revolutionary worked a half in :48.2 on Monday (Memorial Day), galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.3, six furlongs in 1:14 flat, seven furlongs in 1:27.1, and a mile in 1:41.(yep, you guessed it…see video)
“I was really happy with the way he went this morning, the way he galloped out, the way he cooled out; he wasn’t tired at all,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “I think he’s maintained his fitness really, really well.”
**Unlimited Budget, a filly, is “75% in” according to trainer Todd Pletcher.
She suffered her first career defeat in her last race (The Kentucky Oaks, May 3) after being bumped hard early on.
She will be attempting to duplicate Rags to Riches’ feat. Rags to Riches was another Pletcher filly that won the Belmont in 2007 to become the first female since 1905 to win the race (Rags to Riches is Pletcher’s only Belmont Stakes winner to date).
**Will Take Charge was seventh in the Preakness, will also run in the Belmont.
“He didn’t handle that track (Pimlico) at all,” trainer D Wayne Lukas said. “The Belmont situation might be the best for a long-striding horse like him, with those big, sweeping turns.”
The colt by Unbridled’s Song is scheduled to work Thursday, May 30.
Little Bets N’ Pieces:
**** Verrazano, who suffered his first loss when he finished a tiring 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will make his next start in the $150,000 Pegasus Stakes at MonmouthPark on June 16, trainer Todd Pletcher said.
The Pegasus, at 1 1/16 miles, will serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth on July 28.
“It’s six weeks before the Haskell – I like that spacing,” Pletcher said. “It’s seven weeks out from the Derby, which gives him enough of a freshening.”
**** Mylute, who was third in the Preakness, has also been withdrawn from the Belmont. Trainer Tom Amoss, said he would give the colt “a brief freshening” before bringing him back for a summer campaign.
**** On the fence for the Belmont is Incognito, who breezed a half mile in :50 flat on Wednesday (May 27). Incognito was a well-beaten fifth Peter Pan Stakes, but may have done enough in that race to encourage his connections to maybe run him.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin believes he will “love” the 1 1/2-mile distance.
**** Chad Brown said Saint Vigeur, who second a distant second to Freedom Child in the Peter Pan, is a doubtful starter because the horse developed a quarter crack.
**** …and finally in the “This Has Nothing to do with Horse Racing” section, I was wondering if anyone could explain this one to me.
You see, last week, I went to the Doctor because I was having some stomach issues only to find out that my Doctor wasn’t in and that there was another Doctor “filling in”.
For the most part, I was ok with that….until they handed me….Oh, I don’t know…about 5,000 forms to fill out because this Doctor had “never seen me before”
“Fine…give me a pen.” I thought to myself.
I went about filling out the forms as quickly as I could but came to screeching halt when I read question #32….it went like this:
Sexual preferences: (please choose one)
Do you have sex with?
c) Both Men and Women
d) Other ______ (please fill in the blank)
Other??….Please fill in the Blank??….What??…I mean seriously….what could someone possibly put in there ?
Anyway, you folks should have seen the expression on the Doctor’s face when he got to that part and I circled “D” and wrote in “Giraffes”….
Thanks for reading…
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