OTB Race Previews
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An accomplished field of eight will line up for the third and final leg of the Triple Crown, the 154th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11 at Belmont Park.
Contested over a stamina-testing 1 1/2-mile distance, Belmont Park's apex affair was inaugurated in 1867 with filly Ruthless capturing its first running. Throughout the past century-and-a-half, 38 horses have captured the "Test of the Champion" en route to Hall of Fame induction, including 13 Triple Crown winners.
This year, Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike will attempt to back up his memorable 80-1 upset in the "Run for the Roses". Owned by Rick Dawson's RED-TR Racing and trained by Eric Reed, the Keen Ice chestnut drew into the Derby off the also-eligible list upon the scratching of Ethereal Road.
Race 11 at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 11 - Post 6:44 PM
|1||We the People||2-1||Flavien Prat
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|4||Rich Strike||7-2||Sonny Leon
|5||Creative Minister||6-1||Brian Hernandez, Jr.
|6||Mo Donegal||5-2||Irad Ortiz, Jr.
|7||Golden Glider||20-1||Dylan Davis
|8||Barber Road||10-1||Joel Rosario
Rich Strike broke from the outermost post in the 20-horse field under jockey Sonny Leon, taking back 17 lengths off a torrid pace set by Summer Is Tomorrow. He was in 15th position at the third-to-last point of call before weaving his way through traffic in the stretch drive to collar Epicenter and Zandon in the final strides and score the second largest upset in the Derby's 148-year history.
Rich Strike bypassed the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes on May 21 at Pimlico in favor of more time in between races, and will attempt to be the first non-Triple Crown winner to capture both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes since Thunder Gulch in 1995. Ten others also have won the Derby and Belmont without a Preakness win, including Zev , Twenty Grand , Johnstown , Shut Out , Middleground , Needles , Chateaugay , Riva Ridge , Bold Forbes  and Swale .
Rich Strike's rise to the occasion was an atypical one for a Kentucky Derby winner. Claimed for $30,000 in September out of a 17 1/4-length maiden win at Churchill Downs, Rich Strike spent his winter at Turfway Park racing over a synthetic surface and finished third in the one-mile Leonatus on January 22 in his 3-year-old debut. Following a fourth in the John Battaglia on March 5, he finished a late-rallying third in the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2, earning enough points to be on the cusp of getting into the Kentucky Derby starting gate.
Reed recalled several horses dropping out and deciding to opt back into the race in the weeks leading up to the Derby before Rich Strike drew in as an also-eligible.
"That was a yo-yo because we knew we had 21 points," Reed said. "At one point we were No. 22 and then we were down to No. 24. A couple dropped off the trail which got us back to No. 22. Classic Causeway came back in, Un Ojo was out, Chad [Brown] decided not to run Early Voting, so we were back to 21 again. It looked like that was it, but Mr. Lukas ended up scratching his horse [Ethereal Road] and it allowed us to win the Derby."
Rich Strike has acclimated well to his new surroundings since arriving at Belmont last Wednesday. Reed described Rich Strike as one that thrives off routine.
"If you break his schedule, he's not happy, and we had to change it a little bit coming here by going out a little bit later, but he likes that," Reed said. "He takes a nap every day between 6:30 and 7:30 while we get ready for him to go out to the track and then he's all business. When he comes back, he'll eat a little bit and then lay down for another hour and a half."
Rich Strike, listed at 7-2 on the morning-line, will exit post 4 with Leon aboard.
The Belmont Stakes has seen eight horses capture the Grade 3 Peter Pan en route to a Belmont score. This year, WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH, Siena Farm and Bobby Flay's We the People, installed as the 2-1 morning-line favorite, will look to add to that number following an emphatic 10 1/4-length win in the traditional local prep for the Belmont on May 14.
The son of Constitution, who sired 2020 Belmont winner Tiz the Law, broke swiftly in the nine-furlong Peter Pan and never looked back, crossing the wire over the good and sealed track under a hand ride by Flavien Prat. We the People earned a field-best 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
A three-time winner of four career starts, We the People displayed two-turn brilliance at Oaklawn Park earlier this year at maiden and allowance level in his first pair of starts, capturing both by at least five lengths. He ran an uncharacteristic seventh in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, where he was wide around the first turn and came up empty.
We the People has remained at Belmont since his Peter Pan coup under the watchful eye of trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who guided the colt through a half-mile work in 47.59 on June 4 over Big Sandy.
"The way he has been acting is what you want to see," said Brisset, who will be saddling his first Belmont Stakes contender. "The way he has changed is really good. When you let him breeze and he breezes that good, it's all a good sign."
Prat retains the mount from the inside post.
Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher will saddle accomplished contenders Mo Donegal [5-2 ML] and Nest [8-1 ML] in pursuit of his fourth Belmont Stakes win, which would put him on even terms with Max Hirsch, R. Wyndham Walden and D. Wayne Lukas.
"They've both trained super," Pletcher said. "Both have trained here and breezed together all three times and I'm really excited about the way they're coming into it and the way they came out of their last breezes."
Donegal Racing and Repole Stable's Mo Donegal was fifth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, where he made up 17 lengths from second-to-last. Mo Donegal rallied wide around the turn, closing in tandem with Barber Road to his outside to finish 3 3/4 lengths behind Rich Strike.
Mo Donegal, a two-time graded stakes winner in New York, was a tough customer in the Grade 2 Remsen in December at Aqueduct to defeat eventual Grade 1-winner Zandon. Following a slow-breaking third in the Grade 3 Holy Bull two months later at Gulfstream Park, he returned to New York on a winning note by running down subsequent Preakness winner Early Voting in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct.
A victory in the Belmont would make Mo Donegal the first horse to capture the Wood Memorial and Belmont Stakes since Empire Maker in 2003.
"We never take anything for granted, hopefully we work out a good trip," Pletcher said. "The last time in the Derby, he just hopped away from there. Hopefully, he gets away cleanly and hopefully doesn't compromise his chances with a poor start."
Irad Ortiz, Jr., who won the 2016 Belmont Stakes with Creator, retains the mount from post 6.
Pletcher's other entrant Nest will take on the boys and attempt to become the fourth female in history to capture the "Test of the Champion," joining Ruthless, Tanya  and the Pletcher-trained Rags to Riches .
Owned by Repole Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, Nest comes into the Belmont off a late-closing second to Secret Oath in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Never off the board in six lifetime starts, Nest won her first two starts this year by open lengths, capturing the Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs in February by six lengths before an 8 1/4-length romp in the Grade 1 Ashland on April 8 at Keeneland.
"She's trained super. She's done everything that we've asked her to do as far as breezes and gallops are concerned. She's given us every indication that she's ready to go," Pletcher said. "She's a strong galloper and she's got super stamina, so we nominated for the Triple Crown back in January because we've had this type of race in mind for her. She has a strong pedigree for it and a lot of ability."
Nest is by prolific sire Curlin, who produced 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice, and out of graded stakes-winner Marion Ravenwood, whose breed-shaping sire A.P. Indy registered the second fastest time on record in the 1992 Belmont.
Jose Ortiz, who piloted Pletcher-trained and Eclipse-owned 2017 Belmont winner Tapwrit, will eye his second victory in the historic race when piloting Nest from post 3.
Barber Road [10-1 ML] arrives at the Belmont off a late-closing sixth in the Kentucky Derby. The gray son of Race Day was last-of-20 at the first point of call and was 11 lengths wide at the top of the stretch, but managed to make up considerable ground to finish 4 3/4 lengths behind Rich Strike.
While still striving for a stakes win, Barber Road made a good account of himself on the Derby trail at Oaklawn with runner-up placings in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, Grade 3 Southwest and Grade 3 Smarty Jones, while finishing a close third in the Grade 2 Rebel.
Barber Road will provide Bill Simon's WSS Racing and trainer John Ortiz with their first Belmont Stakes contender.
Two-time Belmont Stakes winning jockey Joel Rosario picks up the mount from the outermost post 8.
Twenty years after saddling Sarava to the largest upset win in Belmont Stakes history, trainer Kenny McPeek chases a second Belmont Stakes win with Fern Circle Stables, Back Racing, and Magdalena Racing's Creative Minister [6-1 ML]. The Creative Cause gray notched two-turn victories at Keeneland and Churchill ahead of a third-place finish in the Preakness.
"He needed to move forward, and he did in that race [Preakness]," McPeek said. "He's been a horse who has handled whatever level we've taken him to. Good horses do that. It seems like if he can step forward one more time, he's right there."
Creative Minister will exit post 5 under regular pilot Brian Hernandez, Jr.
Hall of Famer Mark Casse, who saddled Sir Winston to an upset Belmont Stakes score in 2019, sends out Golden Glider [20-1 ML] in pursuit of his second Belmont win.
The Ghostzapper chestnut was off-the-board in a trio of graded starts on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis [5th], Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby [4th] and Grade 1 Blue Grass [4th].
He finished a distant second last out to returning rival We the People in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14 in the traditional local prep for the Belmont Stakes. The top-two finishers of the Peter Pan had their Belmont Stakes entry and starting fees waived.
Owned by Gary Barber, Manfred Conrad and Penny Conrad, Golden Glider is following a similar path to Sir Winston, who also graduated at Woodbine and competed in the Tampa Bay Derby [5th] and Blue Grass [7th] before earning a free berth in the Belmont via the Peter Pan [2nd].
Dylan Davis will ride in his first Belmont Stakes, guiding Golden Glider from post 7.
Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking [20-1 ML] is the most seasoned horse in the Belmont Stakes field with 10 career starts. The Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trained son of Exaggerator arrives off a fifth in the Preakness and was previously third in the Wood Memorial.
"I thought he ran decent in the Preakness. He was a little wide in the first bend, but he ran his race," said Joseph, Jr., who seeks his first win in a Triple Crown race. "He's a trier and he needs things to work out for him to get a piece of it. It's racing and you have to take a chance. We think he deserves to take a chance off his Preakness run, especially with the top two not coming back."
Manny Franco, who rode Tiz the Law to victory in the 2020 Belmont, will ride from post 2.
Saturday's 13-race card features a first post of 11:20 a.m. Eastern with the Belmont Stakes slated as Race 11 with a post time of 6:44 p.m.
June 6 - Per HOF trainer D. Wayne Lukas, ETHEREAL ROAD will not make the trip to New York for the Belmont Stakes due to a quarter crack. G2 Jim Dandy and G1 Runhappy Travers at Saratoga are now the long term goals.
June 6 - Howling Time will NOT run Saturday in the Belmont Stakes and will stay home instead to run Sunday in the G3 Matt Winn at Churchill Downs.
June 3 - Brigadier General will not make the trip to New York for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
JUNE 4 - Saturday was business as usual for Grade 1 Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike, who stretched out to two miles in a gallop over the fast main track at Belmont Park. The son of Keen Ice had been galloping 1 1/2 miles for the past two days and went the extra half-mile in his first time over a dry Big Sandy.
Trainer Eric Reed watched from the track apron as a calm Rich Strike awaited his turn to step onto the track. With a flock of photographers around him, the chestnut stood quietly beneath the Belmont Park sign at the exit of the tunnel with his regular pony, Stormy, and had his ears forward while he observed the scene. He became a touch excited as he approached the dirt, but never lost his composure and continued without issue under regular exercise rider Gabriel Lagunes.
"He was great," said Reed, who has been awaiting the chance to observe Rich Strike over a dry track. "The rider said he was moving good and liked it. When he came down the stretch, I was loving the way he was moving today. He can get into his stride and not get distracted here. We went two miles today and tomorrow we'll probably back it up a little bit."
Reed noted that Rich Strike has matured immensely since he posted his memorable 80-1 victory in the Kentucky Derby.
"We had to stand and wait for the track to open. There were all those horses in the tunnel and he never paid his mind to anything," Reed said. "The old Richie would have been tougher than that. The pony has given him a lot of comfort. He and Stormy are buddies."
JUNE 5 - Golden Glider, owned by Gary Barber in partnership with Manfred and Penny Conrad, breezed a half-mile in 49.90 Sunday over Big Sandy in preparation for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 11.
NYRA clockers caught Golden Glider, with exercise rider Kylie Wellington up, through a quarter-mile in 26.20 and out in 1:02.80.
Hall of Fame trainer Mark Casse, who won the 2019 Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston, said he was pleased with the work.
"I thought he worked really well. He settled early, which is what you want out of a Belmont horse, and flew home," Casse said.
The Ghostzapper chestnut was off-the-board in a trio of graded starts on the Kentucky Derby trail in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis [5th], Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby [4th] and Grade 1 Blue Grass [4th].
He finished a distant second last out to returning rival We the People in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14 in the traditional local prep for the Belmont Stakes, which was contested over a good and sealed main track. The top-two finishers of the Peter Pan had their Belmont Stakes entry and starting fees waived.
Golden Glider is following a similar path to Sir Winston, who also graduated at Woodbine and competed in the Tampa Bay Derby [5th] and Blue Grass [7th] before earning a free berth in the Belmont via the Peter Pan [2nd].
Casse said he is confident that Golden Glider will get the distance and that jockey Dylan Davis can work out a stalking trip.
"I'm not worried about the mile and a half, it's just how long it's going to take him," said Casse, with a laugh. "He's a one-paced type of horse, so I'm hoping he'll have a similar trip like Sir Winston. In his previous races, Sir Winston used to come from the clouds but in the Belmont, Joel Rosario kept him close enough and I could see the same thing happening Saturday with Dylan."
Davis, who won his first NYRA riding title at the Aqueduct Racetrack winter meet, will look to secure his first victory in a Triple Crown race.
JUNE 4 - Saturday morning was a busy one for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, who breezed a handful of his heavy hitters at Belmont Park, including Mo Donegal and Nest for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented.
Mo Donegal, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, and Nest, piloted by Jose Ortiz, went to the Belmont training track around 9:30 a.m. and went a half-mile over a fast track in 49.90 seconds. Pletcher caught the pair in splits of 24.80 for the quarter-mile before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14 and seven furlongs in 1:27.20.
"I thought it was good. I liked the way they finished and galloped out," Pletcher said. "Those horses seem to be in good form. This was more of a maintenance work. They had a strong work last week with a big, long gallop out. This week we wanted just a maintenance type of work, which they were able to execute properly."
Donegal Racing and Repole Stable's Mo Donegal, a son of Uncle Mo, arrives at the Belmont off a fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby where he was ten wide at the top of the stretch and made a valiant run to finish only 3 3/4 lengths behind the victorious Rich Strike.
Nest, owned by Repole, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Michael House, is the lone filly in this year's Belmont coming off a runner-up to Secret Oath in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks. A triumph from the daughter of Curlin would make Pletcher, who saddled Rags to Riches to beat the boys in the 2007 Belmont, the only trainer to win dual Triple Crown races with a filly.
Pletcher also worked Shadwell Stable's Malathaat in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps on June 11 as part of Belmont Stakes Racing Festival. The 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, who was crowned 2021 Champion 3-Year-Old Filly, went a half-mile in 48.75 seconds over the training track in company with sophomore maiden Inventing.
"She was doing it absolutely in a canter. She looked awesome," Pletcher said.
Updated: June 6
JUNE 4 - WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH and Siena Farm's We the People breezed a half-mile in 47.59 seconds Saturday over the Belmont main track with trainer Rodolphe Brisset in the irons in preparation for the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes.
The bay son of Constitution made his way towards the backstretch of a fast Big Sandy in the company of a pony before breaking off on his own to start the four-furlong drill. NYRA clockers caught We the People marking off a quarter-mile in 24.20 as he continued to move strongly through the turn and into the stretch about three paths from the rail.
Brisset eased up on We the People a few strides before the wire, galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.40.
"It was a little fast," said Brisset as We the People cooled out around the barn. "The track with the moisture in it will carry you. He couldn't have done it any easier. He was just galloping. He repeated what we've been seeing the whole time here. It looked like he really enjoyed it to me. We've got to have a good week now."
The work was the second over Big Sandy for We the People, who had his first drill going the same distance in 48.39 on May 27. The $230,000 Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale purchase was an impressive winner of the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14 at Belmont, the local prep for the "Test of the Champion."
We the People schooled in the paddock on Friday and Brisset said he will repeat the exercise again next week ahead of the Belmont.
"We'll monitor the weather and his weight and then we'll decide - I'm sure I'll school him at least one more time next week either in the morning or afternoon during the races," said Brisset.
We the People enters the Belmont with a 3-for-4 record, his only loss a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby where he rated in fifth and never fired after going five-wide in the turn. He has won his three starts by a combined 21 lengths, highlighted by his 10 1/4-length romp in the Peter Pan.
JUNE 4 - Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking, who finished fifth in the Grade 1 Preakness on May 21 at Pimlico, breezed five-eighths in 1:02.41 Saturday over Big Sandy in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.
NYRA clockers caught the graded-stakes placed colt working solo under Manny Franco through splits of 25.60, 37.80 and out in 1:15.80 over the fast main track.
Trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr, who is looking for his first score in a Triple Crown race, said he was pleased with the effort.
"We're coming back in three weeks, so we weren't looking for much. We wanted a steady, long and easy breeze and that's what we got," Joseph, Jr. said.
Skippylongstocking, a $37,000 purchase at the OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, is by the stamina-influencing sire Exaggerator, who finished second in the 2016 Kentucky Derby ahead of a win in that year's Preakness Stakes.
The talented bay has appreciated added ground with his Beyer Speed Figures increasing in each of his last three starts, including an 88 for a nine-furlong optional-claiming win in March at Gulfstream; a 91 for a third-place finish in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Wood Memorial presented by Resorts World Casino in April at Aqueduct; and a 94 last out for a fifth-place finish from the outermost post 9 in the 1 3/16-mile Grade 1 Preakness at Pimlico.
"He's going to need to improve again or he'll need some of the others to regress a bit for him to be competitive, but we're hoping he'll go over there and run the race of his life," Joseph, Jr. said.
Franco, who guided New York-bred Tiz the Law to victory in the 2020 Belmont Stakes, will pilot Skippylongstocking in the afternoon for the first time next Saturday.
Joseph, Jr. said he is hopeful that Franco can work out a stalking trip.
"It seems that in the Belmont it's hard to make up too much ground. Most of the horses that run well are closer to the pace," Joseph, Jr. said. "We don't want to be too far back. So, hopefully he can lay a little bit closer without taking him too much out of his game."
MAY 27 - Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher conveyed a strong sense of satisfaction after Nest and Mo Donegal worked in company Friday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 11.
Nest, a filly by Curlin with Jose Ortiz aboard, and Mo Donegal, who was piloted by Irad Ortiz, Jr., went to the fast main track under cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s. Nest worked to the inside of Mo Donegal as both horses completed their five-furlong moves in 1:02.99, followed by an extended three-eighths gallop out.
"The main thing I tried to emphasize to Jose and Irad was that I wanted a good, steady, long gallop out breeze. I wasn't concerned about how quickly they went," Pletcher said. "They got into a good rhythm. I had them out in 1:02 and 4, but what I particularly liked was the three-eighths after the finish line, they galloped out strongly. Both riders said that when I told them on the radio to let them go ahead and go out another eighth, both horses jumped up underneath them and showed they still had something left in the tank, so I was happy. I think both horses have good foundations. I just wanted a good, steady, stamina-building breeze and I thought we were able to accomplish that."
Mo Donegal, owned by Donegal Racing and Repole Stable, was fifth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby on May 7 at Churchill Downs, where he broke awkwardly from the rail in the 20-horse field and was forced wide in the final turn, still managing to make up ground in deep stretch. He entered the Derby from a neck win over eventual Grade 1 Preakness winner Early Voting in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial on April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
"He hopped at the start. I didn't anticipate that we would be a part of the pace, but I also didn't want to be 19th going around the first turn either. He stood in the gate a long time and he's a well-behaved horse. He got a little quiet and just didn't jump and it compromised his position," Pletcher said. "I thought he put in a good run. He had to angle out around horses and have Barber Road laying on him the whole way down the lane. He ran a race that was good enough to win if things would have maybe gone his way along the way, but he kept trying until the end. He was still closing ground that last sixteenth of a mile."
By Uncle Mo, Mo Donegal is out of the Pulpit mare Callingmissbrown whose dam was Grade 1-winning millionaire Island Sand.
Nest was an open-lengths winner of the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland en route to a runner-up effort as the lukewarm favorite in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 6 at Churchill Downs. Nest made a six-wide move down the lane to finish second to Secret Oath.
"From the three-eighths pole to the quarter pole when Secret Oath was able to spread the race a little bit, Nest was bottled up and waiting for a place to go, had to angle out," Pletcher said. "Same thing as Mo Donegal - we went all the way down the lane with another horse laying on top of us. I thought she kept closing resolutely and Secret Oath was better that day."
Nest is out of multiple black-type producer Marion Ravenwood, whose sire A.P. Indy won the 1992 Belmont and produced 2007 Belmont winner Rags to Riches, who also was trained by Pletcher.
Pletcher said Ortiz, who was aboard Nest for the first time, was pleased with the breeze.
"Jose said the further they went, the better she got," said Pletcher, who added there is a "good possibility" that Ortiz could ride if she runs in the Belmont. "When he asked her to keep galloping out, she jumped right underneath him. It was what we were expecting to see, but it was good to see all the same."
Pletcher said her stamina-rich pedigree is one reason why the Belmont is under strong consideration for Nest. He had considered 2021 Kentucky Oaks winner Malathaat, also by Curlin, for the Belmont last year, but subsequently altered course.
"Pedigree wise, it's a no brainer. You've got Belmont all over her pedigree, so I think she'll run that far. That's a huge part of the consideration," Pletcher said. "She's given us every indication since the Oaks that she's doing well. She's had a very good appetite. Last year with Malathaat, we gave [the Belmont Stakes] some consideration, but we felt like she had lost a little weight and needed a little more time. This filly hasn't done anything to discourage me from thinking about it. I'll get together with the connections later, we've all been on the same page of letting her sell us on the idea of running."
MAY 27 - We the People (WinStar Farm, CMNWLTH and Siena Farms) put in his penultimate work Friday in preparation for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, covering a half-mile in 48.39 seconds over the Belmont main track.
"It was an easy half, very routine for him," said trainer Rodolphe Brisset, who was aboard for the work. "It was exactly what we were looking for. Just a maintenance work to put us in a perfect spot for next week. We just like the way he's been acting and training here. He's not an easy horse and he looks like he's maturing at the right time. Hopefully, the next two weeks will be the same."
The son of Constitution established himself as a top contender for the Belmont with a resounding win in the Grade 3 Peter Pan on May 14, the final local prep for the "Test of the Champion." We the People led every step of the way over a good and sealed Big Sandy to win his first graded stakes by 10 1/4 lengths. He covered the nine furlongs in 1:48.27 and earned a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.
"We were happy with the number and you will always have people say it was a sealed track and an easy lead," said Brisset. "But I just feel like that was the right effort right before the Belmont and I think it's the right move to point him to the big one now."
Brisset's other runner in the Peter Pan, Western River, rounded out the superfecta after stumbling at the start and putting in a bid down the lane. The Tapit grey was bested a neck for show honors by Electability, who finished a nose behind runner-up Golden Glider.
Brisset said that Western River had been under consideration for the Belmont but will bypass with other summer goals in mind.
"We took him out of consideration a few days ago and he's already back at Keeneland," Brisset said. "If we had run one-two [in the Peter Pan], the entry fee and running fee would have been waived for the Belmont, but he got beat a head and a neck for the place. He'd have to face We the People again and we felt it just wasn't the right move for the horse."
Western River could target graded company this summer or a potential start in the $135,000 Curlin on July 29 at Saratoga Race Course.
"We will be looking at an allowance at Churchill Downs in June and if he wins that, we'd look at the [Grade 3] Indiana or Ohio Derby or even the Curlin," Brisset said.
WinStar Farm and Siena Farm's Kuchar could be under consideration for a start in the Belmont after a victory going 1 1/4 miles in an off-the-turf allowance for 3-year-olds and up at Churchill on May 22.
Ridden to victory by Florent Geroux, the Uncle Mo colt tracked in second through the first three-quarters before taking command and leading the rest of the way. Kuchar dug down and maintained his advantage down the lane and crossed the wire two lengths the best.
"Kuchar is under consideration for the Belmont just because he won at a mile and a quarter and beat older horses," said Brisset. "Speaking with Florent after the race, he said he was waiting on horses. Watching the replay, you can see at the eighth pole it looked like he was almost in trouble but he rebroke strongly. Based on that, I felt like it maybe wasn't a bad idea to put him under consideration without any commitment. We got him back to Keeneland and he's back to training. He cleaned the feed tub and is moving well. I'll give myself another couple days before really committing to it."
Brisset said Kuchar could also target the Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 25 at Thistledown.
"The timing would be better in the Ohio Derby," Brisset said. "It's 50/50. If I had to lean anywhere, it would be to the Ohio Derby, but things can change."
A homebred for WinStar Farm, Kuchar broke his maiden at third asking by a nose before facing winners for the first time in the Oaklawn on April 23. He set an even tempo under Geroux before relinquishing the lead to Home Brew to be defeated 1 3/4 lengths. He is the fourth foal out of the multiple Grade 1 placed Street Hero mare Street Girl.
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