Final contenders arrive for Saturday’s G1 Belmont Stakes

December 10, 2019

ELMONT, N.Y. - All 13 expected contenders for Saturday's Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes are on the grounds at Belmont Park following the arrival of Seeking the Soul, Suddenbreakingnews and Trojan Nation late Tuesday afternoon.

The Tex Sutton charter carrying the trio originated in California with a stop in Lexington, Ky. before landing at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, N.Y. at 2:17 p.m. All three horses were on the grounds by 4:30 p.m., just as a brief rainstorm hit the track.

A maiden winner over older horses May 29 at Churchill Downs, Seeking the Soul was joined by fellow 3-year-old Tom's Ready and Grade 1-winning 3-year-old filly Forever Unbridled in Barn 6. Tom's Ready is being pointed to the Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens and Forever Unbridled to the Grade 1, $1 million Ogden Phipps, both also on Saturday.

"Talking to the guys that shipped with them, they said everybody shipped really well as far as the plane and the travel and all that," Bentley Combs, assistant to trainer Dallas Stewart, said. "They passed the eyeball test, just coming off the van. Seeking the Soul, he was real fired up and feeling good so that's encouraging."

Both bred and owned by Charles Fipke, Seeking the Soul will run with stablemate Forever d'Oro in the Belmont. Forever d'Oro has remained in New York with another Stewart runner since his maiden victory at Belmont Park, also May 29. Stewart was expected to arrive later Tuesday afternoon.

"The two that were already here, they'll gallop tomorrow," Combs said. "The three that just got here we'll kind of gauge them but it looks like they might be galloping tomorrow."

Sonny Henderson's Grade 3 Southwest Stakes winner Suddenbreakingnews, trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, rolled playfully after taking up residence in the Barn 20 annex, two stalls away from Grade 1 Wood Memorial runner-up Trojan Nation.

Suddenbreakingnews and Trojan Nation each exit the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, finishing fifth and 16th, respectively. Derby runner-up Exaggerator, who went on to win the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes May 21, is projected to be the Belmont favorite.

"He looks healthy," said Brandon Velarde, an exercise rider for Von Hemel at Remington Park who is at Belmont to gallop the Mineshaft ridgling into the race. "He looks big. He's gained some weight since he left Remington last year. He looks really well."

Von Hemel was scheduled to arrive in New York early Tuesday evening.

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