With two Belmont Stakes (gr. I) hopefuls having completed their final workouts, trainers of other contenders for the June 9 classic have firmed up their plans.
Trainer Doug O’Neill has said Belmont favorite I'll Have Another , who will be seeking to sweep the Triple Crown, will not have an official timed workout but will continue to have strong gallops leading up to the 1 1/2-mile race.
On May 31, MeB Stable’s Five Sixteen turned in his final breeze, posting a 1:00.98 five-furlong move at Belmont Park in company with stablemate Live for Today.
“It was good,” said trainer Dominick Schettino. “He did everything we asked.”
A son of Invasor, Five Sixteen is 1-1-1 in six starts and finished fourth in an April 18 optional claimer at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Also breezing May 31 was Optimizer, who went five furlongs in 1:00 3/5 at Churchill Downs.
“It went very well,” said Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. “It wasn’t anything too important. He’s ready.”
Optimizer, 11th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and sixth in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) for owner Bluegrass Hall, will be the only horse besides I’ll Have Another to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
“I’m not going into the race thinking about possibly being a spoiler,” said Lukas. “It’s a very important race, and I’m in it to win it.”
A majority of the connections of the other Belmont Stakes contenders plan to breeze their horses June 2-3.
Dullahan will breeze at 8:30 Saturday morning, regardless of the weather or track condition, said trainer Dale Romans. It will be Javier Castellano’s first time aboard the Kentucky Derby third-place finisher.
The connections of Street Life, Atigun, and Unstoppable U said their colts are tentatively scheduled to breeze Saturday, pending track condition.
Cherie DeVaux, assistant to trainer Chad Brown, said Street Life will go to the track at 8:45, which is after the 10-minute window set aside for only Belmont Stakes horses to train. DeVaux said the Street Sense colt trains better when there is ample activity on the track.
Ken McPeek trainees Atigun and Unstoppable U are set to breeze separately at 8:30 June 2, but their workouts could be pushed back to June 3 if there’s moisture on the main track, according to assistant trainer Lars Becdelamotte.
Should the workouts be pushed back to Sunday, Julien Leparoux, who is riding at Woodbine on Saturday, will be aboard Atigun. If not, an exercise rider will be aboard Saturday. Junior Alvarado will ride Unstoppable U for his workout on Saturday or Sunday.
Union Rags will breeze at Fair Hill in Maryland on Saturday or Sunday, with trainer Michael Matz saying the latter was the more likely option. Jockey John Velazquez will be aboard.
Paynter will breeze Sunday or Monday, June 4, according to Jim Barnes, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.
Trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said earlier this week that Guyana Star Dweej would have one final breeze prior to the Belmont, possibly June 6 or 7.
The New York Racing Association communications department reported that a call to Manuel Azpurua, trainer of Ravelo's Boy, went unreturned.