Just when the sun makes a rare appearance, it is gone in a few hours and the rain clouds roll back in. As a result, several trainers of Belmont horses have had to revise their training schedules.
Bobby Frankel and Chris Clement were delighted to have caught a good track for their works on Saturday, and both feel that their respective Belmont Stakes starters, Empire Maker and Dynever, are coming into the race as fit as possible. Both colts looked strong at the end of their works, with Empire Maker striding out beautifully past the wire, as he worked to the 1 3/8-mile pole, closing his final eighth in :11 4/5. He dropped his shoulder and was striding out with more authority than we've ever seen him. And unlike his pre-Derby works, he did it on his own, without company.
Dynever, picked it up in the final furlong and also continued on strongly well past the wire. This is a classy-looking individual who does everything like an old pro. Like Funny Cide, he will stand for 15 minutes in front of the stands without moving a muscle before going on about his business.
Both colts got their works in just in time, as Saturday afternoon brought torrential rains, turning the track very sloppy once again. As a result, Funny Cide was out early Sunday morning for his twice around jog the wrong way. Trainer Barclay Tagg said he's planning on working the gelding on Tuesday as long as the track is in good shape. The rain was supposed to clear out by tonight, with sun returning for the next few days. But, the long-rang forecast calls for showers again on Friday and Saturday.
Also changing his plans this morning was Kenny McPeek, who arrived from Kentucky at 2 a.m. McPeek had originally planned on working Best Minister, but put it off until tomorrow. Instead he galloped the son of Deputy Minister on the sparsely populated main track, and the colt seemed to handle the slop beautifully.
This is an engaging colt, who is full of life and appears to love what he's doing. While grazing on Friday afternoon, he took several rolls in the grass, and proceeded to leap straight in the air, kicking back with both hind legs while in mid-air.
At Hollywood Park this morning, William Currin and Al Eisman's Outta Here worked a mile over the turf course in 1:43 3/5. This followed a five-furlong drill in :58 3/5 last week. "He went okay," said Currin, who did not seem thrilled with the work. "The dogs were way the hell out. I'm sitting on the fence now. I'm in the gray. We'll see how he cools out and make a decision tomorrow."
Trainer Neil Howard said he and owner Will Farish, the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, would make a decision Monday regarding Preakness runner-up Midway Road's Belmont Stakes status. "All of the sudden, we're looking at a nice horse who jumped up and ran second in the Preakness," Howard said. "He made such a big jump in a short amount of time. We don't want to overestimate."
If Midway Road is to run in the Belmont, he will ship from Churchill Downs on Tuesday. "Chances are he could work Tuesday morning here, depending on when the flight is supposed to leave," Howard said.
Scott Schwartz, trainer of Peter Pan winner Go Rockin' Robin said there has been no decision made regarding the New York bred running in the Belmont Stakes.
"We're really not leaning towards it, but it's not out of the question," said Schwartz, who trains the Distorted Humor colt for his father, Herbert. "The horse is doing great. There are some horses that have dropped out of the Belmont, but you still have Funny Cide, Empire Maker and Dynever. The three best horses are still in the race. We'll definitely meet them somewhere down the road."