"Just a little quick to run back," Ellis said, pointing out that racing in the Preakness would mean three races in four weeks for his Kentucky-bred colt who won the Derby Trial by seven lengths seven days before the Run for the Roses. "We'll wait about a week before making a decision, but we're still looking at New York, maybe the Peter Pan (gr. II) or the Belmont (gr. I)."
The $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) is a nine-furlong main track event to be run May 28. The 1 ½-mile Belmont carries a $1 million pot and will be contested June 11.
Ellis is a member of a growing list of Southern California conditioners perplexed by the pre-race dismissal of California-based horses by racing analysts. California-based horses finished in four of the top six spots in the Derby, including winner Giacomo.
"I wouldn't think you'd ever want to underestimate the Southern California horses," Ellis said. "It's a mistake to do it; they always run well when they ship. And Beyer numbers have an East Coast bias anyway."
According to Ellis, undefeated champion Declan's Moon is about three weeks away from returning to tack walking. The Malibu Moon gelding underwent surgery in March to remove a knee chip suffered during his victory in the Santa Catalina Stakes (gr. II) March 5. Declan's Moon defeated Derby winner Giacomo by a length in last year's Hollywood Futurity (gr. I).
"It's flattering," Ellis said. "With the California horses running so good in the Derby, especially Giacomo, and with Declan's Moon considered to be the best of them, it's definitely flattering."
Owned by Jay Em Ess Stable, Declan's Moon was the early Kentucky Derby favorite before being sidelined by injury. Though set to return to training, Ellis said he doesn't have any specific spot picked out for the Jay Em Ess Stables color-bearer.