Proud Citizen, runner-up in the Kentucky Derby and third in the Preakness, concluded his serious training for the June 8 Belmont Stakes, breezing five furlongs in 1:00 at Churchill Downs Sunday morning.
"I think he's really tightened down now," trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "I know we started off the season a little bit late, but I don't think he's any the worse for wear. I think we had a good chance to win the Preakness, but we didn't have any racing luck. We might have a better chance to beat War Emblem in the Preakness, because the Belmont favors War Emblems' style."
Proud Citizen will fly to Belmont Wednesday, along with War Emblem and Perfect Drift.
Like a Hero, the most inexperienced horse in the Belmont field with only four career starts, breezed a half in :49 at Belmont with exercise rider Andy Durnin aboard.
"The track was pretty deep, and he should get a lot out of it," trainer Beau Greeley said. "We wanted him to go between :49 and :50."
Like A Hero made his stakes debut a winning one, capturing the listed Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park. Greeley says he son of Pleasant Colony just now finding himself.
"As a 2-year-old we just forgot about him because he was a big, backwards horse," Greeley said. "He's just starting to grow and mature. Usually, the Pleasant Colonys start to bloom this time of year. With his breeding, we're hoping he gets the distance."
Another California-based horse, Tracemark, winner of the California Derby and runner-up in the Lone Star Derby, will not run in the Belmont, according to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes.