Michael Tabor's Buckle Down Ben, a possible entrant for the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), has been entered to run in a one-mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on Sunday. Earlier this week, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said the son of Devil His Due would be trained up to the 1 1/2-mile third leg of the Triple Crown.
"The race is a means to an end, obviously," Lukas said of the one-turn mile race Sunday. "We just want to get a good effort in him. He doesn't have to win it. I just want to get a good mile in him before I go a mile and a half."
Buckle Down Ben will be guided by Pat Day from post seven in the allowance race, in which he is the 5-2 favorite on the morning line. Bob Baffert trainee Fin Entertainment is the second choice at 3-1, with X Country at 7-2 in the race restricted to 3-year-olds.
"I just feel comfortable that a mile is what I think he needs," Lukas said. "I told (racing secretary) Jerry Botts that I don't want to go two turns at a mile and a sixteenth. I'm not trying to win a race at Churchill -- I'm trying to win a race at Belmont."
Buckle Down Ben last raced at Turfway Park in March, finishing sixth in the Turfway Spiral Stakes (gr. II). Earlier this year, he finished fifth in the Fountain of Youth (gr. II) and second – beaten by a head – in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III). As a juvenile, he won the 1 1/8-mile Laurel Futurity (gr. III) and finished third in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II), also at nine furlongs.
"We're not going to shake the trees -- we're just going to run," said the Hall of Fame conditioner. "Obviously we'd like to win the race and we'd like a good effort. I hope it's not a gut-wrencher."