It was the first trip to the track for the Florida-bred son of Harlan's Holiday, who arrived at Belmont June 4 after a flight from Kentucky.
Carroll, a native of Ireland, began his career as an exercise rider at Belmont for Hall of Fame trainer Claude “Shug” McGaughey. His Belmont contender is now stabled in the same barn in which Carroll worked during the early part of his career.
“Being here in the barn brings back many great memories for me,” Carroll explained. “It was great then and it’s great coming back now for the Belmont.”
Skipping the Preakness has allowed Carroll time to fully prepare Denis of Cork for the rigors of the Belmont’s 12 furlongs.
“I view it as we went into the Derby without a prep,” Carroll said. “The Illinois Derby (a fifth and Denis of Cork’s only off the board finish) really didn’t provide us a benefit. Now he has a mile and a quarter under his belt. He is fitter and more mature, and hopefully on Saturday, we’ll be in the winner’s circle.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher reported that Ready's Echo galloped a mile and a quarter June 5, stood at the gate, and was to have schooled in the paddock in the afternoon.
“Everybody’s happy,” said Pletcher.
West Point Thoroughbreds’ Macho Again made his first trip to the Belmont track after arriving from his Churchill Downs base in Kentucky June 4. The runner up of the Preakness Stakes schooled in the paddock before going to the track and jogging a mile and a quarter on the main track.
Terry Finley, the managing partner of West Point Thoroughbreds, was on hand with trainer Dallas Stewart to oversee the Florida-bred son of Macho Uno 's preparations.
“This is a very prestigious race and the whole racing world, and a great part of the overall sports world will be focused on the outcome of this race,” said Finley.
“When you do what we do for a living, you could not pick a greater spot to be a contender. Sometimes, horses don’t turn out to achieve what everyone thinks they will do. Our role on Saturday is to provide the highest level of competition and try to achieve success by winning this race. I am pleased for all 16 of our partners for Macho Again. On Saturday, 15 of those owners will be here. The only exception is an elderly gentlemen in Florida that was not able to make the trip.”
It is the second Belmont attempt for both West Point Thoroughbreds (2006, High Finance, 10th) and Dallas Stewart (2001, Dollar Bill, 4th).
Anak Nakal’s owner, Hassem Masri, was on hand at barn 12 and talked about what he expected from the colt, a son of Victory Gallop out of the Quiet American mare Misk, from his breeding.
“I bred that to be more of a Dr. Fager, a miler,” he said. “But when we broke the horse, and saw him going to the track, I made a phone call to Nick and let him know he had a classic horse.”
Tale of Ekati has been flying beneath the radar in the days leading up to the Belmont Stakes. The Tale of the Cat colt, however, has only been worse than fourth once in his seven-race career. And, he won Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial (gr. I), beating 2007 juvenile champion War Pass.
Tale of Ekati is trained by Barclay Tagg, who five years ago, lost his bid for the Triple Crown when Funny Cide was beaten in the Belmont Stakes.
Guadalcanal arrived at Belmont Park June 5. Winless in five starts for owner/trainer Fred Seitz, the Graeme Hall colt will be hoping to join Algerine in 1876 and Prince Eugene in 1913 as the only horses to break their maidens in the Belmont Stakes.