The eight other runners from the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) were resting well, their trainers looking on to future goals for the summer as the Triple Crown season concluded June 7.
Denis of Cork, second in the Belmont, was in good shape following a rally from sixth down the stretch that put him 5 ¼ lengths back behind wire-to-wire winner Da’ Tara.
“He’s a bit tired, and it was extremely hot yesterday, but he’s doing well,” trainer David Carroll said.
Denis of Cork will be joined on his flight back to Kentucky early June 9 by fellow Belmont contender Macho Again. Carroll and trainer Dallas Stewart are both based at Churchill Downs.
“I was very pleased by his effort (in the Belmont), but without someone else joining the early pace, it was just too much for us to close on the winner,” Carroll said. “He has the (Aug. 23) Travers Stakes (gr. I) as a major goal this summer. He belongs in the major races, and there’s a big win in him that will come out.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher was pleased with the appearance of Lets Go Stable’s Ready’s Echo, who closed to finish in a dead heat for third with Anak Nakal in his first grade I attempt.
“He came out of the race well,” Pletcher said. “I thought our horse ran a good race. We were pleased with his effort. Right now, it’s too early to tell where he will go from here.”
Stewart said Macho Again, his fifth-place finisher, was also doing well.
“He came back fine and ran well,” Stewart said. “The distance was just more than he wanted.”
There are no definite plans at this time for Macho Again’s summer campaign. Stewart indicated he would return to Churchill Downs and then determine a schedule of upcoming races for the son of Macho Uno.
Charles Fipke’s Tale of Ekati is nursing a “gash” on the outer bulb of the right-hind heel, according to trainer Barclay Tagg. Tale of Ekati chased Da’ Tara for about a mile before fading to a sixth-place finish.
“He was fine until he got stepped on,” Tagg said. “He has a gash. I don’t know how bad it is. I know he is walking sore on it. Anytime a 1,000-pound horse steps on your heel at 40 miles an hour, it’s not pretty. I don’t know how long the gash will take to heal. Each gash and each horse is different. It should heal in about a month, but you never know.”
Tagg experienced the disappointment of not winning the Triple Crown after Funny Cide’s run was stopped by Empire Maker in the 2003 Belmont. He also understands the challenge of winning the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), Preakness (gr. I), and Belmont within five weeks.
“It’s a tough series; it’s supposed to be tough,” he said.
Tagg said he will monitor Tale of Ekati, winner of Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial (gr. I), over the next few weeks before he considers a summer campaign for the colt.
Guadalcanal came out of the Belmont still a maiden, but none the worse for wear after a seventh-place finish, according to owner/trainer Fred Seitz.
“I’m looking at him now, and there’s not a dot on him,” Seitz said. “We’ll take him back home and regroup. The farm is about 10 miles from Keeneland, so I might just bring him home. I own him, so I can take my time with him. He’s had two 1 ½-mile races in two weeks, so I may just give him a week off and turn him out. We have a lot of options with him, and we’ll probably go back on the turf.”
On May 23, Guadalcanal ran second by a neck in a Churchill Downs turf race at the Belmont distance. It was that race that encouraged Seitz to enter him in the Belmont.
Despite suffering the worst finish of his career (eighth) and beating only Big Brown, who was pulled up, Icabad Crane came out of the Belmont without any problems. Prior to the race, the New York-bred son of Jump Start had never finished worse than third in his previous five career starts.
“He’s doing well,” said assistant trainer Adrian Rolls. “He came out with no problems with him.”
Soon after the Belmont, trainer H. Graham Motion left to travel to his native England for a family commitment. Rolls has been overseeing Icabad Crane’s preparations this past week while Motion oversaw training at his base in Fair Hill, Md.
“For whatever reason, he didn’t fire yesterday,” Rolls said. ‘It was very uncharacteristic. We'll look for another race some other place some other time. But there are no definite plans now.”