Lukas Duo Confirmed to Run in Belmont Stakes

Lukas Duo Confirmed to Run in Belmont Stakes
Photo: Dave Harmon
Preakness winner Oxbow
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Preakness (gr. I) winner Oxbow   and stablemate Will Take Charge will van to Belmont Park June 3 to compete in the upcoming Belmont Stakes (gr. I), Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas confirmed.

Also set for the $1 million Belmont at 1 1/2 miles June 8 is Darley Stables' Incognito, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said.

Speaking by phone May 31, Lukas said his pair will depart Churchill Downs at 4 a.m. Monday and are scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park for the final jewel of racing's Triple Crown at approximately 6 p.m.

Both colts worked May 30. Brad Kelley's Oxbow breezed six furlongs at Churchill in 1:14 3/5 and Willis D. Horton's Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, traveled the same distance in 1:15 4/5.

"They're both doing great, or else I wouldn't be putting them on a van," said Lukas. "After they arrive at Belmont they'll gallop up to the race. All of their major work is done."

Incognito was most recently fifth in the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) May 11.

"Mainly, he wants the distance," McLaughlin said May 31 of the colt, a son of 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy and multiple grade I winner Octave. "It's a big step up in class, but the 1 1/2 miles is a big factor if you can't get it. We'll take a page out of our ex-boss' (Lukas) book from the Preakness; we feel he deserves a chance."

Incognito put together back-to-back victories at Aqueduct Racetrack in a maiden race and an optional claimer, both at a mile, before checking in 15 lengths behind Freedom Child  , who won the Peter Pan over a sloppy, sealed track by 13 1/4 lengths.

"His last race was a throwout," said McLaughlin. "He doesn't face kickback well, and he got a lot of it in that race. We've got everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by running."

McLaughlin said Incognito will race in the Godolphin silks and have the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. for the Belmont, replacing injured jockey Mike Luzzi.

"Irad had good luck with (multiple grade I winner) Questing in those silks," he said. "We won the Belmont with a 19-year-old jockey (Fernando Jara aboard Jazil   in 2006); we're hoping we can win with a 20-year-old jockey."

Meanwhile, trainer Rudy Rodriguez shipped Vyjack to Belmont the morning of May 31 from his base at Aqueduct and said the gelding will remain there as he trains up to a possible start in the Belmont Stakes.

"He was looking around a little bit, more than I wanted, but it was his first day at Belmont," said Rodriguez.

After winning the Gotham Stakes (gr. III) in March, Vyjack was third in the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct, and 18th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).

"We've been very, very happy for the last two weeks with how he's coming up," said Rodriguez. "He looks very good, he's filling up nice, and I think he was growing a little (coming into the Kentucky Derby) and it took a little more out of him than we were expecting, but he seems pretty good right now. He's happy, and he's enjoying himself."

Rodriguez said he and owner David Wilkenfeld will make a final decision on Vyjack's status for the Belmont Stakes after the gelding breezes at Belmont either June 3 or 4.

Joel Rosario, who rode the son of Into Mischief   in the Gotham and Wood Memorial, could ride Vyjack in the Belmont Stakes if the connections of Derby winner Orb   opt out of the Belmont Stakes. If Orb does run, then Jose Lezcano or Cornelio Velasquez could ride Vyjack, Rodriguez said.

"We're still hoping that maybe they won't run Orb," said Rodriguez. "That's pretty much what we're waiting for."

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