Derby Runner-Up to Target Belmont Stakes
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt
Commanding Curve at Kentucky Derby 140.
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West Point Thoroughbreds' Commanding Curve, second to California Chrome in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), will target a run in the June 7 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) instead of running in the Preakness (gr. I) two weeks after his big effort, the group's president Terry Finley said May 5.

Trained by Dallas Stewart, the 3-year-old son of Master Command came flying late May 3 with an eight-wide run in the 1 1/4-mile Derby, missing by 1 3/4 lengths in pursuit of just his second lifetime win. He is expected to return to the racetrack May 7 at Churchill Downs.

"He came out of the race well and got right back into the feed tub; he showed me all the positive indicators I look for after a horse runs," Stewart said. "Terry and I have worked together for almost 20 years and we love to test each other and we're constantly trying to help each other keep open minds about opportunities, but we also always try to keep the best path for the individual horse in mind."

Finley said there is still a good possibility West Point silks could still make an appearance in the May 17 Preakness, however, should Graham Motion trainee Ring Weekend continue to progress in his recovery from the fever that kept him from the Run for the Roses. The Tampa Bay Derby (gr. II) winner is expected to breeze May 9 or 10 at Fair Hill Training Center in Elkton, Md.

Ring Weekend is owned by West Point in partnership with St. Elias Stable, while Commanding Curve's ownership group is made up of a different set of West Point partners.

Commanding Curve broke his maiden in his fourth start last November at Churchill Downs, then was sixth in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) and third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots before his outstanding Derby effort.

"The vast majority of Derby runs, you make the move Commanding Curve made and you're in the winner's circle," Stewart said. "Unfortunately, this year we had California Chrome to deal with, but we love to compete and we'll see him in five weeks in New York."

"We're extremely comfortable with this path; it's the right race for Commanding Curve as it's perfectly suited to his strengths," Finley added. 

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