No Belmont Decision on Social Inclusion
Ron Mitchell contributed to this report
The gate schooling was expected to help owner Ron Sanchez of Rontos Racing and trainer Manny Azpura make a final decision on whether to run the colt in the Belmont off a third-place finish in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Social Inclusion is also under consideration for the Woody Stephens Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs on the Belmont card, a race his connections now seem to be more in favor.
"If the entries were today, we'd be headed to the Woody Stephens, but we're going to wait until Wednesday to make the final decision because we have to go back to school him again," Sanchez said.
If the horse were to start in the Belmont Stakes, the gate would be in front of Saturday's large crowd. In the Woody Stephens, the gate will be on the Belmont backstretch, away from the crowd.
The owner noted the first time Social Inclusion went into the gate on Monday morning he was fine, but that he became fractious when asked to enter again. The Belmont Park gate crew directed that Social Inclusion return for more schooling Wednesday, June 4, and Sanchez said the final decision on the colt's status would be made at that time. He also said he is leaning 70-30 in favor of the Woody Stephens.
"We were a little bit disappointed because the horse was a little bad-acting in the gate," Sanchez said. "We've got to wait until Wednesday because we want to be the best for the horse and there's going to be a big crowd that day. We don't want the horse to lose his energy and stuff before the race."
Social Inclusion turned in a blistering workout May 31, going three furlongs in :33.48 under jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. He galloped out a half-mile in :45 2/5, :58 flat for five furlongs, and three-quarters in 1:09 4/5.
"Our main goal is the (July 27) Haskell (Invitational, grade I, at Monmouth Park), so when we make the final decision, we'll be thinking of that race," Sanchez said.
Entries must be made by 10:00 a.m. June 4 at the New York Racing Association racing office for the June 7 card.
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