Slowly but surely the field for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) is getting smaller.
In consecutive days a pair of 3-year-olds that were considered probable are no longer pointing toward the third leg of the Triple Crown. On May 19, trainer Richard Mandella said Wertheimer and Frere’s homebred Setsuko, runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), would get a couple months off after developing inflammation in his ankles. The development was first reported by Daily Racing Form.
The son of Pleasantly Perfect missed out on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) because of a lack of sufficient graded earnings, but ran a disappointing fourth as the favorite that same weekend in the American Turf (gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs. Mandella said he will point the California-based colt toward a summer campaign.
On May 20, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Dublin, who was seventh in the Derby and fifth in the Preakness (gr. I), will skip the Belmont. Dublin would have been the only 3-year-old to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown, but the connections decided to wait for some of the bigger races this summer and fall. The son of Afleet Alex is owned by Robert Baker and William Mack.
“He had five races this season and they were all tough,” said Lukas. “He’s still in good shape, but we will point toward some of the fall classics—the Haskell, Travers (both gr. I), and even the Breeders’ Cup, which is here this year. We weighed the pros and cons of the situation and thought this was the best decision.
“We will keep on training him—we won’t stop on him—but we’ll lighten it up a little. We’ll space his works out a bit more.”
Dublin has produced a 2-1-2 record from 10 starts with earnings of $438,623.
Bertram, Richard, and Elaine Klein’s Stay Put had his final Churchill Downs work in preparation for the Belmont by working six furlongs in 1:14 under jockey Jamie Theriot.
Fractions for the move over a fast track after the renovation break were :13, :26, :38.60, :50.60, 1:02.40, and out seven furlongs in 1:27.
“He galloped out really strong,” said Theriot, who has been aboard Stay Put in his past six starts. “I think we’ve got a big chance. The longer I can sit on him, the better off we’ll be.”
Trainer Steve Margolis, who never has had a Belmont Stakes starter, liked what he saw of the work from the grandstand.
“It was very good,” Margolis said in a statement. “Jamie said he finished well and I got him galloping out in 1:28 and a mile in 1:42. He will ship to Belmont next Thursday (May 27), train Friday (May 28), and then work a half-mile Saturday (May 29) or Sunday (May 30).”
Stay Put won a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer on May 1 after having finished fifth, beaten fewer than three lengths, in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) and Risen Star (gr. II) at Fair Grounds.
“We always thought he had talent,” Margolis said. “Jamie says he never seems to get tired and his Derby Day race was impressive in the way he did it.”
Richard Klein is eagerly anticipating the shot at the Belmont.
“I think we have a colt going in the right direction,” Klein said in a release. “Typically, we don’t do this. We would normally be looking at the $125,000 race (the Northern Dancer) here next month, but you have to take a shot.”