Belmont Notes: May 26

The field for Belmont Stakes should be finalized in the next few days.

(From Belmont)

As of May 26, New York Racing Association Stakes Coordination Andrew Byrnes expects the Belmont Stakes field to be: Big Brown, Anak Nakal, Casino Drive, Denis of Cork, Icabad Crane, Macho Again, Tale of Ekati, and Tomcito.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, who worked Ready’s Echo a half-mile in 51.04 on the firm inner turf course May 26, will make a decision on whether he and/or Behindatthebar will run in the Belmont shortly.

Spark Candle, a $1.5-million purchase who is stablemate to Casino Drive, is still a possibility for the Belmont, although his connections are also looking hard at the $100,000 Hill Prince (gr. IIIT) for 3-year-olds at a mile June 6.

Denis of Cork worked five furlongs in :59.80 on the fast main track at Churchill Downs this morning under jockey Robby Albarado, and trainer David Carroll said he is right on schedule for the Belmont Stakes.

“We’ll probably breeze him again on Sunday or Monday and then ship to Belmont,” Carroll said. “He’s a very steady type of horse. He’s not going to blow you away, but he is going to go about his business.”

Asked if he had any reaction to the news about Big Brown's minor quarter crack, Carroll said: “As long as it’s not Denis of Cork with a quarter crack, I really don’t care. Seriously, that is something we all have had to deal with at one time or another. Fortunately, Big Brown is in excellent hands. Ian McKinlay is the best, and I’ve known him for a long time. I’m sure Big Brown will be okay, but I have enough to worry about with my own horse.”

Trainer Barclay Tagg, sitting aboard his stable pony, 2003 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and Preakness (gr. I) winner Funny Cide, was far from happy with Tale of Ekati’s six-furlong work of 1:18.97 at Belmont Park today under jockey Eibar Coa.

“Two works before a Classic race,” Tagg muttered, “and this is not what I wanted. It’s no wonder I’m always in a bad mood.”

Tagg said he didn’t know what his plans would be now for the winner of the Wood Memorial (gr. I), which was fourth in the Kentucky Derby.

Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito sent out Anak Nakal for a half-mile work at Saratoga’s Oklahoma Training Track May 26 and was rewarded with a clocking of 48.68, handily.