Darley Stable's Bernardini, 5 1/4-length winner of the May 20 Preakness Stakes (gr. I), will not run in the June 10 Belmont Stakes (gr. I), according to a statement released by Darley.
"Bernardini has had three race in quick succession, and Sheikh Mohammed feels that the colt deserved a break before his next target, which will be determined in due course. Therefore he will not contest the June 10 Belmont Stakes," said Jimmy Bell, who issued the statement after speaking with John Ferguson, Darley's bloodstock advisor.
The homebred son of A.P. Indy
broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park March 4, winning a maiden special weight by 7 3/4 lengths. One start later, he made his stakes debut in the April 29 Withers Stakes (gr. III), where his 3 3/4-length margin of victory gave his connections confidence to tackle the Preakness.
"Given the fact Bernardini only broke his maiden in March and won a grade I race in May, we feel that he climbed the ladder of competition quite quickly," Bell said. "We believe he deserves a break."
According to Bell, a major mid-summer contest, such as the July 29 Jim Dandy (gr. II), Aug.6 Haskell Invitational (gr. I), and the Aug. 26 Travers Stakes (gr. I) are under consideration. The colt's ultimate goal would be the Breeders' Cup Classic powered by Dodge (gr. I) Nov. 4 at Churchill Downs.
The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is expected to include Bluegrass Cat, second in the Derby, and Steppenwolfer, who was third. Jazil, who finished in a fourth-place tie, also is set to run.
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to send Bob and John to the race, and might send Point Determined. Bob and John was 17th in the Derby and Point Determined was ninth.
From the Preakness, Sweetnorthernsaint is a possibility, and trainer Nick Zito said third-place finisher Hemingway's Key will run.