Buzzards Bay, winning the Santa Anita Derby, will pass on the Belmont Stakes.

Buzzards Bay, winning the Santa Anita Derby, will pass on the Belmont Stakes.

Associated Press

Buzzards Bay to Pass on Belmont Stakes

Fog City Stables' Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) winner Buzzards Bay will not make his next start in the June 11 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) as previously planned, trainer Jeff Mullins revealed Tuesday morning.

The Florida-bred son of Marco Bay will instead start next in the $400,000 Swaps Breeders' Cup Stakes (gr. II) at Hollywood Park on July 9 or the $750,000 West Virginia Derby (gr. III) at Mountaineer Park on Aug. 15, or both.

Both events are restricted to sophomores and will be contested at nine furlongs on the dirt. Buzzards Bay last raced in the May 7 Kentucky Derby (gr. I), finishing fifth and just 6 1/4 lengths behind Giacomo at odds of more than 45-1.

"He's going to be a better older campaigner," Mullins said. "I really don't want to run him at a mile and a half, so we'll wait for a better spot for him. He's nominated to both races."

On Monday morning, Buzzards Bay worked six furlongs in 1:12 3/5 over Santa Anita's fast main track with exercise rider Amy Mullins aboard. The move was the third-fastest of five who went the distance on the morning.

Though Mullins will be watching the Belmont from home, he says he'll be rooting for Preakness Stakes (gr. I) winner Afleet Alex. He firmly believes the son of Northern Afleet  is the division leader despite his loss in the Derby and absolutely the horse to beat in the Belmont Stakes.

"What an animal," Mullins said. "Any horse who can go to his knees at the quarter pole, get up and win by five; you'd better fear him. He should have been the Eclipse Award winner last year. No disrespect intended toward Declan's Moon, who's obviously a nice horse, but where did he go? He never left California. Afleet Alex raced all over and was a length short of perfect."

In addition to the Santa Anita Derby, Buzzards Bay won the Golden Gate Derby and was third in the El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). From nine starts, he's reached the winner's circle three times, with a second and two thirds, for earnings of $619,440.