A combination of factors—the injury Saturday to Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus and a solid workout Monday—led owner James B. Tafel and trainer Carl Nafzger to conclude that Unshaded should contest the $1-million Belmont Stakes. The third leg of the Triple Crown, which will be televised by the ABC network Saturday, has been impacted by the decision not to run Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet and the injury to Pegasus, the Preakness runner-up who would have been the probable Belmont favorite.
The decision by Tafel and Nafzger, which came after Unshaded worked five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Churchill Downs, is not small matter, considering that the owner will have to pay a $100,000 supplemental fee since Unshaded was not nominated to the Visa Triple Crown challenge.
“More than anything, it was today's workout that made the difference,” Nafzger said. “Of course, when Fusaichi Pegasus came out of the race that had something to do with it. But it was the work that made the difference.” The workout by Unshaded, with jockey Shane Sellers, aboard, was labeled “a very professional work” by Nafzger. Following Unshaded's runner-up finish in the Peter Pan Stakes, Nafzger said the Unbridled gelding would not point toward the Belmont. The trainer held out a slight chance he could have a change of heart, which is apparently what happened.
In other Belmont developments, Monday was a busy day on the track for some Belmont hopefuls and Tuesday will be even busier.
At Belmont Park, Philip Solondz' and Caesar P. Kimmel's Wheelaway
breezed four furlongs in :48 4/5 and galloped out five furlongs in 1:01. “This is just what we were looking for,” trainer John Kimmel said of the work under regular exercise rider Amanda Roxborough. “When you're trying to do things right, it makes it easier when things get done the way you want them done.”
Also working over Belmont's main track was Dogwood Stable's Impeachment, the third-place finisher in both the Derby and Preakness. The colt breezed five furlongs in 1:01 4/5 and galloped out strongly, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. “He's run hard in the Derby and the Preakness, but he's held his weight well,” Pletcher said.
Peter Callahan's Bevo, a 3-year-old who could be a late addition to the Belmont field or who could run in the Riva Ridge on the Belmont card, worked five furlongs in :59 3/5 on Monday. Trainer Bill Badgett said Bevo, who defeated older horses in his only start so far this year, will be ridden by Richard Migliore in the Riva Ridge.
At Churchill Downs on Monday, Robert and Beverly Lewis' Commendable worked six furlongs in a snappy 1:13 4/5 in what Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas labeled an “excellent work.” The colt is scheduled to ship to New York Tuesday.
Both Godolphin horses, Chief Seattle and Curule, are scheduled to work five furlongs between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Tuesday. Tahkodha Hills is also slated to work Tuesday. Commendable is scheduled to arrive at Belmont Tuesday, with Hugh Hefner expected Wednesday.