Citing the 3-year-old gelding's inexperience, trainer Carl Nafzger announced Wednesday that Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) winner Unshaded will not run in the June 10 Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and instead will return to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Thursday.
Unshaded had remained in New York, where he was runner-up in last weekend's Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II), while Nafzger and owner Jim Tafel decided whether to send the gelding to the final leg of the Visa Triple Crown.
With the decision not to run in the Belmont, Nafzger said it would take an unusual set of circumstances for him and Tafel to change their minds.
"The race would have to fall apart before we went back up," Nafzger said.
While he was pleased with Unshaded's effort in the Peter Pan, Nafzger said the son of Unbridled still has much to learn.
"It (the Peter Pan) was actually the race I was looking for in the Lexington…" said Nafzger. "He had not run into horses that just kept hanging on him, hanging on him, and he got confused in this race. Once he got it together in the last 50 yards he really started rolling again. He just really got his momentum flying when he hit the wire."
Nafzger said the $125,000 Round Table (gr. III) at Arlington International, also on June 10, could be Unshaded's next start, with the $1 million Travers (gr. I) at Saratoga the major objective of the summer campaign.
Nafzger said the $100,000 supplemental fee that Tafel would have to pay for Unshaded to run in the Belmont because he was not nominated to the Visa Triple Crown was not a factor in the decision not to run.
"That's really not the point of the issue," said Nafzger. "It takes a real experienced, focused colt to run in the Belmont and I don't know if he's quite that mature yet. It takes a real focused horse to go a mile and a half."