Both Isabelle de Tomaso's homebred Irish War Cry and Mark and Nancy Stanley's Hollywood Handsome have been confirmed for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G1) June 10 at Belmont Park.
Trainer Graham Motion said June 4 that Irish War Cry exited his morning work the previous day in good order and, after speaking with de Tomaso, decided to point to the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown.
"That's definitely what we intend to do, as long as things go well the next couple of days. She's very much on board with taking a chance," Motion said. "Obviously, we feel like he didn't run his race on Derby day."
The 1 1/2-mile Belmont will be the first start for Irish War Cry since weakening to 10th after prompting a brisk early pace in the May 6 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) at Churchill Downs.
In company with stablemate Ascend, Irish War Cry breezed six furlongs in 1:14 at the Fair Hill Training Center, where Motion is stabled. New York-based jockey Rajiv Maragh, aboard for both the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets (G2) and the Derby, will retain the mount in the Belmont.
"If we were going to consider running him, he needed to have a solid work, and I think he did," Motion said. "I thought he looked good this morning. We weighed him and he's put on 10 pounds since the Derby. We're very pleased with him."
In a post-Derby work May 27, Irish War Cry went five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 on the Fair Hill dirt. The son of Curlin skipped the Preakness Stakes (G1).
Motion said Irish War Cry would van to Belmont following training Wednesday morning at Fair Hill.
"I think sometimes we overthink these things a little bit. Right after the Derby, I was just so discouraged that I didn't even want to think about another Triple Crown race," Motion said. "Watching him train and seeing how well he's doing being back at Fair Hill and then seeing the result of the Preakness, obviously he's run well with those horses before. It made me think more about it. It's a Classic, it only comes around once in a horse's lifetime and I think he deserves another chance."
Hollywood Handsome, trained by Dallas Stewart, is also set for the New York classic.
"I'm so excited to get this horse to the Belmont Stakes," Stewart said. "We originally toyed with the idea of keeping him at Churchill prior to the Kentucky Derby to see if we could sneak in with 10 points. We eventually decided to run in the Illinois Derby and forego the Kentucky Derby."
Hollywood Handsome finished fifth in the Illinois Derby (G3) but rebounded three weeks later with a narrow-allowance victory at Churchill Downs.
"In hindsight it wouldn't have worked out with the Derby," Stewart said. "I'm glad we got back to the winner's circle the other week in the allowance race."
Jockey Florent Geroux is scheduled to ride the 3-year-old son of Tapizar , who put in his final breeze for the Belmont Friday at Churchill, clipping through five furlongs in 1:00 3/5.
Other Belmont Stakes contenders include Classic Empire, Epicharis, J Boys Echo, Lookin At Lee, Meantime, Multiplier, Patch, Senior Investment, Tapwrit, and Twisted Tom, while Gormley remains possible to bring the prospective field to 13.