Behindatthebar comes into the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) a fresh horse, having scratched from the May 17 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) due to a bruised left front foot. But the son of Forest Wildcathasn’t raced since a score in the April 19 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland, which begs the question – will the extra time on the sidelines help or hinder the Todd Pletcher trainee?
From the Coolmore to the Belmont is a seven-week stretch, the longest break between races that Behindatthebar has seen. In fact, both of the colt’s wins other than his maiden score came off relatively short periods between races – a 3 1/2-week break before an allowance win at Santa Anita, and just 15 days between that and the Lexington win.
On the other hand, Pletcher skipped the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) because he felt a similar rapid turn-around would be detrimental to the colt’s career. Given the fact that Behindatthebar is a late developer who didn’t even race until this January, the extra time between starts – planned or not – could be right up his alley.
Behindatthebar runs with a closing style that seems to hint at an inclination toward longer distances, while his pedigree’s even combination of speed and stamina could mark him as a legitimate contender come Belmont day. But we have yet to see a solid dirt performance from the Padua Stable runner, who is owned in partnership with Michael Shustek and W. Don Stanley. His only start off synthetic surfaces resulted in a fifth-place effort in the March 8 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III).
Purchased by Shustek in 2007 for $145,000 at the OBS June sale of 2-year-olds and horses of racing age, Behindatthebar made his racing debut at Santa Anita at the beginning of the year, running 6 ½ furlongs over Cushion Track Jan. 12. He finished second in a maiden special weight by just three-quarters of a length in that effort, and came back at Santa Anita Feb. 2 to take his maiden victory.
In that start, Behindatthebar did not disappoint. Fanning five wide at the head of the lane after stalking the pace in the seven-furlong maiden special weight, he closed handily to win by 2 ¼ lengths – earning Pletcher’s respect and attracting the attention of Padua’s racing manager, Sasha Sanan. Padua purchased the colt privately for an undisclosed sum shortly thereafter.
“Todd and I had been looking at a number of horses and he pointed Behindatthebar out to me,” Sanan said. “Long story short, we both agreed we liked the horse and the price he was being offered at and tried to wrap a deal up in as quick of fashion as possible.”
Behindatthebar next ran in the El Camino Real, when he threw in his only disappointing performance thus far – and he came back from that 4 ½-length loss to take an April 3 allowance event at Santa Anita by a handy four lengths in spite of drifting in the stretch after making a bid four wide.
Following that solid effort, Pletcher ran him in the Coolmore Lexington, which the colt won by a length. The winner’s share of $201,500 gave him the graded earnings to make the field for the Kentucky Derby, but Pletcher chose to hold off for a while, aiming instead for the Preakness. The colt was scratched from the second jewel of the Triple Crown May 16, when the bruised leg was discovered.
Behindatthebar was bred in Kentucky by Dr. Frank Justice and Meadow Oaks Farm out of the Runaway Groom mare Rihana.