Drosselmeyer, who has been graded stakes-placed in his last two starts under Kent Desormeaux, will get a new rider for the June 5 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
The WinStar Farm-owned colt will be ridden by Mike Smith in the third leg of the Triple Crown, racing manager Elliott Walden said May 20. Walden said the jockey switch was made to “shake things up a little bit.”
The son of Distorted Humor, who finished fourth in the Risen Star (gr. II) and third in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) under Desormeaux, fell short of the necessary graded earnings to make the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I). He then ran a distant second to Fly Down in the Dwyer Stakes (gr. I) May 8 at Belmont Park.
“Kent has done nothing wrong. He’s had him in good position in his races, he just didn’t come through on the inside,” said Walden, referring to his trips in the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby where he raced along the rail in the stretch. “We thought we’d try something different. It’s not a lot unlike what Bob (Baffert) did with Lookin At Lucky (when the trainer removed regular rider Garrett Gomez in favor of Martin Garcia for the Preakness). We just thought a change might be a good move.”
Drosselmeyer broke his maiden by six lengths in his final start of 2009 at Churchill Downs, then scored an impressive two-turn allowance win in his 3-year-old debut Jan. 31 at Gulfstream Park. But the chestnut colt has not been able to break through with a big win since then. He is trained by Bill Mott.
“We were disappointed he got beat in the Dwyer,” Walden said. “But it could be a good steppingstone for the Belmont. He had a great work since that race (four furlongs in :47.64 May 17 at Belmont), where he went the last quarter in about :23 and two(-fifths).
“He’s very talented, but just hasn’t gotten it done yet. We’re excited to get him to a big race like the Belmont. We think the distance will be good for him, as will the tactical style of how the race is shaping up.”
Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones, Drosselmeyer is out of the Moscow Ballet mare Golden Ballet. He is 2-3-2 from eight starts with earnings of $210,170.
Smith, who rode Jackson Bend to a 12th-place finish in the Derby and a third-place finish in the Preakness (gr. I), has had mounts in 12 Belmont Stakes. His best finish was with Thirty Six Red in 1990. In his last Belmont start in 2007, Smith finished third aboard Tiago.