“He came in around 5 o’clock this morning, he shipped in well,” said Toby Sheets, Asmussen’s New York assistant. “He’s supposed to have an easy breeze on Monday and train lightly the next two days. He’ll go to the track around 6:30, 6:45, in the second set.”
* * *
Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom is scheduled to arrive Sunday from the training center at Fair Hill, Md., and will have his final work for the Belmont on Monday morning.
Trainer Graham Motion will be on hand for the breeze, which is scheduled on the main track after the renovation break at 8:45 a.m.
The Leroidesanimeaux colt will be stabled in the barn of trainer David Donk, a longtime friend of Motion.
Meanwhile, Preakness winner Shackleford, who shipped in to Belmont on Memorial Day, will breeze Saturday morning after the break with exercise rider Tammy Fox aboard.
Trainer Dale Romans said a final decision on a Belmont start would likely be made Sunday, but is optimistic the colt will run in the 1 ½-mile race.
Should the Forestry colt start, it would mark the first time since 2005 that the Kentucky Derby winner and the Preakness winner faced off in the Belmont. That year, Preakness winner Afleet Alex won the Belmont, with Derby winner Giacomo finishing seventh.
* * *
Prime Cut, who finished third in the Grade 2 Peter Pan at Belmont Park on May 14, remains under consideration for the Belmont with a final decision expected late Saturday, said trainer Neil Howard.
“We’re still possible,” said Howard from Churchill Downs, where Prime Cut worked five furlongs in 1:03.60 on Memorial Day. “Mr. [Donald] Adam, the farm manager and I will have a conversation tomorrow evening and we’ll probably make a decision then.”
Howard said the Bernstein colt was doing very well, and added that while the 1 ½ miles is a question mark for all the starters, he feels the colt’s stamina and pedigree are a plus.
“He ran very well in an important prep race for the Belmont, the Peter Pan, so he has a good race over the track,” added the trainer. “But in a race like the Belmont, you don’t want to just say, ‘Yee-hah, let’s go!’ You’ve got the two obvious horses in Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, both of whom still look strong to me, and Nehro as well.”
* * *
Mucho Macho Man, third in the Derby and sixth in the Preakness, will have his final work for the Belmont on Sunday morning on the main track after the break, trainer Kathy Ritvo said.
New jockey Ramon Dominguez will be aboard for the move.
“Everything is going good,” said Ritvo. “He jogged two miles on the main track today, stood in the gate and backed out. I figure Sunday will be good timing.”
After his morning gallop, the leggy chestnut colt, who stands 17-1 hands tall, got his customary bath – in warm water.
“He hates cold water,” said Ritvo. “If you try to give him a bath in cold water, he starts stamping his feet and lets you know he doesn’t like it one bit.”
* * *
Brilliant Speed, who was seventh in the Kentucky Derby, continues to please trainer Tom Albertrani as he prepares for the Belmont. The Dynaformer colt breezed five furlongs in 1:03.11 Wednesday morning and will have another work early next week, said the trainer.
“I feel as if he’s going into this race the same way he went into the Derby,” he said. “He’s doing everything you want to see a horse do going into the race.”
The Live Oak Plantation colt, winner of the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, is 1-2-0 from four starts as a 3-year-old, having finished second in the Hallendale Beach and Dania Beach stakes on the turf at Gulfstream Park over the winter.
* * *
Mike Repole’s Stay Thirsty, the Grade 3 Gotham winner who later finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, is slated to breeze five furlongs at Belmont Park on Sunday as he progresses towards a start in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.
“The horse is doing well and had a very good breeze [six furlongs in 1:12.12] last Sunday,” said Todd Pletcher, who trains the 3-year-old half-brother to Andromeda’s Hero, the 2005 Belmont Stakes runner-up. “Everything has gone smoothly since the Derby. I hope he steps up with a big performance. We’re hoping his pedigree kicks in at the quarter pole.”
No final determination has been made on a rider.
* * *
George and Lori Hall’s Ruler on Ice, third in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby and second in the Federico Tesio, will breeze either Saturday or Sunday morning at Monmouth Park in what will be his final workout in the lead-up to the June 11 Belmont Stakes.
“He’s doing well,” said trainer Kelly Breen. “We’re not sure which day he’ll breeze at the moment.”
Breen said he hasn’t decided when he’ll ship Ruler on Ice to Belmont Park, but would like to keep the Roman Ruler colt at Monmouth Park for as long as possible.
“We’re playing it by ear,” said Breen. “He likes Monmouth Park, and we want to keep him happy.”
Breen will confirm Ruler on Ice’s rider at a later date.
* * *
William L. Clifton, Jr.’s Tizway emerged from his smashing 2 ¼-length victory in Monday’s Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in good shape and remains on target for a start in the Grade 1 Whitney Handicap at Saratoga Race Course on August 6, trainer H. James Bond said Friday morning.
Fourth in the 2009 Whitney, Tizway has returned to his home base in Saratoga Springs and has either the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic or Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Churchill Downs in November as his long-race target. The Whitney will be contested at 1 1/8 miles.
“We’re trying to get a barometer on him,” said Bond. “I believe in my heart he’ll go a mile-and-a-quarter. He ran a good race in the Whitney a couple of years ago, and I think he is a better horse now.”
Bond said boosting Tizway’s value as a breeding prospect will be a factor when deciding whether to point the 6-year-old to the Classic or the Dirt Mile.
“We’ve proved he’s a mile horse, and if we can prove he can go a mile and a quarter it’d do a lot to help his value as a stallion,” said Bond.