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Memorial Day weekend at Belmont Park saw some of the Belmont Stakes contenders on the track or at least walking the shedrow. The big story of the weekend was the announcement on Sunday that Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown has developed a "slight" quarter-crack in his left front hoof. He is being treated by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay and they expect him to be 100% by the Belmont Stakes. Apparently this is true and he is doing better, since he did go out and gallop on Tuesday morning after only walking the shedrow Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Left: Big Brown in the barn this weekend. Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said, "We didn't know until Saturday that it was a quarter-crack. It scares us this happened, but this has nothing to do with his ability to finish what he started. It's bad it happened, but it's good it happened now. He's going to be OK." They first noticed something was off on Friday afternoon.
Right: Big Brown walking the shedrow on Sunday. His hoof specialist, Ian McKinlay, said, "This is a very, very minor crack. We will put a set of wires in and patch it up." The crack is about 5/8 inch long. Dutrow said, "This could also be a very good thing because he burnt his heels (at Pimlico) and it gives him time to get over that. No way missing four, five or six days is going to affect the outcome and his racing ability when he runs."
Left: Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. and hoof specialist Ian McKinlay at the press conference about Big Brown's foot problem. Dutrow said, "Ian keeps telling me it's nothing and he'll be fine in a couple of days, that he will be able to fix it up by Thursday. I am sure he will be 100 percent, yes. If we get to breeze him Tuesday of Belmont week, or even Wednesday, we can live with that. Monday would be great, as long as Ian can get it done the right way." Apparently this was true since he did go out and gallop on Tuesday morning.
Right: Big Brown walks the shedrow on Monday, looking a bit frisky. Dutrow said, "He's been as aggressive as I've seen him. He's really been rank in the afternoon." After the gallop on Tuesday morning Dutrow said, "I think he looks better now than he did for the Preakness."
Left: Casino Drive gallops on Monday morning at Belmont Park. Nobutaka Tada, racing manager for owner Hidetoshi Yamamoto, said the colt would likely work on Wednesday and that a jockey would be named that day as well. He said, "We really appreciate how many good jockeys are interested in our horse. We need the right rider for the Belmont Stakes, whether it be Japanese, American, or European." Said to be under consideration are Yutaka Take, Edgar Prado and Garrett Gomez.
Right: Casino Drive acting up as he leaves the track on Saturday morning. He is known to be rather fractious and acted up in the paddock before the Peter Pan Stakes.
Left: There are three Japanese horses at Belmont and they seem to come out each morning in a group and walk around the barn like this a lot. Here on Saturday morning are Champagne Squall, Casino Drive, and Spark Candle.
Right: Spark Candle was also in the Peter Pan as a rabbit for Casino Drive where he finished 6th. He may go in the Belmont Stakes, but is more likely for the Hill Prince Stakes on the day before.
Left: Tale of Ekati is accompanied to the track on Sunday by trainer Barclay Tagg aboard 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide. Tale of Ekati finished 4th in the Kentucky Derby.
Jockey Eibar Coa rides Tale of Ekati during his workout on Monday where he went 6 furlongs in 1:18.97. Trainer Barclay Tagg was not happy with this and said, "Two works before a Classic race and this is not what I wanted. It's no wonder I'm always in bad mood." No word yet if this will change any of his plans.
Left: Tomcito gallops on Monday morning. He underwent a myectomy to correct a breathing problem after his 7th place finish in the Peter Pan on May 10, and is still not committed to the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Dante Zanelli said, "So far he's doing OK. He galloped a mile and three-quarters this morning, went well, finished well. We need to see him continue to move forward."
Rigth: Zanelli with Tomcito back at the barn.
Left: Ready's Echo, who was 3rd in the Peter Pan Stakes, is still a possibility for the Belmont Stakes. He worked a half mile in 51.04 on the firm inner turf course Monday and trainer Todd Pletcher will make a decision on whether he and/or Behindatthebar will run in the Belmont Stakes soon.
Right: Out at the same time as Ready's Echo was A.P. Arrow, who scratched out of the Pimlico Special on May 16 due to colic. He also worked a half mile on the inner turf, going 52.06, and is thought to be going to either the Brooklyn or Suburban next.
Big Truck gallops on Saturday morning. The Tampa Bay Derby winner was a well beaten 18th in the Kentucky Derby and is expected to go to the Colonial Turf Cup or the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs next.
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