Arkansas Derby Day
Las Flores Stakes
Santa Anita Derby
Wood Memorial Day
This weekend at Belmont Park several of the Belmont Stakes contenders were on the track, and on Sunday, Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom arrived at the Belmont Park. His main rival, Preakness winner Shackleford, shipped to Belmont early and has been at the oval for a week. This will be the 22nd time the Derby and Preakness winners have settled the score in the Belmont, but the first since 2005. It is also expected that the first 7 finishers of the Kentucky Derby will be in the Belmont Stakes.
Animal Kingdom arrived at Belmont Park on Sunday morning, and then worked a bullet 1/2 mile in 47.76 on Monday under jockey John Velazquez, the fastest of 32 at the distance. He galloped out 5/8 in 1:00.06 and 3/4 in 1:14.38. Trainer Graham Motion said, "John didn't ask him at all. He did it all on his own. That's why I only wanted to go a 1/2 with him because I figured he'd gallop out pretty strong. He just hasn't changed. He's remarkable. He's taking everything in his stride and he hasn't gotten worked up about it. You saw how he was today. He couldn't have been more laid back. That's what's impressed me."
Shackleford breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.30 on Saturday morning, out 3/4 in 1:14.21 under exercise rider Tammy Fox. Trainer Dale Romans said, “I am excited he’s doing so well and coming into the race the right way. I think he’s going to be very competitive. I wanted to see him work his normal work, and he did today. I thought he went around there really well and it looked like he did everything the way he was supposed to.”
Nehro galloped Saturday and worked 1/2 mile in 50.88, out 5/8 in 1:04.17 under exercise rider Cesar Garcia on Monday. Toby Sheets, assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen said, "I though he worked great, it was just exactly what the boss wanted. We were very pleased with him. He came back good, so onward and upward."
Brilliant Speed was out for a gallop and will breeze 5 furlongs on Tuesday in his final work before the Belmont Stakes. Trainer Tom Albertrani said, "He’s doing great. He’s due to breeze tomorrow with exercise rider Dan Blacker. Nothing too fancy; just let him stretch his legs. He’ll go out after the break." Joel Rosario will be in the irons on Saturday.
Harlan's Hello breezed 4 furlongs in 51.89 with jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard on Saturday morning. The final decision on whether he will enter will be made by Tuesday according to trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal. Shivmangal said, "We didn't go for a hard work. We expect a lot of Harlan's Hello, but we want to take more time with him. We want him to mature. He just had his birthday on May 8. We know he has a lot of potential, based off the race he just ran. It was a hard race for him. He's doing fine - he's eating and doing everything perfectly - but I just want to make sure we put him in the right spot."
Isn't He Perfect was out on the main track for some light work on Saturday. trainer Doodnauth Shivmangal said, "I gallop him two miles a day. Maybe Wednesday I might give him a 3/8 breeze just to open up his wind a little, but nothing much more." Shivmangal added that Rajiv Maragh will ride Isn't He Perfect in the Belmont.
Gio Ponti, the reigning Eclipse Champion turf male, made his final preparations for the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve Manhattan on the Belmont Stakes undercard. After warming up on the main track, he had a 6 furlong work on the turf in 1:13.24. His trainer Christophe Clement said, "Gio Ponti had a very nice work. Everything is great. It was his final work before the race and the plan is to run, next Saturday in the Manhattan with Ramon Dominguez." The Manhattan would be his seventh career Grade 1 win if he is successful.
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