Kentucky Derby Contenders
Saffie Joseph 1000 wins
Ken McPeek 3000 wins
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Justify arrives at Belmont Park on Wednesday afternoon.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from Thursday to Saturday, highlighted by the 150th Belmont Stakes run on Saturday June 9 with Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Justify trying to become the 13th Triple Crown winner. The weather is currently looking pretty good on Belmont Day, partly cloudy with temperatures in the low 70's.
|Justify - flew in from Louisville on Wednesday, arriving at Belmont Park shortly after 2PM. Trainer Bob Baffert said, "He was, like, 'Let's get it on!' He didn't get hot. Drank a lot of water when he got off. We feel pretty relieved he made this stage of the journey. He came in here safe and sound. He was just dragging me around there. All the horses in the barn were screaming and yelling. It's almost as if they were greeting him. There's always pressure. Pharoah was a different type of horse. This horse is strong and willing, and as long as he's strong and willing and able, it's up to him to get the 1 1/2 miles. He started this journey just a few months ago. This horse has brought us along. We're just riding his coattails. The talent and ability is there; he's the same type of horse in that respect."
|Justify - is scheduled to gallop on the Belmont track after the renovation break at 8:45AM Thursday and Friday. Baffert added, "Pharoah loved human contact. This guy will let you love on him for about four seconds, and that's it. He bit me when I was walking him around. I'd like to see a nice day (after rain affected both the Derby and Preakness). Things like the weather, how the race is going to play out - I don't really think about that. American Pharoah brought a lot of excitement to the sport. As a sports fan you want to see the Golden State Warriors, you want to see Steph Curry ... you want to see the superstars."
|Bravazo - arrived at Belmont by van on Monday and galloped once around on Wednesday. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, "The trip was easy and he had a good day on the track. He just galloped and did very well. He won't do anything of any consequence between now and the race. He's fit. Now I just need to keep him happy the rest of the way. He had a very good trip in the Preakness. What we would change if we could change it, to make the outcome a little better, would be to maybe move a little earlier. When Justify came off the [far] turn, he moved and then we moved. If we moved when he moved we might have been able to upset him. With the big configuration of the racetrack and the sweeping turns, we should have a good trip. I think it'll get down to which horses have the pedigree and the stamina to finish."
|Gronkowski - galloped once around the main track on Wednesday. Transferred from original trainer Jeremy Noseda to New York based Chad Brown, he comes here off a 4 race win streak, all at 1 mile on synthetic tracks including the Burradon Stakes last out at Newcastle. New rider Jose Ortiz Jr. gets the call aboard the 12-1 morning line shot, out of post 6.
|Hofburg galloped once around the main track after shipping in from Saratoga on Monday. Trainer Bill Mott said, "You've got to have a horse that really wants to do that (go 1 1/2 miles), genetically capable of doing it. That's probably one of the main ingredients. Horses are made a little different, move a little differently, and some have the capacity to do it. Training is part of it, but rather I'd rather have a horse that is capable of doing that rather than one that is challenging as a miler trying to stretch it out. We've been through the paddock and he's good. He was on the race track this morning; wasn't too aggressive, pretty relaxed. We went into Churchill Downs with all the hoopla in there and it didn't seem to faze him. He stays cool and calm. He knows what he's there for and doesn't seem to get too overly bothered. Until the race, he'll just have regular gallops each morning around Big Sandy."
|Restoring Hope - accompanied stablemate Justify on the flight from Louisville. Winless since breaking his maiden in February, he was 3rd in the Wood Memorial (G2) and then 12th in the Pat Day Mile (G3) on the Derby undercard. New jockey Florent Geroux gets the call aboard the 30-1 outsider, breaking from post 5.
|Call to Mind - 4-year-old owned and bred by Queen Elizabeth galloped twice around the inner turf course under exercise rider SImon Scott in preparation for the Belmont Gold Cup (G2) on Friday. Harry Eustace, assistant to trainer William Haggas said, "We went to the turf just to check his leads, and in that respect we were very happy. He popped his lead going into the bend and popped it coming off the bend into the straight. From our perspective, he did everything we wanted him to. He's fit and ready. I think he was a bit exuberant once he got into his stride coming down the stretch. Simon said he was quite keen to keep going. We're just keeping a lid on that and saving it for race day."
|Prince of Arran - also galloped twice around the inner turf in preparation for the Belmont Gold Cup (G2). He comes here off a 6th place finish in the Chester Cup Handicap after finishing 8th in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2).