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Exaggerator poses after his bath on Saturday morning at Belmont Park.
The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival runs from Thursday to Saturday, highlighted by the 148th Belmont Stakes run on Saturday June 11 with Preakness winner Exaggerator trying to win his second Triple Crown race. On a mostly cloudy Saturday morning with temperatures in the low 70s, a few of the Belmont Stakes entrants went out to test the 1 1/2 mile main track on Long Island. Later that afternoon was the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3) for the 3-year-olds on the turf.
With the defection of Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, who was defeated for the first time in the Preakness and then spiked a fever days later, the 148th Belmont should be a wide open affair, with as many as 12 horses going to post. The 1 1/2 mile "Test of a Champion" usually lives up to its name, as the crop of three-year-olds attempt the distance for the first (and for many, only) time. Despite the lack of a Triple Crown this year, fans in attendance will still enjoy a very rich undercard of stakes races including the prestigious $1.25 million Metropolitan Handicap (G1) for older horses at a mile. The weather is still uncertain but they are currently calling for a 40% chance of rain on Belmont Day and temperatures in the mid-70s.
|Exaggerator completed a "two minute lick" Saturday morning. Julie Clark, assistant to trainer Keith Desormeaux said, "He's maturing and seems a little more relaxed and focused. He looks good." He is expected to walk Sunday, gallop again Monday, and conduct his final breeze Tuesday. Regular rider Kent Desormeaux gets the call on Saturday.
Note on the right he is playing with his sponge during his bath.
Brody's Cause, stablemate of Cherry Wine, blew out 3f in 37.11 under jockey Luis Saez who will ride in the Belmont. Romans said of his duo, "I was pleased with the way they both worked. They both showed good energy. They came back to the barn happy. We just want to sharpen them both up. By this time, they've been on the Triple Crown trail a long time. They are fit horses, and we just want them sharp and ready to roll."
Cherry Wine, runner-up in the Preakness, breezed 5f in 1:00.12 under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar. Corey Lanerie is expected to ride again for trainer Dale Romans.
Creator was out for a gallop Saturday morning after working 5f in an easy 1:02 on Monday. New jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will be aboard in the Belmont for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Lani galloped on Saturday after working 5f in 1:02.36 on Wednesday morning, completing the final 2f in 24.55 seconds. Keita Tanaka, agent for owner Koji Maeda said, "This time, we're not going to have very fast runners, so I wouldn't think he'd be 20 lengths behind the front-runners like we've seen in the Preakness, which means he has less ground to make up, which will be an advantage for him."