Talk about a busy morning! Heading into today, the excitement could be felt as Triple Crown hopeful American Pharoah prepared for his final workout before the June 6th Belmont Stakes (gr. I), but by the end of the morning, American Pharoah’s workout was arguably overshadowed by the withdrawal of two other Belmont Stakes contenders, which has reduced the expected field to just eight starters.
But before delving into those developments, let’s recap American Pharoah’s workout. With Martin Garcia in the saddle, and with trainer Bob Baffert overseeing the exercise, American Pharoah breezed five furlongs in 1:00 1/5. According to the Churchill Downs Barn Notes for June 1st, the colt started off with fractions of :13, :25, :36 3/5, and :48 3/5 before galloping out strongly through six furlongs in 1:13, seven furlongs in 1:26, and a mile in an exceptional 1:39 3/5.
“Everything went really well today,” Baffert said. “I was worried about the rain a little bit but the track was in perfect shape. He went around there really nice and it sort of let up a little bit when he worked so it went just as we thought. He just kept on clicking right along and so now we just play the waiting game. We’ll ship out tomorrow morning and hope everything goes well when we go to the Big Apple.”
A little later in the morning, it was announced that Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Carpe Diem would skip the Belmont Stakes in favor of a start in the Jim Dandy Stakes (gr. II) or Haskell Invitational (gr. I) later this summer. His defection could have an impact on the pace scenario of the race, as his excellent early speed was expected to ensure a fairly strong pace.
Following the announcement that Carpe Diem would skip the race, it was confirmed that jockey John Velazquez–who rode Carpe Diem in the Kentucky Derby–will have the mount on Materiality in the Belmont Stakes, while Javier Castellano–who rode Materiality in the Derby–will be aboard Madefromlucky.
Thus, with four days remaining until the Belmont, all jockey assignments have been announced and the field currently stands at eight starters. The details are as follows:
|American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert|
|Frammento||Mike Smith||Nick Zito|
|Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin|
|Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans|
|Madefromlucky||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher|
|Materiality||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher|
|Mubtaahij||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Mike de Kock|
|Tale of Verve||Gary Stevens||Dallas Stewart|
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