Belmont Stakes Countdown–June 1, 2015

Belmont Stakes Countdown–June 1, 2015

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.”

Shortly after American Pharoah’s workout, it was sadly announced that recent allowance winner The Truth Or Else would miss the Belmont Stakes after coming down with an ankle filling. Trained by Kenny McPeek, the son of Yes It’s True would have been a longshot in the Belmont, but his 2-for-3 record at Belmont Park and impressive allowance victory hinted that he could have been a contender. Hopefully, he will recover quickly and be back in action before long!

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:

Horse Jockey Trainer
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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Follow J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman"):

J. Keeler Johnson is a writer, blogger, videographer, and all-around horse racing enthusiast who was drawn to the sport by Curlin's quest to become North America's richest racehorse. A great fan of racing history, he considers Dr. Fager to be the greatest racehorse ever produced in America, but counts Zenyatta as his all-time favorite. He lives in Wisconsin and also writes for the blog Unlocking Winners.

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