Belmont Stakes Countdown–May 29, 2015

Belmont Stakes Countdown–May 29, 2015

It was a busy morning at Belmont Park, where a quartet of contenders for the June 6th Belmont Stakes (gr. I) turned in their final official workouts in advance of the race.

Headlining the work tab were a trio of colts from the barn of trainer Todd Pletcher, including Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) winner Carpe Diem, who breezed four furlongs in a bullet :47.66. The colt worked in company with stablemate and Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) winner Madefromlucky, who was credited with a time of :47.84. Of the pair, Carpe Diem went the best, starting off about a neck behind Madefromlucky before eventually drawing clear to edge his workmate by about 1 1/2 lengths at the finish while Madefromlucky was urged a bit to keep up. However, it should be noted that Carpe Diem did drift out a bit in the homestretch of the workout, which could be something to keep an eye on as the colt continues his training for the Belmont Stakes.

Also breezing for Todd Pletcher was Florida Derby (gr. I) winner Materiality, who went four furlings in :47.78 in company with Louisiana Derby (gr. II) runner-up Stanford, who was credited with the same time. Materiality breezed inside of Stanford and was beaten to the wire by his workmate, but this wasn’t all that surprising, as Stanford is a very good workhouse and is difficult to beat in the mornings.

The fourth and final Belmont Stakes contender to turn in a workout was Wood Memorial (gr. I) winner Frosted, who breezed a half-mile in :47.84. Just as he did last week, Frosted went in company with Godolphin Mile (UAE-II) winner Tamarkuz, starting off about three-quarters of a length in front of his workmate and crossing the wire in front by the same margin without urging. It was another solid effort from the Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt, and from all appearances, Frosted is coming up to the Belmont Stakes in very fine form and will be among the major contenders to try and upset American Pharoah.

Speaking of American Pharoah, the Triple Crown hopeful returned to serious training this morning at Churchill Downs, schooling in the starting gate before galloping nine furlongs with exercise rider Jorge Alvarez in the saddle and with Bob Baffert’s assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes overseeing the exercise. According to the Churchill Downs Barn Notes for May 29th, both Alvarez and Barnes were happy with American Pharoah’s training: “Everything was great this morning – no problem,” Alvarez said. “He looked real professional. This is good what they’re doing by closing the track for us and letting us train. That makes my job a lot easier.”

“You see everything that you expect to see,” Barnes said. “Nothing alarming; everything is super positive. This is absolutely normal going into any race the way that we’re doing. We have really nothing to deal with other than keeping him happy. Everything is going smooth.”

Another Belmont contender that was out for a morning gallop was Preakness Stakes (gr. I) runner-up Tale of Verve, who turned in an energetic gallop while under restraint at Belmont Park.

(special thanks to the New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs for filming and posting these videos of the Belmont Stakes contenders training at Belmont and Churchill!) 


With eight days remaining until the Belmont Stakes, here is the current list of expected starters:

Horse Jockey Trainer
American Pharoah Victor Espinoza Bob Baffert
Carpe Diem Unknown Todd Pletcher
Frammento Mike Smith Nick Zito
Frosted Joel Rosario Kiaran McLaughlin
Keen Ice Kent Desormeaux Dale Romans
Madefromlucky Unknown Todd Pletcher
Materiality Unknown Todd Pletcher
Mubtaahij Irad Ortiz, Jr. Mike de Kock
Tale of Verve Gary Stevens Dallas Stewart
The Truth Or Else Edgar Prado Kenny McPeek


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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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