Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine Breeze for Belmont Stakes

Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine Breeze for Belmont Stakes

Brody’s Cause breezing at Churchill Downs on May 28th – Coady Photography

Trainer Dale Romans had a busy morning at Churchill Downs, sending out Belmont Stakes (gr. I) contenders Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine to post workouts in advance of the June 11th classic at Belmont Park.

Brody’s Cause, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) and most recently seventh in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), went a mile in 1:42 flat, starting off with fractions of :37.60, :49.80, 1:02.40, and 1:28.80 before continuing past the wire through nine furlongs in 1:56.40. Cherry Wine, who finished second in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) just one week ago, had an easier workout, going four furlongs in :49.60 with fractions of :12.60 and :37.40 and a five-furlong gallop-out time of 1:03 flat.

“I wanted a lot of heavy lifting done before we go up (to Belmont),” Romans was quoted as saying in a Churchill Downs press release. “We want to get an easy work next week up there and just back off a little bit and get them used to being out on the racetrack for as long as it was going to take for them to go a mile-and-a-half around those big turns. You never know what kind of track you’re going to get. It’s either going to be really sandy or if you get natural rain it could be tight.”

Regarding Cherry Wine’s workout, Romans said “I normally wouldn’t work a horse back in a week but he’s been doing so well. Cherry Wine will run on concrete, he’ll run on mud, he’ll run on gravel, it doesn’t make any difference. It wasn’t the mud that moved him up [in the Preakness], he’s a good horse. He’s a good horse that’ll run on anything.

“[Hall of Fame trainer] Allen Jerkens once told me, ‘They’ll naturally go a mile-and-an-eighth, but you have to teach them to go a mile-and-a-half and that’s what we’re working on this morning,” Romans said. “You just got to get them mentally ready to be focused for as long as it takes to run a mile-and-a-half.”

According to Romans, his approach to doing this is simple: “Keep them on the racetrack for a while,” Romans said. “Whether it’s jogging or galloping, that’s what I’ve always done. We’ve run [in the Belmont] seven times and have four thirds so I’m kind of lost at sea, stuck in average. I’d love to have that big trophy and then we can focus on one more.”

Romans is confident that Cherry Wine has the pedigree to handle the Belmont distance. “He’ll go the mile-and-a-half,” Romans said “He’s probably bred to go the mile-and-a-half better than anyone in the race.”

Regarding Brody’s Cause’s finish in the Kentucky Derby, Romans said “He didn’t have one concern other than that he got into a little bit of trouble. You’re going to do that when you try to pass that many horses. It was a fast run Derby and 30,000 horses are born every year and we were seventh out of 20 so I’m proud of him. He finished up well so these last five weeks I’ve been training him like he wants to go a mile-and-a-half and have been trying to teach him how to do it, so today’s work was spectacular. He just went around there real easy.”

Although both Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine are late-running horses that could be compromised by a slow pace in the Belmont, Romans is confident that they’ll run well, and is even pondering strategy changes to fit the Belmont pace.

“In a game where you get beat 85 percent of the time, you better be halfway arrogant when you enter a horse, so I think they have a big shot,” Romans said. “Brody has already proven to be the best of the two so far – he beat him – but Cherry is taking a step forward. It’ll be interesting; I don’t know which one we’re going to like the best. Maybe we’ll pull off a Black-Eyed Susan [referring to Romans finishing 1-2 in the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes on May 20th.]

“I’ll put them on the lead if there’s no speed. What’s the difference?” Romans said of the possible slow pace in the Belmont Stakes. “These horses will do anything. They’ll take any cue from their jockeys. We took Cherry Wine way further back than we normally would’ve just rolling the dice with those horses in the race that they were going to go fast and collapse. If they didn’t, we probably wouldn’t get anything, we’d be stuck in no man’s land. That’s what I didn’t want to happen. I didn’t want to get stuck fifth all the way around there, I wanted to be 30 (lengths) out of it and then I gave the instructions to ride like Mine That Bird in the (2009) Kentucky Derby and that’s exactly what he did. Only thing he didn’t do was make sure he caught the last one.”

Brody’s Cause and Cherry Wine are expected to ship to Belmont Park on May 31st, with their final pre-Belmont breezes to come on June 4th.

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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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