06/05/2017 2:56PM

Belmont Doings: Gormley makes it 13

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Debra A. Roma
Gormley, ninth in the Kentucky Derby, was confirmed for the Belmont Stakes on Monday afternoon.

ELMONT, N.Y. – The Belmont Stakes won’t have the Kentucky Derby winner, nor the Preakness winner, but it won’t have a shortage of entries, with a bulky field 13 set to contest the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown on Saturday here at Belmont Park.

Gormley, the Santa Anita Derby winner who was ninth in the Kentucky Derby, was officially put in the race Monday, according to Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs, the wife of trainer John Shirreffs and the racing manager for owners Jerry and Ann Moss.

“He deserves the opportunity,” she said early Monday evening.

If all 13 run, this year’s field size would be equal to the 13 who contested the Belmont a year ago. Barring a rash of unexpected defections or scratches, this will mark the eighth time in the last nine runnings that the Belmont field has 10 starters or more, the lone exception being 2015, when just seven horses tried, and failed, to stop American Pharoah from sweeping the Triple Crown.

John Shirreffs and Moss consulted Monday with B. Wayne Hughes of Spendthrift Farm regarding whether to run Gormley, and all were on the same page. Spendthrift holds the breeding rights to Gormley and it is where Gormley will go to stud at the conclusion of his racing career. Gormley is by Malibu Moon, who stands at Spendthrift and, at age 20, is still quite active but obviously is closer to the end of his breeding career than the beginning. Gormley is his best current runner, and Malibu Moon’s son Orb has been well received at stud.

Gormley is scheduled to fly to New York on Wednesday, which is when all the horses in the race must be on the grounds. The likely favorite for the Belmont, Classic Empire, was scheduled to travel Tuesday. Classic Empire, last year’s champion 2-year-old male, was second in the Preakness after finishing fourth in the Derby. He and Lookin At Lee are the only two horses who will compete in all three Triple Crown races this year.

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Always Dreaming, the Kentucky Derby winner who was eighth in the Preakness, and Preakness winner Cloud Computing are both bypassing the Belmont. The last time different horses won the Derby and Preakness and neither ran in the Belmont was 2010.

The Belmont field, including jockeys, is expected to be Classic Empire (Julien Leparoux the rider), Epicharis (Christophe Lemaire), Gormley (Victor Espinoza), Hollywood Handsome (Florent Geroux), Irish War Cry (Rajiv Maragh), J Boys Echo (Robby Albarado), Lookin At Lee (Irad Ortiz Jr.), Meantime (Mike Smith), Multiplier (Joel Rosario), Patch (John Velazquez), Senior Investment (Channing Hill), Tapwrit (Jose Ortiz), and Twisted Tom (Javier Castellano).

The draw for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is scheduled for midday Wednesday at Rockefeller Center in New York City, during which the Met Mile and Manhattan, part of the outstanding Belmont undercard, also will be drawn. The remainder of the Saturday card was scheduled to be drawn on Tuesday.

It was a fairly uneventful morning on Monday at Belmont Park. Among the highlights were Epicharis, the Japanese invader, visiting the starting gate for a schooling session after galloping on the training track, and Senior Investment, third in the Preakness, jogging 1 1/2 miles and then galloping 1 1/2 miles on the main track in advance of an expected final workout on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee worked a half-mile in 48.42 seconds over the Belmont main track, his only work between the Preakness, where he finished fourth, and the Belmont.

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Working by himself under exercise rider Jesus Vinegas, Lookin At Lee got his last quarter in 23.90 seconds over a fast main track on a gorgeous morning on Long Island.

“That’s a very good breeze for him,” said trainer Steve Asmussen, who was in Texas for his eldest son Keith’s high school graduation. “With him having just the one breeze, we feel good about him.”

Toby Sheets, Asmussen’s longtime New York assistant, oversaw the move. Lookin At Lee arrived in New York the day after the Preakness, and Sheets said, “He loves it here.”

– additional reporting by David Grening

BELMONT STAKES CONTENDERS
HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY LAST RACE/FINISH
Classic Empire  Mark Casse Julien Leparoux Preakness, 2nd
Epicharis Kiyoshi Hagiwara Christophe Lemaire UAE Derby, 2nd
Gormley John Shirreffs Victor Espinoza Ky. Derby, 9th
Hollywood Handsome Dallas Stewart Florent Geroux CD alw, 1st
Irish War Cry Graham Motion Rajiv Maragh Ky. Derby, 10th
J Boys Echo Dale Romans Robby Albarado Ky. Derby, 15th
Lookin At Lee Steve Asmussen Irad Ortiz, Jr. Preakness, 4th
Meantime Brian Lynch Mike Smith Peter Pan, 2nd
Multiplier Brendan Walsh Joel Rosario Preakness, 6th
Patch Todd Pletcher John Velazquez Ky. Derby, 14th
Senior Investment Kenny McPeek Channing Hill Preakness, 3rd
Tapwrit Todd Pletcher Jose Ortiz Ky. Derby, 6th
Twisted Tom Chad Brown Javier Castellano Tesio, 1st