Updated on 09/15/2011 12:19PM

Belmont luminaries loosen their legs

Michael J. Marten/Horsephotos
Preakness winner Point Given has stayed sharp in the morning throughout the Triple Crown campaign. He worked five furlongs Tuesday in 59.60.

Point Given and A P Valentine, the one-two finishers in the May 19 Preakness Stakes, both worked five furlongs on Tuesday morning in preparation for the June 9 Belmont Stakes, in which both colts will try to give their trainers their first Belmont victory.

A P Valentine and Point Given are among nine 3-year-olds expected for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Point Given is at Churchill Downs, where he will remain until flying to New York next week. With his regular exercise rider, Dana Barnes, aboard, he was timed in 59.60 seconds on a fast main track.

"He went off easy, the first eighth in 13 seconds. He just did it by himself," said Bob Baffert, who trains Point Given. "I didn't work him in company because I didn't want him to do too much."

Baffert said Point Given will work again early next week at Churchill before heading to New York. He said Point Given's constitution has served him well during the Triple Crown grind.

"It's nothing for him. I don't think he even lost a pound after the Preakness," Baffert said.

"We lost the gold medal," he added, referring to Point Given's Kentucky Derby flop, "but we got the silver and now we're going for the bronze."

Baffert has yet to win the Belmont's medal. He is 0 for 4 in the race, including heartbreaking losses with Triple Crown contenders Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet in 1998.

As with Baffert, Nick Zito, the trainer of A P Valentine, has won the Derby and Preakness, but not the Belmont. Zito is 0 for 10 in the Belmont, but he should have a big chance with A P Valentine, who has progressed well during the Triple Crown and could hit the Belmont at just the right time.

After a rough trip in the Derby, A P Valentine came back with a strong runner-up finish in the Preakness. In his first work since then, he breezed five furlongs at Belmont Park on Tuesday in 59.56 seconds with his regular exercise rider, Jamie Sanders.

The time was the second-fastest of the day for the distance, topped only by A P Valentine's Zito-trained stablemate, Albert the Great, who was timed in 59.02 seconds. Their works were recorded on a track that was fast, but still slightly dull from heavy rain over the weekend.

Zito delayed A P Valentine's work by a couple of hours to allow the track to dry out. A P Valentine usually goes to the track at 6:30 a.m., but he did not go out until 8:45, after the mid-morning renovation break.

Before the work, Zito said he expected A P Valentine to cover the distance in about 1:01 or 1:02, but he looked at the faster time as an indication that A P Valentine is thriving. He was under no encouragement from Sanders.

"She was just sitting there," Zito said of Sanders. "She was doing nothing. It's absolutely scary how easy he was going. They train themselves. I wanted 1:01 and change, 1:02, something easy. Jamie knows what she's doing. She's been with me for 13 years."

Monarchos, the Kentucky Derby winner, went back to the track for a 1 1/8-mile gallop on Tuesday morning at Belmont Park. He worked on Sunday and merely walked on Monday, his customary schedule following a workout.

Thunder Blitz, who finished fourth in the Derby, had a spirited two-mile gallop at Belmont Park, according to his trainer, Joe Orseno. "He's training like he's possessed," Orseno said. "He went the first mile in 2:07, the second in 2:01, and went the last half in 53 seconds. He doesn't want to pull up."

Orseno said Thunder Blitz might have a "little maintenance move" this weekend. Balto Star and Invisible Ink are scheduled for workouts early Sunday morning at Belmont Park, according to their trainer, Todd Pletcher.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson