05/09/2013 4:08PM

Belmont Park: Merit Man pointing to Woody Stephens

Barbara D. Livingston
Merit Man hasn't raced since finishing third behind Orb in the Florida Derby.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Among the 15 horses trainer Bob Hess brought to New York for the spring meet is Merit Man, the third-place finisher behind Orb in the Florida Derby.

Hess said Merit Man is being pointed to the Woody Stephens at seven furlongs here on the Belmont undercard, June 8.
Hess said Merit Man has not started since the Florida Derby because “that was a tough race on him.”

Hess has wanted to work Merit Man but has been waiting until the track was to his liking. Heavy rain turned both the main track and training track into sloppy messes Wednesday and Thursday morning.

Last week was brutal for Hess, who had two horses suffer catastrophic injuries on back-to-back days.

On May 1, Spit Ball, a 4-year-old gelding that Hess and owner Roddy Valente won in a 23-way shake from a claiming race at Santa Anita on April 4, fractured both sesamoids in his left foreleg during a workout and was euthanized.

On May 2, Parasol, a $14,000 claimer, broke both his front legs during the running of the second race and had to be euthanized.

“It had been six years since I put a horse to sleep,” Hess said Thursday. “It was like having a two-day nightmare – embarrassing and disheartening. It can’t get any worse.”