Updated on 06/04/2011 9:11AM

Belmont Stakes: If first seven Derby finishers start, it will be a record

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Barbara D. Livingston
Mucho Macho Man will get a new rider, Ramon Dominguez, for the June 11 Belmont Stakes.

Animal Kingdom, Nehro, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Master of Hounds, Santiva, and Brilliant Speed were the first seven across the wire in the Kentucky Derby on May 7, and if all come back, as now scheduled, on June 11 in the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, it will mark the first time ever that the first seven finishers in the Derby also competed in the Belmont Stakes.

The Derby was run for the 137th time this year, and the Belmont, the final leg of the Triple Crown, is being run for the 143rd time. That’s quite a bit of racing history for something never to have occurred before. And yet 1 1/2 weeks out from the Belmont, there is the strong chance history could be made.

BELMONT STAKES: Replays, contenders, and news updates

In fact, the first six in the Derby never have all run in the Belmont.

In both 1949 and 1950, the first five finishers in the Derby ran in the Belmont. In the 1950 Derby, there was a dead heat for fifth. One of the horses in that dead heat, Hawley, came back in the Belmont, but the other horse, Oil Capital, did not.

Only 5 1/2 lengths separated the first seven finishers in this year’s Derby. Brilliant Speed, who bypassed the Preakness, on Wednesday remained on course for a start in the Belmont with a five-furlong work in 1:03.11 on a humid morning at Belmont Park.

“He went good,” his trainer, Tom Albertrani, said by telephone. “He broke off a little slow, but he finished up well. We weren’t looking for much.”
Brilliant Speed closed from 16th in the 19-horse Derby.

“I thought he ran well in the Derby,” Albertrani said. “He didn’t have a dream trip. He got pinched back early on, then came with his run. I thought it was a good race overall.”

Joel Rosario, who rode Brilliant Speed in the Derby and to his victory in the Blue Grass Stakes, will be back aboard for the Belmont, Albertrani said.
Shackleford, who won the Preakness Stakes after finishing fourth in the Derby, will work on Saturday at Belmont Park, and “if he works good, he’ll be there for sure,” trainer Dale Romans said Wednesday.

Shackleford galloped 1 1/2 miles at Belmont Park on Wednesday morning. It was his second day on the track there since arriving from Churchill Downs, where Shackleford returned following the May 21 Preakness.

“He’s acting good,” Romans said by telephone. “He jogged one day, and galloped one day, but so far, so good.”

Shackleford, Derby winner Animal Kingdom, and Mucho Macho Man are all attempting to compete in all three legs of the Triple Crown.

Ramon Dominguez, last year’s Eclipse Award-winning jockey, will ride Mucho Macho Man in the Belmont, his agent, Steve Rushing, informed on Wednesday.

Rajiv Maragh rode Mucho Macho Man in his last four starts – a victory in the Risen Star Stakes, a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, and a sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

Prime Cut, Wilkinson now appear unlikely starters

At Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., trainer Neil Howard on Wednesday morning downplayed the chances of running either Prime Cut or Wilkinson in the Belmont.

Howard said he is “pretty likely” to run Prime Cut in the Matt Winn Stakes on the June 18 Stephen Foster undercard at Churchill. Meanwhile, entries were taken Wednesday for the $100,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown, and Wilkinson was among those entered.

“Those two horses, Animal Kingdom and Shackleford, both look like they’re holding up very well, and Nehro, skipping the Preakness, looks like he could be formidable,” said Howard. “I just thought these are the best options for us right now. Maybe we’ll catch up to them by the Travers.”

Howard also has another stakes-class 3-year-old in Machen, winner of the Derby Trial. Howard said he gave the colt “just a little bit of a busman’s holiday” and is on target with him for the July 2 Dwyer at Belmont.

– additional reporting by Marty McGee

Belmont Stakes probable starters:
Horse Trainer Last start
Animal Kingdom Graham Motion 2nd - Preakness
Brilliant Speed Tom Albertrani 7th - Ky. Derby
Isn’t He Perfect Doodnauth Shivmangal 9th - Preakness
Master of Hounds Aidan O'Brien 5th - Ky. Derby
Monzon Ignacio Correas IV 6th - Peter Pan
Mucho Macho Man Kathy Ritvo 6th - Preakness
Nehro Steve Asmussen 2nd - Ky. Derby
Ruler On Ice Kelly Breen 2nd - Federico Tesio
Santiva Eddie Kenneally 6th - Ky. Derby
Shackleford Dale Romans 1st - Preakness
Stay Thirsty Todd Pletcher 12th - Ky. Derby
     
Possibles:    
Harlan’s Hello Doodnauth Shivmangal 1st - Op. claiming