Updated on 06/11/2011 12:24PM

Belmont Stakes latest stop on Master of Hounds's world tour

Barbara D. Livingston
Master of Hounds, training before his fifth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby, makes his second trip to the U.S. in five weeks.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Master of Hounds arrived just days before the Kentucky Derby, then left town the day after his fifth-place finish in the race, bound for his home in Ireland, where he has been out of sight in the weeks leading to the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.

He returned to the United States on Tuesday for another hit-and-run mission. Yet because of his schedule, he is by far the least-scrutinized of the 12 horses entered on Wednesday in the Belmont.

Just what has he been doing?

“He’s had fast work twice a week every week,” T.J. Comerford, the traveling lad who brought Master of Hounds to Kentucky and then here to New York, said Wednesday morning at Belmont Park. “It’s the same schedule he had for the Kentucky Derby. He came out of it well. And we think the distance of the Belmont will suit him.”

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Comerford works for Aidan O’Brien, the brilliant Irish trainer who has been on fire in recent weeks in Europe. O’Brien will not be at the Belmont.

Master of Hounds has had an ambitious travel schedule in his young career. He came to the United States last fall for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, in which he finished sixth, then earlier this year was sent to Dubai, where he just missed in the United Arab Emirates Derby. Since then, he has made two trips to the United States. So, even though he is based in Ireland, he hasn’t raced there in his last four starts.

Master of Hounds has his first gallop on the Belmont track Thursday.

“He went straight home the day after the Derby,” Comerford said. “Stable to stable, it’s just a 12-hour trip.”

After arriving in New York on Tuesday, Master of Hounds had to do his United States Department of Agriculture quarantine at Aqueduct, but he was scheduled to be sent by van to Belmont Park on Thursday morning and was to gallop over the surface here both Thursday and Friday mornings, Comerford said.

“He’ll jog one lap and then gallop one lap,” Comerford said.

Comerford said there is no dirt surface on which to train at O’Brien’s Ballydoyle training center in Ireland, so Master of Hounds has been training on a wood-chip surface. The Derby marked his first start on dirt.

“It was a big guess on the day as to how he would do,” Comerford said. “Garrett Gomez was very happy with his race, and said if we ran in the Belmont, he’d love to ride him. He was ninth turning into the straight and finished fifth. The reason we are here is because he ran well in the Derby.”

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