05/24/2012 3:21PM

Belmont Stakes notes: Union Rags, Five Sixteen work

Jenny Burgos
Union Rags worked five furlongs in 1:01 over a fast dirt track Thursday at the Fair Hill training center.

At the Fair Hill training center in Maryland, Union Rags worked five furlongs in 1:01 over a fast dirt track, according to trainer Michael Matz. Union Rags worked by himself under exercise rider Peter Brette.

“He went real nice, galloped out real good and strong, came back, and cooled out real well,” Matz said.

Matz said he likens Fair Hill’s dirt surface to Belmont’s main track.

“It’s more sandy than clay,” Matz said. “I think these two tracks are similar.”

Union Rags has already proven himself over Belmont’s main track, having won last year’s Grade 1 Champagne here, beating Alpha, who also is scheduled to run in the Belmont. Birdstone, the 2003 Champagne winner, won the 2004 Belmont Stakes, stopping Smarty Jones’s Triple Crown bid.

[BELMONT STAKES: Video updates, expected field, early odds]

At Belmont on Thursday, longshot Five Sixteen worked five furlongs in 1:00.95 in company with the 3-year-old New York-bred maiden winner Live for Today.

Rosie Napravnik, who will ride Five Sixteen in the race, guided Five Sixteen through splits of 12.23 seconds. 24.00, and 35.62, meaning he got his last quarter in 25.33. Five Sixteen finished a neck in front of his workmate. He galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.85.

Five Sixteen, trained by Dominick Schettino, worked in blinkers, equipment he wore for the first time in his last race. Five Sixteen won a 1 1/8-mile maiden race March 14 without blinkers, but Schettino thought he wasn’t as focused as he should have been. In his first start against winners, with blinkers added, Five Sixteen finished fourth, beaten 11 3/4 lengths.

“He was fractious in the gate that day, I couldn’t tell you why,” said Schettino, who noted the horse also was anxious in the paddock and had the rail post. “We’ve had him back to the gate, schooled him in the paddock. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do so far.”

Ravelo’s Boy works at Calder

At Calder, Ravelo’s Boy worked four furlongs in 46.60, the fastest of 20 works at the distance over a track labeled wet fast, and now is under consideration for the Belmont, trainer Manny Azpurua said.

It was the second work for Ravelo’s Boy in five days. He is scheduled to work again Sunday, with Alex Solis aboard, after which Azpurua said he would make a decision regarding the Belmont.

Ravelo’s Boy has not run since finishing fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 10.

“He grabbed his heel leaving the gate in the race at Tampa, so I’ve taken my time and given it a chance to heal,” Azpurua said. “Now, he’s doing so good I’m thinking about running him in the Belmont.”

Steelcase to skip Belmont for Winn

At Churchill Downs in Louisville, trainer Mark Casse said Thursday he has withdrawn Stealcase from consideration for the Belmont and will run the colt instead in the June 16 Matt Winn at Churchill.

“We want to get him some confidence, and it looks like the Belmont is going to come up pretty tough,” Casse said. “We’re going to aim for the Travers.”

Stealcase was third in his last race, the April 28 Derby Trial at Churchill, and figured as a longshot in the Belmont.

[I’LL HAVE ANOTHER: Derby, Preakness winner runs for Triple Crown]

◗ While he hasn’t totally ruled out the Belmont Stakes for Rousing Sermon, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said Thursday he is “leaning in another direction,” for the horse who finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby.

◗ Julien Leparoux has been confirmed to ride Atigun in the Belmont Stakes, trainer Ken McPeek said via text. Leparoux, the former rider of Union Rags, rode Atigun to victory in a first-level allowance race on Derby Day.

Atigun as well as stablemate Unstoppable U, Alpha, Street Life, and Guyana Star Dweej are all scheduled to have workouts at Belmont on Saturday, weather permitting.

◗ Trainer Larry Jones all but ruled out Mark Valeski from the Belmont, having said several days ago the Peter Pan winner was highly doubtful. “It’d be really strange if we went,” Jones said. “I’d say there’s about a 0.44 percent chance we run.”

◗ Trainer Dale Romans said Dullahan will work after the break Saturday at Churchill, but that he hasn’t decided how far the work will be.

“It might be five or six [furlongs], maybe even a mile,” said Romans. “I haven’t decided.”

– additional reporting by Mike Welsch and Marty McGee