06/03/2013 3:45PM

Belmont Stakes: Pletcher will have five runners

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Barbara D. Livingston
Todd Pletcher (right), with assistant Mike McCarthy (left) and WinStar’s Elliott Walden, watches his five Belmont Stakes probables work Sunday. The Belmont could have a field of 15 runners.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Trainer Todd Pletcher had five horses in the Kentucky Derby and was shut out, and he bypassed the Preakness Stakes altogether, but he is mounting another assault on the final leg of the Triple Crown, the 145th Belmont Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park. Pletcher has five runners in what, as of Monday, was shaping up as a 15-horse field.

Entries are due Wednesday morning, and post positions are to be drawn at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Belmont Park, and if 15 enter and run, that would mark the largest Belmont field since 15 ran in 1983. There were 15 entered in 1996, but, after one scratch, 14 ran. Though there is no Triple Crown on the line, the Belmont is expected to feature a rematch between Orb, the Derby winner, and Oxbow, the Preakness winner.

If 15 are entered, that would give Pletcher one-third of the field, after having more than one-fourth of the field (5 of 19) in the Derby. In the Preakness, it was Pletcher’s former boss, D. Wayne Lukas, who had one-third of the field, with three of the nine runners.

There might be strength in numbers, but in situations like this, the only number that matters is one – the right one. The best of Pletcher’s Derby contingent was Revolutionary, who finished third; at the Preakness, one of Lukas’s trio was Oxbow.

Pletcher’s show of force in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont is the confluence of several factors: He started out with several promising runners to begin with, is based at Belmont Park, and has owners who want to run in this race, most notably Mike Repole, who has the colts Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo and the filly Unlimited Budget in the race. Pletcher on Monday afternoon said Repole would leave the self-deprecatingly named Micromanage in the $150,000 Easy Goer Stakes on the Belmont undercard.

Revolutionary, owned by Kenny Troutt’s WinStar Farm, is back for Pletcher, as is Palace Malice, who is owned by the Dogwood Stable syndicate and, like Revolutionary, ran in the Derby – he was 12th – and skipped the Preakness to point for the Belmont.

All of Pletcher’s Belmont horses worked a half-mile Sunday. On Monday, they went to the training track for a light jog, and a visit to the starting gate, early enough so that they avoided the heavier rain that fell mid-morning.

Revolutionary is the most-accomplished of the quintet. In addition to his third-place finish in the Derby, Revolutionary won the Louisiana Derby and overcame a laughably bad trip to capture the Withers. He had five weeks between the Louisiana Derby and the Kentucky Derby and will have five weeks between the Derby and the Belmont.

“This was sort of the strategy we laid out after the Derby, to give him five weeks,” Pletcher said while watching Revolutionary shod with a new set of hind shoes Monday morning at his Belmont Park barn. “He’s not the kind of horse who needs heavy training. We’ve learned that about him as we’ve gone through the year.”

Pletcher has won the Belmont once, with Rags to Riches in 2007, so comparisons are naturally drawn to Unlimited Budget, who, like Rags to Riches, is a filly facing the boys. Unlimited Budget is a big, strong filly, but her dam side is not as stout as that of Rags to Riches, who is a half-sister to 2006 Belmont Stakes winner Jazil.

“That’s my biggest concern, that she stays that far,” Pletcher said. “How much they relax early, how they handle the early pace, will dictate how a lot of them will run in a race like this.”

[BELMONT STAKES: Probable field and latest updates] 

Palace Malice added blinkers for the Kentucky Derby, and though he worked in them before the race and was manageable that morning, he was uncontrollable in the race itself, setting a brisk pace he could not maintain. The blinkers will come off for the Belmont, but jockey Mike Smith will remain on.

“I had cautioned Mike before the race that the horse hadn’t broken well in his previous starts, so to not assume he would break well,” Pletcher said. “We wanted him to stalk. Mike gigged him a little getting away from the gate, but the horse never settled back down. I think it was a situation with the huge crowd and the sloppy track, that once he got going he wouldn’t come back. Mike tried to get him to come back, but after a while, rather than fight him, he had to let him go.”

In addition to Pletcher’s quintet, plus Orb and Oxbow, the Belmont field is expected to include Always in a Tiz, Frac Daddy, Freedom Child, Giant Finish, Golden Soul, Incognito, Vyjack, and Will Take Charge.

Frac Daddy was confirmed as a Belmont starter Monday by trainer Kenny McPeek, who said Alan Garcia would ride.

Pletcher said Garrett Gomez would ride Midnight Taboo. Vyjack will be ridden by Julien Leparoux, according to owner David Wilkenfeld.

Giant Finish – who traveled by van to Belmont Park on Sunday from the Fair Hill training center in Maryland – and Vyjack were both scheduled to work Monday, but their works were postponed because of the wet weather.

Oxbow and Will Take Charge, both trained by Lukas, were scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park on Monday evening following a lengthy van ride from Churchill Downs.

Frac Daddy and Golden Soul were scheduled to fly from Kentucky to New York on Tuesday. They would be the last of the expected Belmont runners to arrive.

It rained all morning Monday, sometimes quite heavily, and thunderstorms were forecast by The Weather Channel for Monday night. It was expected to be dry Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. But a new round of wet weather was predicted to move into the area again Friday, when a 50 percent chance of thunderstorms is forecast. The outlook is worse for Saturday, with a 60 percent chance of showers. The high temperature will be in the mid- to low-70s all week, according to The Weather Channel.

− additional reporting by David Grening

Jorge Cardoso Contreras More than 1 year ago
ORB por mucho el mejor en el Belmont Stakes no obstante el enemigo que lo monta...
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
Team Todd Pletcher, keep the filly in the barn this Saturday afternoon and keep her safe. Not a good idea against 13 boys on a sloppy track.
Surasak More than 1 year ago
Orb lost because jockey and trainer's over confidence, they think that they have superior horse which Orb already won 5 races in the row. They should have strategies 1,2,3 if and when ...how the race pan out, it seems to me they have none, though on Friday prior Preakness day was obvious that the rail acted like quick sand as Gary Steven said, also on Saturday prior races resulted also obvious. They forgot that Orb is not a machine!! I lost 8 dollars waiting on Orb for my pick 3!
Maynard More than 1 year ago
Lucas' rabbit did not vie for the lead. Instead, he was sacrificed in order to pin Orb on the rail. Perfectly legal and it worked. By the time Orb finally could have gotten out he was tired out. The track condition was another factor in the final outcome. Orb started to make his run and did get up to get fourth. Both Orb and Freedom Child will benefit from rain on Saturday.
Infinity More than 1 year ago
More rain...unbelievable..just like my derby washout. Saving payroll for the fall & BC. Bet the other O named colt........
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
you know its nothing new, pletcher has always run multiple horses. Baffert is the same way, look at that one race where he had 4 of the 5 horses in a race at santa anita. he practically had that race in the bag
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Just box Pletchers horse's , then head to the pay window. See......this game aint hard!
Terry Dickens More than 1 year ago
pletcher couldnt win a race if he had 11 horses in a race out of a field of 12
You Feel Lucky More than 1 year ago
Cant win a race? ....Ashado, English Channel, Fleet Indian, Lawyer Ron, Left Bank, Rags to Riches, Speighstown, etc, etc, etc. Ever heard of these? Hmmm...yea I think he can win a race.
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
I think you forgot to watch any three year old prep races :P
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
I meant to address Terry Dickens' comment
colin More than 1 year ago
hes such an easy guy to cheer against,i think he has silver spoon itus
Holybull More than 1 year ago
LOL He will be lucky to hit the board.
Ann Maree More than 1 year ago
The rain bodes well for Orb, and we all know what he can do on a wet track.
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
Freedom Child doesnt mind the slop either, should turn out to be an interesting race
DavidC More than 1 year ago
After several reviews of the projected Belmont stakes field and following the workout progress of the potential runners I've made my sessions of runners that in reality comes to be a case that it's anybody's race and that the fitness horse and a good trip is all that is need !. However, I like Freedom Child and Giant finish as the one's that will be coming strong down the land late for the win ! .
Sharjil Ahmad More than 1 year ago
One has to like Freedom Child. He looks like a monster. I think people are really discounting Palice Malice in here too. I dont know how he will perfrom, but he looks like in supreme physical condition. I agree, its an open race. Anyone can win. May be the pedigree of one overpowers the conditioning of the other, or vice versa.
David Sias More than 1 year ago
Well said.
Terry Dickens More than 1 year ago
freedom child is a front runner u big dummy
michael stapler More than 1 year ago
Probably why you LOSE all the time. ....A front runner can't be strong down the lane. If you learn anything from this post, please learn that , "tis better to bet speed, as closers generally are always coming and never get there." It's all about the Pace. ...............Still cashing tix on Oxbow.
Joe Rockhold More than 1 year ago
Sorry, but there was no way to foresee Oxbow on an uncontested lead with those fractions. There were at least 2 horses with more early speed than him in that race and for whatever reason they didn't show their speed at all. Had Oxbow been a lone frontrunner on paper he wouldn't have been 13-1. Glad you won big though!