05/30/2013 10:12AM

Belmont Stakes workouts: Golden Soul puts in efficient drill

Churchill Down/Reed Palmer Photography
Golden Soul works five furlongs in 1:00.36 on Thursday morning at Churchill Downs.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The road to the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown, from the standpoint of Daily Racing Form clocker reports, starts at the same place this whole journey first began, at Churchill Downs, where three potential Belmont Stakes starters including Preakness winner Oxbow worked Thursday morning.

The racetrack was fast and the skies were clear, but it was unseasonably warm and humid from the time the track first opened at 5:45 a.m. Will Take Charge and Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul both worked before dawn, with Oxbow held back by trainer D. Wayne Lukas until after the renovation nearly three hours later.

Churchill Downs
74 degrees, sunny, fast

Work of the day

Golden Soul (five furlongs in 1:00.36): Just as he did a little more than a week out from the Derby, Golden Soul earned work of the day honors. As usual, he made a nice appearance on the racetrack, first jogging the wrong way with the pony and then after reversing direction and heading to the pole. He was nice and relaxed breaking off at the five-eighths marker, quickly settling into a smooth rhythm, completing his opening quarter in 24.70 seconds and three-eighths in 36.68. He changed leads on cue while hugging the fence into the stretch and then finished willingly without the need of any encouragement, completing his final quarter in 23.82 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.18 and pulling up seven-eighths in 1:28.30. Nothing really flashy here, but certainly a very efficient-looking drill and one that is perhaps indicative of the fact he’ll be able to stay the 1 1/2 miles on Belmont Day.

[BELMONT STAKES: Probable field and latest updates]

Oxbow (six furlongs in 1:14.08): As was the case in the days leading up to his strong performance in the Derby, Oxbow did not look very comfortable jogging alongside the pony prior to his work. He also was a little rank breaking off at the 5 1/2-furlong pole, with his head cocked outward slightly in the run down the backstretch. He did seem to level off well on the turn and held the rail quite nicely turning into the stretch, something he was unable to do in his final Derby work, while posting three-furlong and half-mile splits of 35.88 and 47.76, respectively. But from the top of the stretch to and through the wire, the Preakness winner began to struggle and had to be put to pressure on several occasions, completing his final quarter in a disappointing 26.32 before galloping out seven-eighths in a slow 1:29.34. This is one hard horse to gauge as he obviously ran much better than he appeared to have trained in the two weeks leading up to the Derby before showing continued improvement with his victory in the Preakness. It will be interesting to see how he handles the Belmont strip once arriving in New York early next week.

Will Take Charge (six furlongs in 1:15.67): Like Oxbow, his work also was structured by Lukas to begin at the 5 1/2-furlong pole and take him through and beyond the wire to 7 1/2-furlong marker. Will Take Charge seemed to settle in nicely during the early stages, going along at an even clip with a series of 12-and-2-second eighth-mile splits as he approached the stretch. But he also labored while in need of urging both approaching the wire and continuing on into the clubhouse turn. His final three-eighths split of 38.54 was more than a full second slower than the opening three-eighths of :37.13, certainly not the most encouraging of signs for a horse preparing to go 1 1/2 miles in the Belmont Stakes.