05/31/2013 12:56PM

Belmont Stakes workouts: Orb, Vyjack among group of easy gallopers

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Tom Keyser
Freedom Child, shown winning the Peter Pan, made a good visual impression while jogging about three miles Friday morning at Belmont Park.

Belmont Park

75 degrees, Sunny, fast

ELMONT, N.Y. – As was the case the previous morning at Churchill Downs, the weather was unseasonably warm and humid in New York and, not surprisingly, the majority of this year’s Belmont Stakes prospects were out early and back in their stalls prior to the renovation break Friday at Belmont Park. That group included Kentucky Derby winner Orb, as well as all five of trainer Todd Pletcher’s Belmont prospects.

Friday marked the first time I had an opportunity to see Orb since he left the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle four weeks ago. From a visual standpoint, he looked well and very sound, although he certainly was far less aggressive during a routine 1 1/2-mile gallop once around the Belmont oval than he had been on a daily basis in the week leading up to the Derby. Trainer Shug McGaughey explained later that Orb’s easy morning was by design, since he had two-minute licked the final half-mile during Thursday’s training session.

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Unlimited Budget galloped in the first set. Her stablemates Palace Malice, Revolutionary, and Overanalyze all went in the second set for Pletcher on Friday. All four turned in very easy, very routine 1 1/2-mile gallops with nothing special to report on any of their training sessions. Palace Malice, without the blinkers he trained in on occasion and raced in on Derby Day, looked the best of the boys coming down the stretch at the completion of his gallop.

Peter Pan winner Freedom Child made a great appearance on the track and had the busiest morning of all the Belmont hopefuls. A big, strapping colt, Freedom Child jogged 1 1/2 miles the wrong way, reversed direction, and galloped an easy six furlongs to the head of the backstretch. He then jogged another half-mile returning to the gap at the top of the stretch. Freedom Child was a little hot coming home, and rightly so, considering the weather conditions and the fact he had just jogged/galloped nearly three miles for trainer Tom Albertrani.

Vyjack was a surprise visitor to the racetrack during the closing stages of Friday’s training session, coming onto the course about 9:30 a.m. after having vanned over from trainer Rudy Rodriguez’s regular base at Aqueduct. With Rodriguez aboard and equipped in the hackamore bridle he trained in regularly prior to the Derby, Vyjack galloped a very easy 1 3/8 miles while getting a feel for the track and the unfamiliar surroundings at Belmont. Rodriguez was able to keep Vyjack closer to the rail than normal, for gallopers, with the racetrack nearly deserted at the time. Vyjack was a little stiff to begin, but appeared to be striding out much smoother coming down the lane while remaining remarkably cool considering the prevailing conditions at that time of the morning. Vyjack reportedly worked six furlongs at Aqueduct on Tuesday, although the breeze was not seen by the track clocker and will not appear in his past performances on Belmont Day.