Updated on 09/15/2011 12:18PM

Can't count Lukas out of Belmont


D. Wayne Lukas has been absent from this year's Triple Crown so far, but the trainer will be out to win the Belmont Stakes for the second straight year on June 9 at Belmont Park when he runs Buckle Down Ben in the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Buckle Down Ben earned his berth in the Belmont by virtue of his fast victory in a one-mile allowance race on Sunday at Churchill Downs. He will be trying to follow in the footsteps of Commendable, whose upset victory in last year's Belmont Stakes was the fourth in the race for Lukas.

Buckle Down Ben is one of nine 3-year-olds pointing for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont, which should feature a match between Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos and Preakness Stakes winner Point Given. Although the prospective field for the Belmont is small, it is quite strong. In addition to the Triple Crown race winners, the field is expected to include Derby runner-up Invisible Ink; Preakness runner-up A P Valentine; Thunder Blitz, who was fourth in the Derby; hard-luck horse Dollar Bill, who was a fast-finishing fourth in the Preakness; the speedy Balto Star, winner of the Arkansas Derby; and the talented European invader Dr Greenfield.

Buckle Down Ben covered one mile in 1:34.64 in his first start since the Turfway Spiral Stakes in March. He came out of the race well, Lukas said Monday.

"This should set us up good," he said. "In light of what I see this morning I feel better about it. He's fresh and he's doing good right now."

Buckle Down Ben is expected to be flown to New York next week along with Point Given and Dollar Bill.

Monarchos, with exercise rider Bryan Beccia up, breezed a half-mile in 49.17 seconds Sunday morning over a sloppy, sealed Belmont track. The move was done around a single set of dogs, or cones, used to protect the inside part of the track. Trainer John T. Ward Jr. caught the last eighth in 11.40 seconds in a move that was a tad faster than Ward was expecting.

Still, Ward was pleased with the work, which came eight days after Monarchos finished sixth behind Point Given in the Preakness. Ward said Monarchos would work five or six furlongs over the weekend.

On Saturday night at Lingfield outside London, Dr Greenfield worked seven furlongs under jockey Kieren Fallon over the all-weather surface. According to The Racing Post, Dr Greenfield edged clear of a workmate inside the final furlong and "was well in command at the end of the workout."

Barry Irwin, president of the Team Valor syndicate that owns Dr Greenfield, related the following conversation with trainer Gerard Butler after the move.

"What odds will this horse be in the Belmont?" Butler asked Irwin.

"I said, '20-1,' " Irwin said. "He said, 'Get down now.' "

Point Given was scheduled to work five furlongs on Tuesday at Churchill Downs. "I tell you what," his trainer, Bob Baffert said, effecting a Southern accent, "he's doing nice."

A P Valentine was scheduled to work five furlongs Tuesday at Belmont Park.

- additional reporting by David Grening