06/06/2016 2:06PM

Dozen set to face Exaggerator

Email
Barbara D. Livingston
Creator worked a half-mile on the Belmont Park training track Monday.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After a Triple Crown bid by California Chrome in 2014 and then a Triple Crown sweep by American Pharoah last year, there will not be a horse going for the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes when it is run for the 148th time on Saturday here at Belmont Park. But what is lost in drama will certainly be made up for in numbers, as it appears that 12 horses are set to take on the expected favorite, Exaggerator, who will try to add the Belmont to a résumé that includes a Preakness victory and a second-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

The field for the 1 1/2-mile Belmont increased by one on Monday when WinStar Farm announced that it would enter the longshot Gettysburg essentially to ensure a quick pace for the two better-regarded runners in which WinStar has an interest, Exaggerator and Creator. Both prefer to come from off the pace, and the Belmont had been shaping up as a relatively paceless race compared to the Derby and Preakness.

WinStar, owned by Kenny Troutt, has the breeding rights to Exaggerator, who had a routine gallop of 1 1/2 miles on Monday, though he did lose his left-hind shoe at some point during the exercise. He was to be shod prior to a scheduled workout on Tuesday.

“He looks like he’s put on weight since I left, and that includes some serious training sessions,” said trainer Keith Desormeaux, who arrived here Sunday night after attending to his horses at Santa Anita. His assistant Julie Clark has been with Exaggerator the whole time.

:: BELMONT STAKES: News updates, field, and videos

Creator, whom WinStar owns, completed his serious training for the Belmont with a half-mile workout on the Belmont Park training track on Monday that Daily Racing Form clocked in 50.93 seconds. Creator, under exercise rider Jesus Vinegas, went by himself shortly before 6 a.m. over a track rated “good.”

Creator was initially scheduled to work on the main track, but Toby Sheets – the New York-based assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen – called an audible owing to the wet condition of the main track following storms here on Sunday.

“I checked the main track this morning at 4:30, a quarter to 5, and was told there was a possibility the track would be harrowed at the break,” Sheets said at his barn, which is closer to the training track. “We decided to stay here. This track’s fine.”

Creator finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby after encountering severe trouble on the far turn. He will be ridden in the Belmont for the first time by Irad Ortiz Jr.

At Churchill Downs, another late runner, Suddenbreakingnews, turned in his final work for the Belmont when he went a half-mile in 49.40 seconds over a track rated “fast.”

Going after the regularly scheduled harrow break with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. aboard, Suddenbreakingnews went solo, galloping out in 1:02.80. Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has the Belmont mount.

“Put a little air in him,” said Rocco.

“I’d wanted 49 and change, so yeah, we’re good,” said Donnie K. Von Hemel, who trains Suddenbreakingnews for Sam F. Henderson. “I’m real happy with him. He’s kind of a lighter-made horse, which actually might be to his advantage in a long race like this. He won’t have to carry as much weight all the way around there.”

Suddenbreakingnews was fifth in the Kentucky Derby most recently after finishing second to Creator in the Arkansas Derby.

Suddenbreakingnews was booked on the Tuesday equine charter that was scheduled to transport a number of Kentucky-based runners to New York for the weekend races at Belmont Park. The flight was to depart Louisville International Airport at about noon Eastern.

Also from Churchill, Wild About Deb was scratched from the Tuesday charter after trainer Phil D’Amato said Sunday via text message that the colt will run instead in the June 25 Ohio Derby at Thistledown. Wild About Deb, third in the Peter Pan Stakes on May 14, had been under consideration for the Belmont.

In addition to Creator, Exaggerator, Gettysburg, and Suddenbreakingnews, the other nine expected to enter the Belmont are Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Destin, Forever d’Oro, Governor Malibu, Lani, Seeking the Soul, Stradivari, and Trojan Nation.

Entries for the Belmont are due Wednesday morning and will be drawn Wednesday at lunchtime in a ceremony at Rockefeller Center.

– additional reporting by David Grening, Marty McGee, and Mike Welsch

Potential Belmont Stakes Field
Horse Trainer Jockey Last Race
Brody's Cause Dale Romans Luis Saez Ky. Derby, 7th
Cherry Wine Dale Romans Corey Lanerie Preakness, 2nd
Creator Steve Asmussen Irad Ortiz, Jr. Ky. Derby, 13th
Destin Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano Ky. Derby, 6th
Exaggerator Keith Desormeaux Kent Desormeaux Preakness, 1st
Forever d'Oro Dallas Stewart Jose Ortiz Maiden, 1st
Gettysburg Steve Asmussen Paco Lopez Bel. alw, 3rd
Governor Malibu Christophe Clement Joel Rosario Peter Pan, 2nd
Lani Mikio Matsunaga Yutaka Take Preakness, 5th
Seeking The Soul Dallas Stewart Florent Geroux Maiden, 1st
Stradivari Todd Pletcher John Velazquez Preakness, 4th
Suddenbreakingnews Donnie Von Hemel Mike Smith Ky. Derby, 5th
Trojan Nation Paddy Gallagher Aaron Gryder Ky. Derby, 16th