06/06/2016 2:06PM

Gettysburg joins Belmont Stakes field; likely to set pace

Barbara D. Livingston
Gettysburg trains Monday morning at Belmont Park. He will be the likely pacesetter in Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

ELMONT, N.Y. – Handicappers will no longer have to guess who will be on the lead early in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

Gettysburg, whose best races have come when he was on the lead, was added to the Belmont Stakes field Monday, according to Elliott Walden, president, chief executive, and racing manager for WinStar Farm, which owns Gettysburg. WinStar also owns Creator and holds the breeding rights to Preakness winner Exaggerator, a pair of late runners who are both running in the Belmont.

Gettysburg will be trained by Steve Asmussen for the Belmont. Asmussen is the trainer of Creator, who won the Arkansas Derby and finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby. Gettysburg had made his previous seven starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, who has two other horses in the Belmont – Stradivari and Destin – for other clients.

“When you start talking strategies and a trainer has multiple horses in the race, it can get a little confusing sometimes,” Walden said. “The fact Steve has Gettysburg and Creator and we’re his only owner takes out the conflict of having multiple horses in the race for different owners, and Todd was 100 percent behind it.”

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Paco Lopez will ride Gettysburg in the Belmont, Walden said.

Before the addition of Gettysburg to the field, it appeared as though either Stradivari or Destin could be the pacesetter in the Belmont, though neither horse had raced on the lead in their previous starts. Destin stalked Gettysburg in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and Outwork in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Stradivari, in his two wins prior to a fourth in the Preakness, won from a stalking position.

“In Destin’s case and in Stradivari’s case, both horses should put themselves in a good position where they can just settle, relax, and gallop along,” Pletcher said.

Walden wouldn’t use the term “rabbit” to describe Gettysburg’s presence in the Belmont Stakes, but he did note the difference in running styles of WinStar’s two horses.

“I think he complements Creator well, and there doesn’t look like there’s a lot of speed in the race, and he runs his best races on the lead,” Walden said of Gettysburg. “The two styles complement each other. I wouldn’t run two horses that both go to the lead.”

Gettysburg, a son of Pioneerof the Nile, is 1 for 7, his one win coming in front-running fashion at Gulfstream Park in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race. Following a fifth in the Sam F. Davis and a second in the Sunland Park Racing Festival Stakes, Gettysburg set the pace in the Arkansas Derby until midstretch – running six furlongs in 1:10.61 – before yielding late and finishing fifth. Creator rallied from last to win the Arkansas Derby.

In his most recent start May 26, Gettysburg finished third behind Gift Box in a first-level allowance race at Belmont when he could not make the lead.

On Sunday morning, Gettysburg worked a half-mile in 48.80 seconds over the Belmont Park training track.

The addition of Gettysburg brings the prospective Belmont Stakes field to 13: Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine, Creator, Destin, Exaggerator, Forever d’Oro, Gettysburg, Governor Malibu, Lani, Seeking the Soul, Stradivari, Suddenbreakingnews, and Trojan Nation.

Entries for the Belmont were to close Wednesday morning, and the draw for post positions was to be conducted during a lunchtime event Wednesday at Rockefeller Center.

On Monday, Trojan Nation, the maiden who finished second in the Wood Memorial in April, was flown from Southern California to New York. On Tuesday, Suddenbreakingnews and Seeking the Soul were scheduled to be flown from Kentucky to New York.

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