05/25/2014 11:54AM

Intense Holiday out of Belmont Stakes with injury

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Barbara Livingston
Intense Holiday is out of the Belmont Stakes after suffering an injury, which was discovered after a Sunday morning workout with Commissioner at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – On a morning when California Chrome had a routine two-mile gallop, five of his would-be challengers for the June 7 Belmont Stakes put in timed workouts at Belmont over tracks that had finally dried out after several days of rain. Unfortunately, one of those horses was injured and will not make the race.

Intense Holiday, winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes this winter, suffered a condylar fracture to his right foreleg while galloping out at the end of an in-company workout with Commissioner, also being pointed to the Belmont Stakes. Shortly before 11 a.m., Intense Holiday left Belmont by van to head to a New Jersey clinic where he will be operated on by noted equine surgeon Dr. Patty Hogan.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Intense Holiday, said the injury is not life-threatening, and after viewing the radiographs, he believes it will not be career-ending.

“On initial surveying of the radiographs I saw, I think it carries a good prognosis,” Pletcher said. “It’s premature until we have the surgery, but it’s non-life threatening, and I don’t think it’s career-threatening either.”

At 8:45 a.m., over a Belmont main track that had quickened considerably from earlier in the morning, Intense Holiday, under exercise rider Patti Krotenko, had worked a half-mile in 48.36 seconds, finishing about a half-length behind Commissioner, under Javier Castellano. The pair galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.77.

Just before Intense Holiday got off the track, Krotenko got off Intense Holiday, who then was walked onto an equine ambulance and vanned back to Pletcher’s barn. Pletcher said it was “particularly frustrating” since after Intense Holiday finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby, he underwent a thorough examination at the Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital and was given a clean bill of health.

“We did all the due diligence, ran all the tests, [which] indicated everything was ready to move forward. That’s why we chose to proceed to keep the Belmont in mind, which is frustrating,” said Pletcher, who actually gave brief consideration to running him in the Preakness.

Meanwhile, Pletcher said he was happy with Commissioner’s work. Commissioner, runner-up to Tonalist in the Peter Pan, galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.25 and seven furlongs in 1:28.30.

“I thought Commissioner breezed very well, traveled well throughout, was willing, seemed to get over the surface good,” Pletcher said.

Also working Sunday were Peter Pan winner Tonalist and Wood Memorial one-two finishers Wicked Strong and Samraat.

At 6 a.m., when the track was slower, Tonalist worked five furlongs in 1:01.94, breaking off at the half-mile pole and working a furlong past the wire. Tonalist worked in bar shoes on both front feet. Trainer Christophe Clement said that Tonalist shed the frogs on both front feet after his win May 10 in the Peter Pan Stakes.

“In the Peter Pan, he ran with Queens plates. He did not have bar shoes to protect him,” Clement said. “We’ll keep the bar shoes on until the Belmont Stakes. It’s not that big of a deal.”

Clement said Tonalist had some foot issues in Florida this winter and trained in bar shoes leading up to the Peter Pan, which he won over a sloppy track. He will wear regular shoes in the Belmont Stakes.

Wicked Strong, fourth in the Derby, breezed a mile over the Belmont training track in 1:39.57, going his first half-mile in 49.97 and his last half-mile in 49.60. He worked from the half-mile pole to the half-mile pole. Exercise rider Kelvin Pahal had Wicked Strong under mild encouragement during the final part of the work.

“I thought it was a good, nice stamina work for him. That’s what got him here so we figured we won’t change the format,” trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. “He worked last week [five furlongs in 1:01.80]. He worked faster than I wanted, and I thought he was too edgy, so I figured I’d keep him over here and work him around two turns just to simmer him down a little bit.”

Jerkens was referring to the fact he kept him on the training track as opposed to bringing him over to the main track, where he feared the horse might work too fast with the longer straightaways.

Samraat vanned over to Belmont from Aqueduct and worked a mile in 1:41.28, getting his final quarter in 24.11. He broke off from the 7 1/2-furlong pole.

“I wanted him to get on his belly down the lane,” trainer Rick Violette said. “He’s going to have to do that in two weeks.”

Earlier in the day, California Chrome galloped two miles over the main track, which finally dried out after several days of rain. Though visually it appeared as though he was going easy, assistant trainer Alan Sherman said, “He trained like a monster today, just keeps getting stronger.”

Ride On Curlin had a strong 1 1/2-mile gallop Sunday morning over the main track.

– additional reporting by Mike Vesce