05/17/2009 11:00PM

Two work with the Belmont as goal


ELMONT, N.Y. - It remains to be seen whether the presence or absence of Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra has an impact on the field for the 141st Belmont Stakes on June 6. It will have no impact on Dunkirk or Chocolate Candy, both of whom put in workouts Monday morning for expected starts in the third leg of the Triple Crown.

Dunkirk, who finished 11th as the 5-1 second betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, worked four furlongs in 47.37 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form, over the main track. It was the first breeze for Dunkirk since the Derby, a race from which he emerged with a grabbed quarter in a hind hoof and some superficial cuts.

Todd Pletcher, the trainer of Dunkirk, said his horse has healed up nicely since the Derby, and that he was very pleased with Monday's move, which was done in company with Munnings, runner-up from last year's Grade 1 Champagne Stakes. Dunkirk, with exercise rider Hector Ramos in the irons, worked outside of Munnings, under John Velazquez, starting about a half-length behind, before eagerly getting on even terms with him. Dunkirk galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.32, a little bit ahead of Munnings.

"I didn't think I needed to gauge anything, but it was nice to see him go out there and breeze well," Pletcher said. "He was against the bridle, doing it very easily. He looks like he's in form."

As of Monday, Pletcher had not yet confirmed a rider for Dunkirk. Garrett Gomez, who rode Dunkirk to a second-place finish in the Florida Derby, chose to ride Pioneerof the Nile in the Derby. Edgar Prado rode Dunkirk in Kentucky.

Pletcher said he hoped to have a rider confirmed this week after consulting with owners Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, and Susan Magnier.

Moments after Dunkirk completed his work, Chocolate Candy, the fifth-place finisher in the Derby, worked six furlongs in 1:13.47 with Gomez up. Daily Racing Form timed Chocolate Candy in fractions of 12.51, 24.57, 36.58 ,and 48.33 seconds and caught him pulling up seven furlongs in 1:27.20.

"We're particularly happy with the way he's handling Belmont racetrack," trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said. "We're optimistic that he's doing very well."

Hollendorfer is seeking a new rider because Mike Smith, who rode Chocolate Candy in the Derby, is committed to ride Madeo in the Charlie Whittingham at Hollywood Park on Belmont Day. Hollendorfer said Gomez would be his first choice to ride Chocolate Candy, though he has not asked for a commitment.

"If they want to ride our horse they're going to ride him," Hollendorfer said. "If they don't then the obvious reason would be they think they have something else that would do better in that race. We have a lot of riders that are interested in riding Chocolate Candy, and we respect all of them, but Garrett's going to be the first choice."

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Monday that he would like to run Peter Pan winner Charitable Man in the Belmont and conveyed that sentiment in an e-mail correspondence with owner William Warren, who finished second in last year's Belmont with Dennis of Cork.

"It is probably the thing to do," McLaughlin said by phone Monday from Monmouth Park, where he has a stable this spring. "He's a fresh horse, he's a very nice horse, and will get the distance. If we wait until the Dwyer [July 4], you never know what might happen if a Quality Road shows up, or a Regal Ransom shows up, or others show up."

McLaughlin said that Alan Garcia would most likely ride.

As of Monday, other probable Belmont Stakes starters included Flying Private, Mine That Bird, Miner's Escape, Mr. Hot Stuff and Summer Bird. Luv Gov is possible. Summer Bird, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, was expected to arrive at Belmont Park on Tuesday from Louisiana Downs where last Friday he worked five furlongs in 1:02.

Gitano Hernando to miss Belmont

One horse withdrawn from consideration for the Belmont is the European-based Gitano Hernando, who finished second in the Dee Stakes in England on May 8. According to Barry Irwin, head of the Team Valor International syndicate which owns the horse, Gitano Hernando came out of the race lame.

"He will need to walk for about three weeks, which eliminates him from the [Belmont]," Irwin said. "We plan to point him for grass racing this summer on the East Coast."

Quality Road still not training

Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner who missed the Kentucky Derby with a quarter crack in his right front foot, remains out of training. He has simply walked the shed row since May 8 and will likely not resume training before Friday, trainer Jimmy Jerkens said.

Jerkens said Quality Road could get a new patch on his quarter crack on Thursday. Jerkens said it is still undecided what type of shoes Quality Road will get when he is reshod.

"No sense shoeing him until he gets a patch on," Jerkens said. "He had a pretty good wall separation. That's what's taken so long."

Light Green to aim for Prioress

While owner Ed Evans waits for Quality Road to make it back, he certainly has something to look forward to with his 3-year-old filly Light Green, who romped to an eight-length victory in last Friday's Fall Aspen Stakes at Belmont.

Light Green, trained by Todd Pletcher, ran six furlongs in 1:08.32, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 107.

"I thought her allowance win at Gulfstream was kind of a breakthrough performance," trainer Todd Pletcher said, referring to a 6 1/2-length win at Gulfstream on April 11

Pletcher said that while he would like to stretch Light Green out in distance eventually, her next start would be in the Grade 1 Prioress at six furlongs here on July 4.

Pletcher said that Affirmatif, who won the Woodlawn Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day, will likely run back in the Grade 3, $100,000 Hill Prince Stakes on June 5.

Parading may go to Hollywood

Among the options trainer Shug McGaughey is considering for Parading, winner of Saturday's Dixie Stakes, is the $700,000 Hollywood Gold Cup at Hollywood Park July 11. Though Parading has won 5 of 12 starts on turf, he ran an exceptionally strong race on Keeneland's Polytrack, winning the Ben Ali by seven lengths last month.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to Kent [Desormeaux] yet to see which surface he might prefer," McGaughey said.

Meanwhile, Dancing Forever, winner of the Manhattan Stakes last year, worked five furlongs in 1:03.19 over Belmont's turf course Monday. Three sets of orange cones were up on the turf, forcing all workouts to be conducted beyond the middle of the course.

McGaughey said he is keeping his options open for Dancing Forever, who has not run since finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Turf last October at Santa Anita.