Updated on 09/15/2011 1:24PM

Ward anticipates facing Point Given again


ELMONT, N.Y. - The main story line coming out of Saturday's Belmont Stakes was how Point Given, who won the race by 12 1/4 lengths, should have won the Triple Crown. That opinion seems to dismiss the brilliant Kentucky Derby victory recorded by Monarchos five weeks ago.

Monarchos ran away from 16 rivals, including Point Given, in winning the Derby by 4 3/4 lengths in the second-fastest winning time of 1:59.97.

John Ward, trainer of Monarchos, naturally disagrees with the prevailing sentiment. Ward believes the results of the Derby and Belmont were a matter of timing. When Monarchos won the Derby, he was making his fifth start of the year. The same was true for Point Given in the Belmont on Saturday.

Although Point Given won the Preakness and Monarchos finished sixth, beaten 7 1/2 lengths, Ward viewed it as "a toss-up." Ward said he and jockey Jorge Chavez made a tactical error by taking Monarchos too far off the pace in the Preakness.

"We weren't going to beat Point Given yesterday just like he wasn't going to beat us in the Derby," Ward said Sunday morning. "The Preakness, that was a toss-up. If things had unfolded differently, either horse could have been there."

Ward said he was very impressed with how Point Given looked at the test barn after the race.

"Point Given topped yesterday, and it looks like he can hold that top for a little while," Ward said.

Ward said he looks forward to another meeting with Point Given, which could come as early as Aug. 25 in the $1 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga. Whenever it happens, it will happen on Ward's terms, not those dictated by the Triple Crown, which stipulates that horses run in three races in five weeks.

"You go back to horse training now," Ward said. "Everybody's able to pick their timing, pick when they want to run, point their horses to it so they're at their best instead of at the mercy of the rules of the game."

Ward said Monarchos would take it easy for the next three weeks.

"The next step is, just as hard as training, is not training and keeping them from killing themselves," Ward said. "In two or three days he's going to be wanting to do something, so I'm bringing in a round pen from Kentucky so we can turn him out in the afternoon."

Ward is looking forward to taking another trip down the Triple Crown trail. He has eight or nine 2-year-old colts for John Oxley, owner of Monarchos. He listed yet-to-be-named sons of Saint Ballado, Seattle Slew, and Capote as three that he is high on at this stage.

One of the many lessons Ward learned on this year's Triple Crown ride was the value of 2-year-old experience. Point Given came into his 3-year-old year with established juvenile form while Monarchos had only two races, failing to win either one.

"He wasn't smart enough to break his maiden at 2," said Ward, who compared Monarchos to another juvenile runner in his barn, Hero's Tribute, who won a stakes at 2. "If we had taken the Hero's Tribute experience and put it in Monarchos we would have saved ourselves three races [in Florida] and he would have been a lot healthier, smarter, stronger animal and that's what I look at for this fall.'