Medal Count, Commanding Curve Continue Belmont Stakes Prep

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5:54 pm EDT

By Dick Downey

Updated 8:18 a.m.

Medal Count will work Saturday in Louisville before shipping to Belmont Park two days before the Belmont Stakes, and Commanding Curve left Churchill Downs Thursday.

It will be the second breeze since the Kentucky Derby for Medal Count. On May 17, Medal Count breezed four furlongs in :49.00 (29/67) at Churchill Downs. He followed that up on May 24 with a bullet five-furlong breeze in :59.40 (1/42).

Meanwhile, Commanding Curve, who finished second in the Kentucky Derby, was shipped to Belmont Park today. Medal Count finished eighth in the Derby.

“He’s doing great,” trainer Dale Romans said of Medal Count. “He’s a Triple Crown-caliber horse, needs to run a Triple Crown race and should improve going a mile-and-a-half. As we know it, it’s been close to 40 years, 11 chances; no one has been able to do it yet, so California Chrome has a tough thing to do.”

Romans mapped out a strategy for the Belmont.

“He should be laying fairly close going a mile-and-a-half, because you can’t let them get away from you in that race.”

Romans has saddled four Belmont runners, with his best finishes coming as third-place efforts in 2005 with Nolan’s Cat and 2010 with First Dude.

Robby Albarado, who retains the mount on Medal Count, has finished second in the Belmont twice, once in 2007 with Curlin and again in 2008 with Denis of Cork. This will be Albarado’s fourth Belmont.

During a Thursday conference call, Dallas Stewart, trainer of Commanding Curve, said much the same thing as Romans did about strategy. Commanding Curve will not be nearly as far back in the Belmont as he was in the Kentucky Derby, the trainer said.

In the Derby, Commanding Curve closed from 18th place, 11 1/2 lengths off the pace after the first half-mile.

Commanding Curve is expected to breeze at Belmont soon, making it three workouts since the Derby. On Friday, May 16, he breezed four furlongs on a good track in :48:80 (6/36) at Churchill Downs and followed that up a week later going five furlongs in :59:80 (3/25), breezing.