Daily Belmont Udpate: Sunday, June 1

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6/1/2014
2:56 pm EDT

Correction made: Vision and Verse finished second in 1999, not sixth.

CALIFORNIA CHROME -- California Chrome walked the shedrow under Sunday after logging his final breeze before the June 7 Belmont Stakes Saturday.
 
The son of Lucky Pulpit went four furlongs in 47.69 seconds under regular rider Victor Espinoza, and galloped out several furlongs. He was caught in 59.93 for five furlongs by NYRA clockers, 1:12.95 for six, and 1:26.28 for seven over a tightly packed Belmont oval.

"Chrome came out of the work in great shape," said assistant traine Alan Sherman. "He was pulling Willie around the shed row this morning. Everything is cold and tight, and we're ready for Saturday."


COMMANDING CURVE -- Commanding Curve had his first and only breeze over the Belmont main track before the Belmont Stakes, covering four furlongs in 47.38 seconds on Sunday. It was the third quickest of 25 moves at the distance.

Going in company with Cost Affective from the barn of Tom Albertrani, Commanding Curve was kept under a hold as he finished approximately one length in front of his workmate.

"I thought he worked great," said trainer Dallas Stewart. "I've never seen him work any better. It was easy, and he was calm and perfect. He came back not blowing. That's the thing about him: he never gets tired. It was just a great day for him. We'll take it."

Commanding Curve, who has one win in seven starts, enters the Belmont Stakes off a runner-up finish in the Kentucky Derby. After lagging 12 lengths behind the leader in 18th, Commanding Curve made a steady run to finish 1 3/4 length behind California Chrome.


COMMISSIONER/MATTERHORN -- Trainer Todd Pletcher sent out Commissioner and Matterhorn  The former was clocked in 49.86 seconds for four furlongs, while the latter turned in a move of 49.90 for a half-mile.

Matterhorn's status for the Belmont is still up in the air.

"I thought they worked very well; it was a good, well-executed breeze. Both horses seemed very comfortable and relaxed and galloped out well. I thought (Matterhorn) breezed well enough to continue to consider it; we'll see how he comes out of it and make a final decision, but I did like the breeze."


KID CRUZ -- After he worked on Friday, trainer Linda Rice said to expect a decision on whether he'll be entered by Sunday. Caton Bredar of HRTV reported today that a decision isn't likely until Tuesday. Entries will be taken on Wednesday.


MATUSZAK -- Matuszak breezed five furlongs in 1:00.94 over the main track this morning in his final serious work for Saturday's Belmont Stakes.

The son of Bernardini went in company with fellow 3-year-old colt Maximus Mike for trainer Bill Mott. A maiden winner in April at Aqueduct, Maximus Mike was clocked in 1:02.14.

"He just needed some company, that's all; anything to get him started," Mott said. "It was great. He came home very well. I might be wrong, but I got him coming home in under 23 seconds. He went very well."

Sunday marked the fourth straight five-eighths work around Belmont's 1 ½-mile oval for Matuszak, who fired bullets of 59.88 on May 12 and 59.70 on May 19. He was also timed in 1:01.56 on May 26.

Mott has been thrilled with the late spring development of Matuszak, who the trainer said is not ordinarily an eye-catching work horse.

"He's been working quite well. The last three works have been pretty good," Mott said. "I realize we're kind of a long shot and we're reaching, but the horse is actually coming around at the right time, whatever that may mean."

Mott captured the 2010 Belmont with Drosselmeyer at odds of 13-1 and has had five previous starters in the race, including Vision and Verse, who finished second behind Lemon Drop Kid in 1999 when Charismatic was vying for a Triple Crown.

Stabled in the barn next to Mott is Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome.

"If California Chrome wins, I'll be excited just because we'll have another Triple Crown winner," Mott said. "In the meantime, we'll do our best to try and beat every horse in the race that we can."


RIDE ON CURLIN -- Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin put in his first timed breeze since arriving at Belmont Park on May 20, a seven-furlong work in 1:28.03 Sunday morning under regular exercise rider Bryan Beccia.

"I thought he went super," trainer Billy Gowan said. "He went just like I told him. I told him to go slow the first quarter, and he went in 27. He went the last quarter in 24. It was just what we wanted, mainly to just get some air into him. If I work him a half-mile, he may get too speed crazy. As long as he was going slow, that's all we needed."

Watching the work with Gowan was John Velazquez, who will be aboard Ride On Curlin for the first time in the Belmont. Velazquez has ridden two Belmont winners: the filly Rags to Riches in 2007 and Union Rags in 2012.

"One good thing about the horse is that he's easy to ride. He relaxes when he gets around horses, and he doesn't get speed crazy or anything," Gowan said. "He can pretty much ride him any way he wants to. I've told all his riders that. He's probably the easiest horse you've ever ridden in your life. He showed that today. He was nice and relaxed. He doesn't get too worked up about anything, but when you ask him he's still full of run."

Gowan said Ride On Curlin will walk the shed row on Monday morning and go back to the track on Tuesday. His sire, two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, was second to Rags to Riches in the 2007 Belmont.

"We'll just gallop him easy. He doesn't need much," Gowan said. "We'll probably take him slow every day, and just keep him happy. I'm just happy with the way my horse is going. We come in every morning, and he's hollering for his feed. He's just a tough horse."


SOCIAL INCLUSION -- He breezed on Saturday, and owner Ron Sanchez said an announcement about his Belmont Stakes status would come on Sunday. Now Sanchez says it will be Monday. The Woody Stephens is said to be the other option for Social Inclusion.


TONALIST -- He's was on the track in good shape the day after his final workout for the Belmont Stakes. The bay colt was clocked in 1:00.11 for five furlongs, working in company with stablemate Life In Shambles.

"He came out of his work in good order," said  trainer Christophe Clement. "He looked great this morning. He jogged a mile and a half and went to the gate, standing in it and going back out, just regular schooling that we always do the day after the work. He will be back tomorrow and be back to his normal routine."

The likely second or third choice in the betting behind California Chrome, Tonalist enters the Belmont Stakes off a four-length score in the Peter Pan. He has made only four starts in his career, with two wins and a second-place finish to his credit.


WICKED STRONG -- With 2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice and a workmate in front of him, Wicked Strong breezed five furlongs in 59.10 seconds, the quickest of 12 workouts at the distance over the Belmont training track on Sunday.

Wicked Strong began his work several lengths behind Palace Malice and Celebrator and was eager to catch the Pletcher pair, but exercise rider Kelvin Pahal kept Wicked Strong in check.

"I thought he went real good," said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. "It was a little fast, but he saw me put my hand up to slow down, and he did. He didn't pull him back, but he didn't urge him any. It looked like he saw them ahead of him and really got into gear around the turn and was approaching them fast, which is why I slowed him down. You don't mind them doing it if they are only a few lengths in front, but when they are six lengths in front, it's a different story. But it was good. I'm happy with it."

Wicked Strong, who won the TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial in May, finished fourth, 5 3/34 lengths behind California Chrome, in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Hard Spun had blowout workouts before the Wood and the Derby, but he will not have a blowout before the Belmont Stakes, according to Jerkens.

"He'll probably just gallop into the race," said Jerkens. "He gallops pretty steadily. I blew him out at Churchill because he wasn't really getting into the bridle when he galloped. He was really distracted, which is why we gave him a little something."