On the day after Preakness 138, the field for the Belmont Stakes started to shape up and looks to include Maryland hero Oxbow, perhaps Orb, contenders from the barns of Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert, and others.
Trainer Shug McGaughey was back at his Belmont Park barn Sunday afternoon, the day after Orb’s Triple Crown bid ended in Baltimore.
The son of Malibu Moon arrived at Belmont at 11:30 a.m., reportedly doing well. A decision aobut the Belmont Stakes isn't likely in the next few days.
“He was already in his stall when I got back here, and seemed to be fine,” said McGaughey. “We’ll walk him a good while this afternoon and just kind of see what we have. The Belmont Stakes is on our radar screen.
“I talked to Mr. Janney this morning. He and Mr. Phipps had talked on their way to the airport. We just all came to the conclusion that we should just watch Orb and see. I think everything is in good shape. We’d like to run. But yesterday took a little bit out of him, and he’s already run five times this year, and it’s only the middle of May. I’d sure like to have him fresh for Saratoga and a Jim Dandy-Travers kind of a go.
“He’s just going to have to tell us what we want to see. If he’s jumping out of his skin, we’re going to bring him over here. I might know in about a week. I just have to wait and see. Everything’s gone great all year until yesterday. But I don’t anticipate any problems. I don’t think he’s knocked out by any means.”
Meanwhile, Preakness winner Oxbow was heading back to Kentucky by van and is expected to be aimed at the Belmont Stakes.
According to NYRA stakes coordinator Andrew Byrnes, others looking at the race at this point are: --Freedom Child, winner of the Grade II Peter Pan, trained by Tom Albertrani
--Golden Soul, second in the Kentucky Derby, trained by Dallas Stewart
--Revolutionary, third in the Derby for Todd Pletcher
--Overanalyze, 11th in the Derby for Pletcher
--Palace Malice, 12th in the Derby for Pletcher
--Either Code West or Power Broker, each recent allowance winners for Bob Baffert
--Itsmyluckyday and Will Take Charge are possible.
Pletcher expanded on his options.
“We have a few candidates, but we haven’t firmed up the lineup just yet,” he said. "Overanalyze breezed this morning (four furlongs in :47.50 seconds over the training track) and breezed well. We are planning to run him.
"We breezed Palace Malice (four furlongs in :47.49, training track) and talked to Campbell. We plan to run him. Revolutionary will have two breezes starting next Sunday. We plan to run him," Pletcher said.
"Mike Repole is going to be the key to how many other horses we run. He has several possibilities (in addition to Overanalyze). Unlimited Budget breezed this morning (four furlongs in 49.07, training track), and she is possible. Micromanage is here and will breeze next Sunday, and we’ll make a decision after that," the trainer concluded.
Unlimited Budget, third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks on May 3, would be attempting to emulate Rags to Riches, who in 2007 became the first filly since 1905 to win the Belmont. Rags to Riches is Pletcher’s only Belmont Stakes winner to date. Micromanage is exiting a neck victory in an optional claimer on May 11 at Monmouth Park.
Pletcher is a former assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, who on Saturday picked up his sixth Preakness victory when he sent out Oxbow to a front-running win under Gary Stevens.
“I was very happy for Wayne and Gary; it was a tremendous accomplishment for both of them,” said Pletcher. “I thought Gary rode a very, very smart race and took advantage of the pace scenario, and the horse delivered a big performance.”
Trainer Dallas Stewart said Golden Soul is likely to work at Churchill Downs on Wednesday or Thursday. It will be the first work since the Kentucky Derby for Golden Soul.
Edited NYRA notes with additional content by Dick Downey