HRFLA Staff Report
Eight horses were entered on Tuesday for the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (Grade 1) which will be run on Saturday at Belmont Park in Elmont. N.Y.
As expected, the field will include last year’s U.S. two-year-old champion Essential Quality and the winner of this year’s Preakness Stakes (Grade 1) Rombauer.
Essential Quality drew post two and Belmont Park installed him as the 2-1 morning line favorite. Rombauer (photo on home page) drew post three, and is second in the morning line at 3-1.
Hot Rod Charlie is in post four at 7-2 in the morning line. In the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) on May 1, he finished third by a head over Essential Quality who came in fourth.
The Belmont field will not include Rebel’s Romance, who as of Monday had been listed as a likely entrant in the 1 1/2 mile dirt stakes.
Rebel’s Romance is owned and was bred by Dubai-based Godolphin, which on Tuesday said that horse will not run in the Belmont due to a hind leg infection.
The Belmont would have been the first U.S. race for Rebel’s Romance. On March 27, he won the UAE Derby (Grade 2) for 3-year-olds at the Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirate of Dubai.
Godolphin also bred and owns Essential Quality, whose six career starts have been in the United States. The grey/roan son of Tapit won all of those races except the 1 1/4 mile Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.
In his race prior to the Kentucky Derby, Essential Quality beat Highly Motivated by a neck in the 1 1/8 mile Bluegrass Stakes (Grade 2) at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. Highly Motivated finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby.
Belmont Stakes Field
Here is the field for the Belmont Stakes–by post positions with trainers, owners and morning line odds.
1 Bourbonic, T. Pletcher. K. Carmouche, 15-1
In a post Kentucky Derby blood test, Medina Spirit tested positive for the steroid betamethasone which is not permitted in a horse’s bloodstream on a race day in Kentucky.
Following that failed drug test, the New York Racing Association barred Baffert from entering horses in races at Belmont and its other tracks.
The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is conducting a second test on Medina Spirit’s post-Derby blood sample.
Churchill Downs has said it if that test finds illegal medication, it will disqualify Medina Spirit and award Mandaloun the Kentucky Derby victory and winner’s share of the purse.
Mandaloun did not run in the Preakness and will not race in the Belmont.
Medina Spirit finished third in the Preakness, following a series of special pre-race blood tests.
Medina Spirit led Midnight Bourbon by one-half length until the beginning of the stretch in the Preakness.
Rombauer surged past both of those horses in the final sixteenth. He won by 3 1/2 lengths over Midnight Bourbon, with Medina Spirit another two lengths back in third place.
Flavien Prat rode Rombauer in the Preakness. In the Belmont, he will be on board Hot Rod Charlie–the horse he rode in the Kentucky Derby. Prat is honoring a commitment to Doug O’Neill, the trainer of Hot Rod Charlie.
John Velazquez picks up the mount on Rombauer for trainer Michael McCarthy. He rode Medina Spirit in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
The other three top contenders have their same jockeys as in the Kentucky Derby: Luis Saez on Essential Quality for Brad Cox, Irad Ortiz Jr. on Known Agenda for Todd Pletcher and Joel Rosario on Rock Your World for John Sadler.
The Belmont Stakes has this likely pace scenario: Rock Your World taking the lead, with Hot Rod Charlie close behind; Exclusive Quality and France Go de Ina in stalking position; Rombauer and Known Agenda near the rear and likely to make strong late runs; with Overtook and Bourbonic also trailing in the early going.