Belmont Stakes Contenders Continue Preparations for Final Jewel

June 9, 2023

NYRA Press Office

ELMONT, N.Y.— A talented field of nine sophomores will line up for the 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Training resumed in usual fashion on Friday as each of the contenders returned to normal course of preparations for Saturday’s “Test of the Champion.”

SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan’s Grade 1 Preakness-winner National Treasure had an easy day of it for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

“He’s great,” said Jimmy Barnes, assistant trainer. “He went to the track today and galloped about a mile and three-eighths. It all depends on how the race sets up. With the right trip, we should be in good shape.”

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher’s pair of contenders each went out just past 6:00 a.m. Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Eclipse Champion Forte and Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway’s Grade 1 Blue Grass winner Tapit Trice each loosened up a bit on the training track with easy gallops and the latter appearing very much on his toes.

“They each galloped a mile and three-eighths,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Both are good.”

The trio of Brad Cox-trained contenders Angel of Empire, Hit Show, and Tapit Shoes each returned to the Belmont main track. Cox reported all three remain on target for the Belmont and showed good energy in their exercise.

“They went for their routine gallops, mile and an eighth, mile and a half – something like that,” Cox said. “It was pretty good. They were feeling good and had nice, controlled gallops and they all handled it very well.”

Cox noted that Grade 1 Kentucky Derby alumni Angel of Empire [third] and Hit Show [fifth] are training as forwardly into the Belmont as they did into the Derby.

“They don’t look like they’ve regressed one bit,” said Cox. “I’m super pleased with how they’re training.”

Blue Rose Farm’s Grade 3 Peter Pan-winner Arcangelo visited the main track for trainer Jena Antonucci.

“He’s in chill mode at this point. He’s relaxed and happy. He went for a big, long walk through the paddock and went on from the paddock gap,” Antonucci said. “He galloped an easy mile. We’re not going to change fitness at this point, just keep him happy. He was a good boy.”

Arcangelo will exit post 3 under Hall of Famer Javier Castellano on Saturday and Antonucci said she will leave the trip in the capable hands of the veteran rider, who captured his first Kentucky Derby this year aboard Mage.

“It’s up to Javier. We can microanalyse it until the cows come home but Javier has a plan and we’re going to let him go and do his plan,” Antonucci said.

The Arrogate colt is listed as 8-1 on the morning line.

Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Red Route One galloped one mile over the Belmont training track for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

“He was feeling good, they all were,” said Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s chief assistant.

Eduardo Soto’s Il Miracolo visited the main track for a routine gallop for trainer Antonio Sano.

The Belmont Stakes headlines the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that features a total of 16 stakes events from Thursday, June 8 through Saturday, June 10. For additional information on the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and details on hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com.

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