G1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets contenders all set for the “Test of the Champion”

June 4, 2021

BELMONT, N.Y. — Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets contenders continued preparations for the “Test of the Champion” on Friday at Belmont Park.

Trainer Brad Cox sent Essential Quality out to the Belmont training track for a 1 3/8-mile gallop. 

“The surface on the training track seemed to be a little better. He handled it really well. We’re really happy with where we are,” Cox said. 

Trainer Michael McCarthy gave nothing but positive reports on Rombauer heading into his final day of training for the Belmont Stakes. The Grade 1 Preakness winner visited the training track and galloped 1 3/8 miles. 

“All good, no complaints,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy said he’s pleased to see Rombauer’s success shining a light on John and Diane Fradkin’s small racing and breeding operation. 

“I think it’s great for the sport,” McCarthy said. “They’re small, commercial breeders winning a classic. There’s a lot of people aspiring to do the same thing the Fradkins are doing. It gives people a ray of hope that they can do it as well.”

Yuji Inaida’s Hideyuki Mori-trained France Go de Ina continued his quest to become the first Japanese horse to win an American classic an easy morning.

Accompanied by traveling assistants Masaki Takano and Kate Hunter, the son of Will Take Charge exits a seventh in the Grade 1 Preakness and will look to improve upon Japanese invader Lani’s third in the ‘Test of the Champion’ in 2017. Lani was fifth in the same year’s Preakness.

“He went out to the track by the paddock entrance and walked half a lap around and then turned around to gallop a lap before leaving out the quarter-pole chute,” Hunter said. “He came out of his breeze on Wednesday really well and in his gallop today, he really seemed like he was ready to run. He seems to be in a really good place for the race tomorrow.

“The plan for the race is to hopefully sit in second or third position throughout, avoiding kickback where possible,” Hunter continued. “However, if the pace is slow or if he gets in a position where it looks like he might get a lot of dirt in his face, we prefer him to be forwardly placed—even taking the lead if necessary and setting his own pace.”

The maternal grandson of Curlin drew post 5 of eight and will be ridden for the first time by Ricardo Santana, Jr., who has piloted eight of his 16 Grade 1s on the NYRA circuit.

Hronis Racing and Michael Talla’s Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby winner Rock Your World, the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby-winner, visited the main track and schooled in the paddock.

“He went out at 6 a.m. and galloped a routine mile and a half; not super hard because the track was a little wet. It rained pretty good last night,” said Sadler. “Then he schooled in the paddock and was perfect. We’re excited. This is a great race with a lot of good horses. We like our horse.”  

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher’s trio of Grade 1 Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets trainees–Calumet Farm’s Bourbonic, St. Elias Stable’s Known Agenda and Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, Michael Tabor, Mrs. John Magnier and Derrick Smith’s Overtook went to the training track on Friday.

”Everything went smoothly. They’re all in good order,” said Pletcher assistant Byron Hughes.

Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing, Strauss Bros Racing and Gainesway Thoroughbreds’ Hot Rod Charlie visited the training track in tandem with Hall of Famer Lava Man for trainer Doug O’Neill.

“We took him to the training track at 8:45 and jogged once around with Lava Man,” said O’Neill. “Generally with him, the day before and with all the important work behind him, we do this. We’re really optimistic.”

NYRA Press Office

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