Updated 11:45 a.m. ET
Updated 12:44 p.m. ET
Updated 4:28 p.m. ET
Several Belmont Stakes contenders put in their final workouts Saturday in preparation for the 1 1/2 mile race on June 10.
On the dirt track at Fair Hill Training Center, Trainer Graham Motion sent Irish War Cry out in company with Ascend, a 5-year-old gelding that most recently won the Henry S. Clark Stakes.
Irish War Cry started less than a length back and to the outside of Ascend and stayed just behind him throughout the move. The pair galloped out on even terms as well. Both of them were clocked in 1.14:00 for six furlongs; they were the only two to work at the distance. Exercise rider David Nava was up on Irish War Cry. Later, Motion reportedly said he was pleased with the work. According to a tweet by Alicia Wincze Hughes, Motion said, "I haven't spoken to (the owner) yet this morning but right now my inclination would be to go."
At Churchill Downs, J Boys Echo breezed five furlongs in 1:00.00 in company with Reedini, a maiden winner that was also credited with a time of 1:00.00. J Boys Echo galloped out six furlongs in 1:13.80. The work ended in the middle of the first turn. "Best he's ever worked," trainer Dale Romans said to Marty McGee of DRF.
"Reedini is coming off a layoff. He's a good horse. He worked with him last week, and Reedini kind of kept up with him going head and head, and J Boy got away from him on the gallop-out. Today Reedini couldn't keep up with him. J Boy opened up three on him around the turn and galloped out 10 in front. So I was very impressed with J Boy today."
Jason Loutsch, racing manager for Albaugh Family Stables, tweeted a bit later, "Excited to have Robbie back on the saddle," so apparently Albarado will be aboard J Boys Echo in the Belmont. He'll ride in races on Thursday for the first time since breaking a lower leg bone, which caused him to miss the Kentucky Derby.
Over at Keeneland, trainer Brendan Walsh was aboard Multiplier, the Illinois Derby winnner that finished sixth in the Preakness. Multiplier was in company with and to the inside of workmate War Union, a 3-year-old colt by Union Rags that recently broke his maiden at Churchill Downs racing for a $50,000 tag in his fifth start. The four-furlong breeze was timed in 48.40 by track clockers, with the gallop-out going in 1:01.20.
Two workouts took place at Belmont Park.
Twisted Tom worked in company with and to the inside of Economic Model, who's going to be entered in the Met Mile. Both were clocked in 1:01.13. Twisted Tom was out six furlongs in 1:13.99 over the main track, per a report on Twitter. Chad Brown trains.
"He executed it perfectly," said Brown. "We wanted a nice, steady five-eighths. He's trained really well since the Tesio. The Belmont has been our goal since then; we've been trying to figure out how to get him to the race. Obviously, it will be a big class test for him but I've been anxious to try him at 1 1/2 miles."
Meantime, second in the Peter Pan Stakes for trainer Brian Lynch, went five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.66, with the final quarter-mile timed in 24.00, according to NYRA clockers.
"It wasn't the most orthodox work," said Lynch. "We tried to work him with another horse and the other horse broke off too far in front of him, but he had a good target to chase. The work was comfortable enough, didn't want Mike to push on him too hard, we worked him quite quick last week, a little quicker than I wanted going into a long race. It was more of a comfort work today with a good gallop out, and inevitably he ended up catching the horse on the gallop out.
"When I look at the big picture, it probably was a pretty good work," he added. "Went 1:01 and change and out in 1:14, so I think it was the work we were looking for. Watching him come off the track, he had minimal blow and seemed to have a good recovery rate. I think he's a pretty fit horse going into it, so I think we'll roll the dice and move forward."
"I think he's a horse that'll be up in the first tier of horses and a lot of the times that's where the Belmont is won," said Lynch. "Whoever is one-two-three going into the first turn usually finishes one-two-three, so I think tactically, he's the right horse to try and do it with it. I think fitness-wise, the mile and a half will be a test, but he's as good as we can get him."
Mike Smith is confirmed for the mount, said Lynch.
"I hadn't really committed to a rider and he was available," he explained. "So I thought, nobody better than a big money rider for a race like this, and I've got a long rapport with Mike from California years ago, so I think if he feels I'm going to take a shot, he'll take a shot with me. He's certainly a rider who shows up on big days and hopefully we've got an up-and-coming horse that provides the talent he needs to get it done."
Gormley was sent out at Santa Anita by trainer John Shirreffs and worked seven furlongs on his own. Shirreffs told Jeremy Balan of Blood-Horse it was the colt's first-ever solo work. It was also his first work in blinkes. Gormley was timed on Shirreff's watch in 1:25.60 under Victor Espinoza.
Santa Anita clockers caught Gormley in fractional times of 24.60, 36.80, 48.80, 1:00.80 and 1:13 for six furlongs, with a one mile gallop out clocking of 1:40.60.
“Victor was very pleased with the work, and I thought the horse looked sensational,” Shirreffs said, “but we haven’t made up our minds yet. I haven’t discussed it with Mr. Moss, and we haven’t talked about the logistics of shipping.”
Epicharis and Lookin at Lee await their final breezes. The former one was released from quarantine this morning after arriving at Belmont Park from Japan two days ago. He headed to the training track and will breeze on Tuesday or Wednesday. Lookin at Lee is set to work on Sunday.
Senior Investment breezed this past Wednesday and is set to go again on Tuesday. Trainer Ken McPeek will be back in the states soon after today's debacle at Epsom. Daddy's Lil Darling was scratched from the Epsom Oaks after dumping her rider and running off.