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After Rombauer's Preakness win, attention shifts to Belmont

By
Robert Kieckhefer, UPI Racing Writer
Jockey Flavien Prat relaxes after Rombauer wins the 146th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday. Photo by Caroline Brehman/UPI
Jockey Flavien Prat relaxes after Rombauer wins the 146th Preakness Stakes horse race at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on Saturday. Photo by Caroline Brehman/UPI | License Photo

May 17 (UPI) -- With a Triple Crown sweep off the table after Rombauer's upset win in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, attention shifts to the third leg of the series, the Belmont Stakes on June 5, which promises a very different cast of characters.

Trainer Michael McCarthy and owner/breeders John and Diane Fradkin said Sunday that Rombauer will be shipped to New York while they talk over whether he should tackle the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. The trainer and owners have not been on the same page so far on the Triple Crown trail and don't seem to be now.

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They agreed to enter the colt in the Preakness after the Fradkins nixed McCarthy's urging he be allowed to have a shot in the Run for the Roses.

"Yeah, well, I believe in running him in the easier spots if possible, and I didn't think that the Kentucky Derby really suited him," John Fradkin said in his post-Preakness interview.

RELATED Rombauer wins Preakness, controversial Derby winner 3rd

"I thought there was a pretty good chance we would not hit the board just because of his running style. So yeah, we did this [the Preakness] against less competition, and I got lucky today."

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Now, while Fradkin said the original plan was to target the Belmont, he said second thoughts are creeping in.

Now that we've won this one, it kind of takes the pressure off to do that," he said. "And that race is only three weeks out and the spacing isn't superb to go into a mile-and-a-half race with just three weeks of rest because I think he's going to like the distance.

RELATED Medina Spirit wins Kentucky Derby; trainer Baffert lands record 7th

"I'd said [the Belmont] is a possibility, but it's probably a little less of a possibility than if we had run like a good third or something."

The rest of the field for the Belmont most likely will include Preakness runner-up Midnight Bourbon.

"Absolutely," trainer Steve Asmussen said of the Belmont suiting Midnight Bourbon. "I think he has proven he is more than worthy of consideration for the best 3-year-olds in the country."

RELATED Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit looks to Preakness

Medina Spirit, who failed a drug test after winning the Kentucky Derby, will ship back to Kentucky while trainer Bob Baffert decides what's next for him," assistant Jimmy Barnes said Sunday.

Baffert did not attend the Preakness to avoid distraction involving the possibility of Medina Spirit being stripped of the Derby victory if the testing is confirmed -- a battle that could drag on for months or years.

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Also possible are Hot Rod Charlie, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, and Essential Quality, who finished fourth as the favorite. Rebel's Romance, who won the Group 2 UAE Derby in Dubai, also is prepping for a run in the Belmont. and Rock Your World, one of the hot items in Louisville, is expected to seek redemption after a rough start basically eliminated him from contention in the Run for the Roses.

In other weekend action:

Distaff

Army Wife rallied from well back in the 10-filly field in Friday's $250,000 Grade II George E. Mitchell Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico, got through some traffic to take the lead near the furlong marker and kicked away to post a mild upset, winning by 2 3/4 lengths.

Willful Woman was second, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Lady Traveler. California shipper Beautiful Woman raced near the leaders early, then faded through the lane to report seventh.

Army Wife, a daughter of Declaration of War, got 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.63. Joel Rosario had the mount for trainer Mike Maker.

Army Wife needed four starts to find the winner's circle last year, got her second victory at Gulfstream Park in March and then finished third in the Grade III Gazelle at Aqueduct on April 3.

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"This was a breakout race, third start off the layoff," said Army Wife's trainer, Mike Maker. "I thought her last race was huge, too. She did so well on the dirt [after three turf defeats] that we just kept her there."

Spice Is Nice drafted in behind the early leader in Friday's $150,000 Grade III Allaire DuPont Distaff at Pimlico, moved to challenge turning for home and edged clear late to a 1 1/2-lengths victory.

Pacesetting Dreamalildreamofu held second, 2 lengths better than Getridofwhatailesu, and the favorite, Horologist, finished fourth. Spice Is Nice, a 4-year-old Curlin filly, ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:48.71 with John Velazquez up. It was her fourth win, first in a stakes race.

Classic

Last Judgment worked his way to the lead shortly after the start of Friday's $250,000 Grade III Pimlico Special and held the advantage to finish line. Modernist made a mild late move to edge the favorite, Fearless, for second. The margins were 1 3/4 lengths and a neck.

Last Judgment, a 5-year-old Congrats gelding, ran 1 3/16 miles on a fast track in 1:54.37 with Jose Ortiz riding. Mike Maker claimed Last Judgment last October for $62,500. He has gone 3-for-6 since the claim with all three wins in stakes events.

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"Very classy horse," Maker said. "We like the way he's responded on that stretch out.

"He's run well for us going a mile and an eighth. I was glad to stretch him out and hoped to get a softer pace going longer." He said he hasn't mapped out any campaign for the winner.

In Saturday's first race at Pimlico, the $100,000 Sir Barton for 3-year-olds, The King Cheek swapped the lead with Hozier but never gave up and put his head in front of that rival at the wire.

It was another 9 1/2 lengths to Romp in third and further 16 1/2 lengths to Golden Gulley in fourth. The only other starter, Market Cap, stumbled and dumped his rider at the start.

The King Cheek, a Laoban gelding, ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:42.81 with Jaime Rodriguez in the iron. Trained by Jamie Ness, he came out of a $35,000 optional claimer at Parx Racing while Hozier was second in the Grade II Rebel and sixth in the Grade I Arkansas Derby for Baffert.

Sprint

Special Reserve pressured pacesetting favorite Strike Power into the stretch of Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Maryland Sprint at Pimlico, moved to the lead when that rival drifted out and went on to win by 1 3/4 lengths. Strike Power held second, 1 1/4 lengths better than Frosted Grace.

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Special Reserve, a 5-year-old Midshipman gelding, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:08.91. He has emerged quickly as a force in the division, finishing second behind Flagstaff in the Grade III Commonwealth at Keeneland in his last start.

At Santa Anita, The Chosen Vron chased down pacesetting Laurel River in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Lazaro Barerra Stakes for 3-year-olds and ran on to win by 3 1/2 lengths over that rival. Wipe the Slate and I'll Stand taller strolled in a bit later to complete the order of finish.

The Chosen Vron, a Vronsky gelding, ran 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:16.28 for jockey Umberto Rispoli. He picked up his third win from four starts.

As noted here earlier, Saturday's $200,000 Grade III Chick Lang Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico looked for all the world to be between a pair of Steve Asmussen Oaklawn Park shippers.

So it was as Mighty Mischief sprinted to the lead and held on to defeat stablemate and favorite, Jaxon Traveler, by 1 1/4 lengths. Hemp was third, another 2 1/2 lengths back. Mighty Mischief, an Into Mischief colt, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.74 with Ricardo Santana Jr. up.

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Mighty Mischief won his last two starts at Oaklawn while working through conditions. Jaxon Traveler finished second in the Gazebo and won the Bachelor at the Arkansas oval before heading back to the track where he started his career with a win.

Moonlite Strike returned to Gulfstream Park from a Turfway Park sojourn to upset Saturday's $75,000 Roar Stakes for 3-year-olds. With Edgard Zayas in the irons, the Liam's Map colt applied constant pressure to the early leader, took over and drew off to score by 3 1/4 lengths over Lauda Speed.

The odds-on favorite, collaborate, settled for third after a slow start. Moonlight Strike got 6 1/2 furlongs on a fast track in 1:17.15. He was sixth in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks in his previous start.

Filly & Mare Sprint

Red Ghost set a pressured pace in Friday's $150,000 Grade III Miss Preakness Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, gave up the lead a furlong out but came again inside rivals to win by a nose. Euphoric was second, another head in front of Joyful Cadence.

Red Ghost, a Ghostzapper filly trained by Wesley Ward, ran 6 furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.53 with John Velazquez in the irons. She remains undefeated on the dirt but was not competitive when tried on the grass at Kentucky Downs in her only start on the grass last September.

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"She got passed, almost a length," Velazquez said. "She was looking to the inside and the other horses passed her. She didn't even care. She kept looking to the inside and leaning out and I got after her. I got after her at the three-sixteenths pole and she came back."

Chub Wagon stalked the pace in Saturday's $100,000 Runhappy Skipat Stakes at Pimlico, moved to the front when asked by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. and won off by 2 lengths. Casual came from last of seven to finish second, a nose in front of Club Car in a CCC trifecta finish.

Chub Wagon, a 4-year-old daughter of Hey Chub, ran 6 furlongs in 1:09.71. She remains undefeated after six starts, five of them at Parx Racing and two against fellow Pennsylvania-breds.

Turf

Often in recent years it's been trainer Chad Brown taking the bows after big turf races. After Saturday's $250,000 Grade II Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico, it was Somelikeithotbrown and trainer Mike Maker getting the honors with two Chad Brown charges finishing out of the money.

Somelikeithotbrown, a 5-year-old son of Big Brown, raced second through much of the race, took charge entering the stretch and went on to win by 1 length. Talk Or Listen and Midnight Tea Time both rallied late to finish second and third.

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Somelikeithotbrown finished the 1 1/16 miles in course-record time of 1:40.09 with Jose Ortiz aboard. He was second in this race last year, but came to this year's edition off a seventh-place showing in the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.

"We have a lot of options," said Somelikeithotbrown's trainer, Mike Maker. "He's run well at Saratoga multiple times. He's a New York-bred, so we'll look at a couple of those races, as well."

At Churchill Downs on Saturday, Arklow was the class of the field in the $150,000 Grade III Louisville Stakes and ran to his notices. Starting well back in the big field, the 7-year-old son of Arch got rolling rounding the third turn of the 1 1/2-miles affair, reached the front by the furlong marker and won by 1 length over Red Knight. Strong Tide completed the trifecta.

Arklow, with Florent Geroux up, finished in 2:27.13, winning for the third time in his last four starts. He was sixth in the Breeders' Cup Turf in the midst of that run.

Filly & Mare Turf

Mean Mary asserted herself early in Saturday's $150,000 Grade III Gallorette Stakes at Pimlico, opening up a good lead before holding on to win by 1/2 length from Vigilantes Way. Great Island was third as Mean Mary, a 5-year-old Scat Daddy mare, finished 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:43.10 under Luis Saez.

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Mean Mary was a handful last year, winning three straight graded stakes before finishing a close second in the Grade I Diana at Saratoga and seventh, beaten only 2 1/2 lengths, in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf. The Gallorette was her first start since that race.

Alda raced well back of the early speed in Friday's $100,000 Hilltop Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Pimlico, shot to the lead in the stretch run and then held off a late run by Seasons to win by a neck. Arm Candy was a nose behind that one in third.

Alda, a Munnings filly, finished second in the Grade I Natalma at Woodbine last season but then was 11th in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf and sixth in her 2021 debut, the Limestone Turf Sprint at Keeneland. The Graham Motion trainee got Friday's 1 mile over firm turf in 1:35.06 for jockey John Velazquez.

Shifty She shadowed the leaders in Saturday's $75,000 Powder Break Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Gulfstream Park, got to the front leaving the quarter pole in her wake and held off the favorite, Morning Molly, at the end to win by a neck. Mo of the West was third.

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Shifty She, a daughter of Gone Astray, ran 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.62 with Edwin Gonzalez up.

Turf Mile

T D Dance wove through some traffic to challenge for the lead in the stretch run of Saturday's $100,000 James W. Murphy Stakes for 3-year-olds at Pimlico, then spurted clear in the final furlong to win by 3 3/4 length.

Arzak was second-best, a neck in front of Charles Chrome. Outadore, the morning-line favorite, was a late scratch. T D Dance, a Can the Man colt, finished 1 mile on firm turf in 1:34.89 with Javier Castellano riding.

Trained by Brad Cox, T D Dance was last seen winning a 1 1/16-miles turf event at Fair Grounds.

Turf Sprint

Eight horses flashed under the wire less than 2 lengths apart at the end of Saturday's $100,000 Grade III Soaring Softly Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at Belmont Park. Bye Bye was first to the lead in the stretch and got the win by a neck over Invincible Gal with another neck to Candace O in third.

The favorite, Tobys Heart, rallied from next-last to finish fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths.

Bye Bye, an Into Mischief filly, got 7 furlongs on firm turf in 1:21.19 with Eric Cancel riding, picking up her second win for trainer Christophe Clement.

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Caraval won a three-way photo at the end of Friday's $100,000 The Very One Stakes for fillies and mares at Pimlico, nosing out Gotta Go Mo with Victory Kingdom a nose behind that one.

Caravel, a 4-year-old daughter of Mizzen Mast, was always within striking range, lacked room at mid-stretch but found daylight between rivals to get the job done. She finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in 56.21 seconds under Florent Geroux. The lightly raced gray filly, bred and owned by her trainer, Elizabeth Merryman, now has five wins from seven starts.

On Saturday at the Baltimore oval, Firecrow shadowed pacesetting favorite The Critical Way through most of the $100,000 Jim McKay Turf Sprint, ran by that one in the closing strides and won by a neck. Completed Pass was third.

Firecrow, a 5-year-old Maclean's Music gelding, finished 5 furlongs on firm turf in course-record time of 55.30 seconds. The Ron Moquette trainee, normally a "need the lead" type, was last seen finishing fourth in the Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park behind the talented trio of C Z Rocket, Whitmore and Flagstaff.

The McKay was his third start and first win on the green course.

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Around the ovals:

Evangeline Downs

Snowball ran down pacesetting Distractor Factor in the closing yards to win Friday's $60,000 Evangeline Downs Distaff Stakes for Louisiana-bred fillies and mares by 3/4 length.

Saber Cut was third as Snowball, a 5-year-old Apriority mare, covered 1 mile on a fast track in 1:38.35 for jockey Diego Saenz.

On Saturday, Treys Midnite Moon was along late to get the winner's share of the $60,000 Evangeline Downs Classic for state-breds, defeating Pound For Pound by 1/2 length. Mageez busted some trifecta tickets with a 40-1 third-place finish.

Treys Midnite Moon, a 6-year-old Neko Bay gelding, got home in 1:37.12 with Tim Thornton riding.

Prairie Meadows

Flash of Mischief flashed by pacesetting Chicks Dig Scars in the stretch run to take Saturday's $50,000 Golden Circle Stakes for 3-year-olds by 1 length over that foe. Vulcan contested the early lead and stuck around to get show money.

The favorite, Bodenheimer, was never in the mix and finished last. Flash of Mischief, an Into Mischief colt, ran 6 furlongs on a muddy track in 1:08.79 with Elvin Gonzalez in the irons.

In the companion Goldfinch Stakes for 3-year-old fillies, Inject came from behind the leaders, took command in the lane and got away to win by 5 1/4 lengths as the even-money favorite.

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Feeling Mischief and Becca's Rocket filled out the trifecta. Inject, a Frosted filly trained by Brad Cox, reported in 1:09.40.

Around the globe:

England

Palace Pier always figured to have his rivals at his mercy in Saturday's Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and that's just how it played out.

With Frankie Dettori ever confident in the irons, the 4-year-old Kingman colt let the others go early in the mile, kicked into gear since the half and was the only thing worth watching in the final furlong, drawing off to win by a comfortable 1 1/2 lengths.

Lady Bowthorpe, under Oisin Murphy, was along for a long shot second, followed by Top Rank and the ageless Lord Glitters. Palace Pier now has seven wins from eight starts, the only blot coming Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October, where he was third.

"He's a beast. I love him," Dettori said of Palace Pier, who races for Sheik Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum. John Gosden, who trains with his son Thady, said the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot is the next target with the option of stretching out beyond a mile thereafter.

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Japan

While Palace Pier was making his statement at a mile in England, Gran Alegria was doing much the same the next day at Toyko Racecourse in the Grade 1 Victoria Mile.

The 5-year-old Deep Impact mare rallied quickly and decisively outside rivals in deep stretch to win going away. Rambling Alley and Magic Castle, both also by Deep Impact, were second and third.

The victory earned Gran Alegria a guaranteed spot in the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1T) this November at Del Mar and two top turf races in France during the summer and early fall..

Gran Alegria broke in mid-pack. Jockey Christophe Lemaire was content to idle there around the turn while moving into position outside rivals. By mid-stretch, Gran Alegria hit full stride and basically put matters to rest 100 meters out.

Lemaire, who tops the current Japanese jockey list, notched his 1,400th Japan Racing Association win and said the sky is the limit for Gran Alegria.

"She showed that she's at a different level than her competitors and will probably win more Grade 1 titles going forward," Lemaire said.

"She was very strong, as we had all expected. She's not a very good starter so we settled in mid-division but she raced in good rhythm. After I took her to the outside entering the lane, she showed a remarkable response and geared up on her own."

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France

We've waited for St Mark's Basilica since his victory over Wembley last autumn in the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst and the wait proved well worth it Sunday at Longchamp.

The Siyouni colt, under Ioritz Mendizibal, found a gear none of the other 11 possessed in the final 100 meters of the Group 1 Emirates Poule d'Essai Des Poulains, or French 2,000 Guineas, and quickly rallied from mid-pack to win by 1 3/4 lengths, going away under hands and heels.

Colosseo was a long-shot second. Poetic Flair, coming off a victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, finished sixth.

St Mark's Basilica, out of the Galileo mare Cabaret, took his time to get going for trainer Aidan O'Brien last year at the Curragh, winning for the first time in his third start. The victory at Longchamp was only his third but bid fair to put him in the long pipeline of Coolmore-produced, world-class milers -- and perhaps more.

"I got a bad start, maybe it was the long time since his last race, but after the corner he took a good position behind Christophe [Soumillon, rider of Sealiway] and he was relaxed so I waited and for me he could go further, maybe the Jockey Club," the rider told Racing Post.

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Poetic Flair's jockey, Kevin Manning, said, jockey Kevin Manning said: "I got a lovely position but he just didn't pick up for whatever reason, maybe it's ground related, I don't know."

The Coolmore forces took a surprising knock one race later in the Group 1 Emirates Poule d'Essai des Pouliches or French 1,000 Guineas as 38-1 chance Coeursamba surged to the lead 100 meters out and held on well to defeat the favorite, Mother Earth, by 1 1/4 lengths.

Coeursamba, a daughter of The Wow Signal, had only 1 previous win and had not been tested much in top company. Mother Earth, by contrast, was coming off a victory in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket and, before that, a second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Keeneland.

Australia

Savatoxl pulled off the 18-1 upset in Saturday's Group 1 Furphy Goodwood Stakes at Morphetville, running out a 2-lengths winner over Instant Celebrity. The favorite, Gytrash, was another 1/2 length back in third at the end of the 1,200 meters.

Savatoxl, a 5-year-old gelding, backed up a 3-lengths win in his previous start. It was the first Group 1 win as a sire for Kuroshio.

Things were more formful, albeit barely, Saturday at Doomben. Eduardo, the hot favorite, managed to edge 30-1 chance Wild Planet by 1/2 length in the Group 1 TAB Doomben 10,000. The Harrovian was third.

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Eduardo, a 7-year-old gelding by Host, made it three wins from four starts this season with a third in the Group 1 T J Smith Stakes tossed in for good measure.

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