Belmont Stakes: Giant Finish joins field, gets enthusiastic endorsement from Dutrow

Story by: David Grening
Source: DRF.com

 Tony Dutrow wasn’t necessarily on board when his owners, on the eve of entry day, decided to run their New York-bred Giant Finish in the Kentucky Derby.

“My clients wish to race and obviously I’m going to honor their decision,” Dutrow said at the time.

Dutrow said he was admittedly surprised when Giant Finish beat half the field in finishing 10th in the Run for the Roses.

On Wednesday, Dutrow confirmed that Giant Finish would run in the $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 8 and said he is definitely on board with this move.

“I was happily surprised that he beat half the field,” Dutrow said, regarding Giant Finish’s Derby. “I think the horse gave us a great effort and under all circumstances considered I respect him getting a chance in the Belmont.”

Giant Finish has won 2 of 6 starts and finished third in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes over Turfway’s Polytrack surface before his 10th in the Derby. He is by Frost Giant, who won the 2008 Suburban at Belmont when it was a Grade 1 and run at 1 1/4 miles.

“I’m not making any predictions, but I do think the mile and a half will be good for our horse,” Dutrow said.

Dutrow said he has not yet solidified a jockey for Giant Finish, who was ridden by Jose Espinoza in the Derby.

The field for the Belmont is expected to be large, but its lineup is far from confirmed. Kentucky Derby winner Orb, who finished fourth in the Preakness, is not definite to run nor has he been ruled out. Preakness winner Oxbow is virtually certain to run as is his stablemate Will Take Charge.

[BELMONT STAKES: Probable field and latest updates]

Trainer Todd Pletcher could run anywhere from four to six horses – including the filly Unlimited Budget. Other Pletcher definites include Revolutionary, Overanalyze, and Palace Malice. Kentucky Derby runner-up Golden Soul and Peter Pan winner Freedom Child are definite starters while Code West is probable, Mylute possible, and Itsmyluckyday doubtful.

The field for the Belmont is limited to 16 starters. The largest field for the Belmont was 15 in 1983. Fifteen entered in 1996, but only 14 ran.

Orb, Oxbow walk again

Both Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Preakness winner Oxbow walked the shed row of their respective Hall of Fame trainers Wednesday, with both horses expected to return to the track on Thursday.

At Belmont, Orb walked under tack around trainer Shug McGaughey’s barn while his connections mull whether to run back in the Belmont or wait for the summer races at Saratoga, such as the Jim Dandy and Travers.

Stuart Janney III, who owns Orb with Ogden Mills Phipps, was a little cheeky when he said, “I’m pretty sure his next appearance is in New York.”

Asked specifically about the Belmont, Janney said, “I’m just going to try and figure out with Shug what the best thing to do with the horse is. He’s run a lot.”

Orb has run five times this year, winning an allowance race in January, the Fountain of Youth in February and the Florida Derby in March prior to his victory in the Kentucky Derby.

At Churchill, Oxbow walked the barn of trainer D. Wayne Lukas as did Will Take Charge, the seventh-place finisher in the Preakness. Both are expected to return to the track Thursday.

Mylute decision by the weekend

Trainer Tom Amoss said Wednesday morning that a decision on whether Mylute will run in the Belmont will be made by Saturday, if not sooner.

Mylute ran what Amoss described as “the best race of his life” when rallying from last to finish third behind Oxbow and Itsmyluckyday last Saturday in the Preakness at Pimlico. He earned a career-high Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

“He came back a little tired,” said Amoss, adding the colt was scheduled to return to light training Thursday at Churchill. “We’re going to talk over the Belmont and have a decision in the next few days.”

Mylute, owned by Gold Mark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, ran fifth in the Kentucky Derby prior to the Preakness.

New security protocols for patrons

Fans coming to the track for the Belmont Stakes will endure a host of new safety protocols announced Wednesday by the New York Racing Association.

All fans, employees, vendors, and media will be subject to an electronic wand search upon entering through the gates.

Among the items that will be barred this year that have been allowed in years past are backpacks, briefcases, coolers, dufflebags, purses larger than 12-inches in diameter and thermoses. Tailgating will not be allowed.

Those wanting to bring in their own food may do so in a clear plastic container or bag that is no bigger than 18 inches by 18 inches.

NYRA drew up the new safety protocols in light of the bombings at the Boston Marathon and worked in concert with the other Triple Crown tracks, Churchill Downs and Pimlico.

– additional reporting by Marty McGee