Belmont Stakes: Pletcher may saddle four contenders or more

Story by: David Grening
Source: DRF.com

After running five horses in the Kentucky Derby and none in the Preakness, trainer Todd Pletcher is preparing another small army for the $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 8.

Pletcher is likely to run four horses in the Belmont and possibly more, depending on owner Mike Repole.

On Monday, Pletcher said Revolutionary (third in the Kentucky Derby), Overanalyze (11th), and Palace Malice (12th) were definitely pointing to the Belmont. Repole said the filly Unlimited Budget, third in the Kentucky Oaks, is almost certain to run, while he and Pletcher also will consider Micromanage and Midnight Taboo based on how they train in the coming weeks.

“I want to win this race,” said Repole, a native New Yorker who finished second in the 2011 Belmont with Stay Thirsty. “But I’m not going to do something dumb or stupid to win the race.”

On Sunday, Overanalyze, Palace Malice, and Unlimited Budget returned to the work tab for the first time in two weeks. Overanalyze and Midnight Taboo worked a half-mile together over the Belmont training track in 47.51 seconds. Pletcher called it “an enthusiastic breeze” for both horses.

Pletcher does not yet have a rider for Overanalyze. It is expected that John Velazquez would ride one of the Repole-owned starters.

Unlimited Budget worked a half-mile in 49.07 in company with the 3-year-old male Jack Milton, the winner of the Grade 3 Transylvania Stakes on turf at Keeneland last out. Pletcher didn’t have an excuse for Unlimited Budget, who suffered her first defeat in the Oaks when third to stablemate Princess of Sylmar.

“At the top of the stretch, I thought she was the most likely winner, and she flattened out the last part,” Pletcher said. “She’s a very talented filly who has run well every start of her life.”

Pletcher remains high on Palace Malice, who still is eligible for a first-level allowance race. After earning his way into the Kentucky Derby with a second-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes, Palace Malice ran off with jockey Mike Smith in the Derby, setting blistering fractions before fading to 12th. He wore blinkers for that race and probably will not wear them in the Belmont, Pletcher said.

On Sunday, Palace Malice breezed four furlongs in 47.49 at Belmont.

“I still think he’s a very good horse,” Pletcher said. “He ran a big race in the Blue Grass, and I feel like he’s got a big win in him. He came out of the Derby very well. He breezed great yesterday. He’s a son of Curlin out of a Royal Anthem mare, so the pedigree suggests a mile and a half is within his scope.”

Pletcher said Smith would be back aboard Palace Malice for the Belmont.

Revolutionary will breeze only twice leading up to the Belmont and thus did not work Sunday. Javier Castellano, who was aboard Revolutionary for wins in the Withers Stakes and Louisiana Derby but took off to ride Normandy Invasion in the Kentucky Derby, will get the mount back for the Belmont.