- Oxbow, Will Take Charge will van to Belmont Park on Monday
- Irad Ortiz, Jr. to ride Incognito in Belmont
- Vyjack to remain at Belmont Park after Friday gallop, Belmont Stakes possible
- Preakness winner Oxbow and stablemate Will Take Charge will van to Belmont Park on Monday to compete in the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes on June 8, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said by telephone on Friday.
Lukas said the duo will depart Churchill Downs at 4 a.m. on Monday and are scheduled to arrive at Belmont Park at approximately 6 p.m.
Yesterday, Brad Kelley’s Oxbow breezed six furlongs at Churchill in 1:14 3/5 and Willis D. Horton’s Will Take Charge, seventh in the Preakness, traveled the same distance in 1:15 4/5.
“They’re both doing great, or else I wouldn’t be putting them on a van,” said Lukas. “After they arrive at Belmont they’ll gallop up to the race. All of their major work is done.”
Also confirmed for the Belmont Stakes is Incognito, most recently fifth, beaten less than a half-length for third, in the Grade 2 Peter Pan on May 11.
“Mainly, he wants the distance,” said trainer Kiaran McLaughlin of the colt, a son of 1992 Belmont winner A.P. Indy and multiple Grade 1 winner Octave. “It’s a big step up in class, but the 1 ½ miles is a big factor if you can’t get it. We’ll take a page out of our ex-boss’s [D. Wayne Lukas] book from the Preakness; we feel he deserves a chance.”
Incognito put together back-to-back victories at Aqueduct Racetrack in a maiden race and an optional claimer, both at a mile, before checking in 15 lengths behind Freedom Child, who won by 13 ¼ lengths.
“His last race was a throwout,” said McLaughlin. “He doesn’t face kickback well, and he got a lot of it in that race. We’ve got everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by running.”
McLaughlin said Incognito will race in the Godolphin silks and have the services of Irad Ortiz, Jr. for the Belmont, replacing injured jockey Mike Luzzi.
“Irad had good luck with [multiple Grade 1 winner] Questing in those silks,” he said. “We won the Belmont with a 19-year-old jockey [Fernando Jara aboard Jazil in 2006], we’re hoping we can win with a 20-year-old jockey.”
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez shipped Vyjack to Belmont Park this morning from his base at Aqueduct Racetrack and said the gelding will remain at Belmont as he trains up to a possible start in the Belmont Stakes.
“He was looking around a little bit, more than I wanted, but it was his first day at Belmont,” said Rodriguez.
After winning the Grade 3 Gotham in March, Vyjack was third in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and 18th in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.
“We’ve been very, very happy for the last two weeks with how he’s coming up,” said Rodriguez. “He looks very good, he’s filling up nice, and I think he was growing a little [coming into the Kentucky Derby] and it took a little more out of him than we were expecting, but he seems pretty good right now. He’s happy, and he’s enjoying himself.”
Rodriguez said he and owner David Wilkenfeld will make a final decision on Vyjack’s status for the Belmont Stakes after the gelding breezes at Belmont on Monday or Tuesday.
Joel Rosario, who rode Vyjack in the Gotham and Wood Memorial, could ride Vyjack in the Belmont Stakes if Orb’s connections opt out of the Belmont Stakes. If Orb does run, then Jose Lezcano or Cornelio Velasquez could ride Vyjack, Rodriguez said.
“We’re still hoping that maybe they won’t run Orb,” said Rodriguez. “That’s pretty much what we’re waiting for.”