Belmont Stakes Day Notes June 10, 2011

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Belmont Stakes Day Notes June 10, 2011

Story by: NYRA Press Office

  • A relaxed Animal Kingdom has easy gallop for Belmont Stakes
  • Shackleford gallops, schools in paddock; all systems go for Belmont
  • Nehro continues to exceed Asmussen’s expectations
  • Mucho Macho Man brings publicity to organ donation
  • Speed could be Master of Hounds’ weapon of choice in Belmont
  • Brilliant Speed set for “Test of the Champion”
  • Still waters run deep for Santiva
  • Prime Cut has final gallop
  • Despite uncertain travel plans, Ruler On Ice set for Belmont Stakes
  • Stay Thirsty looking to perform rare sweep
  • Correas expecting Monzon to move forward
  • Isn’t He Perfect exemplifies Shivmangal’s training philosophy
  • Brooklyn-Belmont Double available online


One day out from a start in the 143rd running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Stakes, trainer Graham Motion was looking for virtually nothing to happen with his Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness runner-up, Animal Kingdom.


Driving back to his barn after Animal Kingdom turned in an easy gallop once around the main track at 9 a.m., Motion expressed something bordering on relief.


“No drama,” Motion said. “That’s what we’re looking for.”


With one of the most important races in the country in the offing, the mood remained exceedingly relaxed around Motion. As the trainer’s Triple Crown odyssey reaches its climax, he took time to reflect.


“It’s a great experience; it’s just not one you anticipate,” Motion said. “It’s not something you expect to do. I couldn’t anticipate what it would be like to go to the Preakness with the Derby winner. You’re the only one who can win the Triple Crown of all the horses in the country. Even coming here, coming back to do this… it’s great to be a part of it.”


Twice, Motion has run horses in the Belmont Stakes, a sixth-place finish with Chilito in 1998 and an eighth 10 years after that with Icabad Crane. This year, however, is different because he wanted to reach the American classic races with the right horse and he has.


“That was my agenda, to do it with a horse that took you there,” he said. “Even with [2010 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner] Shared Account, people would think she didn’t belong in the Breeders’ Cup and same with Better Talk Now. Sometimes we take a shot that we think we have.


“It’s been a lot of fun, and it’s a lot of fun to do it with a horse like this. It wouldn’t be as much fun with a horse that wasn’t as talented. He’s such a pleasure to be around.”


Motion said the decision to run Animal Kingdom in the Belmont was made without the pressure that the Kentucky Derby winner faces to run in the Preakness.


“We wouldn’t have come if he hadn’t done so well since then.”




Preakness winner Shackleford galloped around Belmont Park’s 1 ½-mile main oval after the break this morning with owners Bill and Donna Cubbedge and Michael and Kim Lauffer looking on.


It was the owners’ willingness to put up the money to enter the Florida Derby on the heels of Shackleford’s disappointing outing in the Fountain of Youth that led to him being here, said trainer Dale Romans. He noted the colt’s second-place finish gave him enough graded stakes earnings to run in the Kentucky Derby, in which he finished fourth.


“You know, $15,000 isn’t chump change when a horse is coming off a 20-length loss,” said Romans. “If they had been a little hesitant, he probably wouldn’t have run. Training horses is all about the little decisions – there are so many you have to make in a horse’s career.”




If anyone had asked trainer Steve Asmussen

 over the winter to pick a Triple Crown horse out of his stable, the name Nehrowouldn’t have come up.


Owned by Ahmed Zayat, Nehro didn’t make his race debut until last December, running fourth to Prime Cut in a six-furlong maiden sprint at Fair Grounds. From there he ran 10th of 11 in a one-mile event at Oaklawn Park in January before winning in a similar spot there four weeks later.


“When he came in, he was a nice horse,” Asmussen said. “We put a little time in him and felt like he would benefit from a little patience. We gave him time off in Kentucky and he came back in, and he has surprised us. He had one gate work over the winter in New Orleans that was impressive before he ever started, and a fairly good race for him first time out for a horse that you didn’t feel had a lot of speed.



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