Some notes on potential Belmont runners

Here’s some updated news on a few of the probables for the Belmont Stakes on June 6, courtesy of Belmont Park publicity official Jenny Kellner:

Belmont Stakes contender Mr. Hot Stuff worked a bullet five furlongs over Polytrack at Keeneland Race Course Tuesday morning in preparation for a start in the 141st running of the Grade 1, $1 million “Test of the Champion” on Saturday, June 6 at Belmont Park.

The son of Tiznow was caught in 1:01.00, the fastest of 12 at the distance. It was Mr. Hot Stuff’s third work at Keeneland since finishing 15th in the Kentucky Derby (May 2), which was his first start on dirt.

“He went very well, easy enough, and there was plenty left in the tank” said trainer Eoin Harty from California. “He’s fit and ready to go.”

Mr. Hot Stuff, owned by WinStar Farm, will have the services of Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado in the 1-mile Belmont Stakes. Prado won the Belmont in 2002 aboard Sarava and again in 2004 on Birdstone.

Harty said he and Mr. Hot Stuff will most likely arrive in New York on June 3.

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Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Belmont hopefuls Flying Private, fourth in the Preakness, and Luv Gov, who was eighth at Pimlico, will work at Churchill Downs this week before a final decision is made whether to run in the $1 million race.

“I haven’t decided yet whether they will go in the race,” said Lukas from Louisville. “They’ll work midweek and then we’ll decide.”

Lukas has saddled 19 Belmont Stakes starters, with four wins – Tabasco Cat (1994), Thunder Gulch (1995), Editor’s Note (1996) and Commendable (2000). Lukas has not had a Belmont Stakes starter since A.P. Arrow ran fifth in 2005.

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Summer Bird, sixth in the Kentucky Derby, continues to train forwardly for the Belmont, trainer Tim Ice reported Tuesday.

“He had a good gallop this morning,” said Ice, who brought the Birdstone colt to New York early last week from Louisiana to prepare for the race. “The difference between him last week and this week is noticeable in the way he’s moving over the track.”

Summer Bird will have his final serious move for the Belmont on Saturday, going five furlongs with his new rider, Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux, up for the work. Ice originally had named Joe Talamo aboard Summer Bird, but changed plans and chose a rider more familiar with Belmont Park.

“The more I talked with people, the more important it seemed to have someone who really knows this track,” said Ice, who worked as an assistant with Desormeaux’s brother, trainer Keith Desormeaux, in Louisiana for five years. “I’m just glad Kent wanted to ride him in the Belmont.”

Desormeaux has had six Belmont Stakes starts, with two seconds, including a nose loss to Victory Gallop in 1998 that cost Real Quiet the Triple Crown. Desormeaux’s second Triple Crown chance was thwarted last year when his mount, Big Brown, did not finish the Belmont Stakes.

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