Asmussen: Nehro’s prep for Belmont ‘best work I’ve seen him lay down’
Nehro continued his preparation for the June 11 Belmont Stakes with a six-furlong work in company over the Churchill Downs main track Monday morning. The Kentucky Derby runner-up, under exercise rider Carlos Rosas, galloped into the work with Zayat stablemate, Dominus, and completed the distance over a fast track in 1:12.20.
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Zayat Stables’ Nehro, runner-up to Animal Kingdom in the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs on May 7, displayed his readiness for a bid for the $1 million Belmont Stakes (GI) with a sharp six-furlong work on Monday at Churchill Downs.
Nehro, with regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas in the irons, worked inside of 3-year-old stablemate Dominus, the runner-up to Machen in the April 30 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (GIII) at Churchill Downs, and covered the distance over a fast track in 1:12.20.
The six-furlong move was a sharp effort for Nehro, who has also registered runner-up finishes in the Arkansas Derby (GI) and Louisiana Derby (GII), and it got a busy Memorial Day off to a good start for trainer Steve Asmussen.
“I was very pleased with the move,” Asmussen said. “Obviously we stuck Nehro in company and asked him for a good work. It was the best work I’ve seen him lay down.”
The son of 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft covered the six furlongs in fractional times of :12, :24.20, :36.20, :48 and 1:00. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:25.60 and a mile in 1:39.
After a rainy spring in Kentucky and a seemingly endless run of wet training surfaces, Asmussen was happy to see clear skies and a fast track for Nehro’s move.
“In his defense, it’s probably the first time he’s got to work on a fast track in about two months,” Asmussen said. “I think you saw why we were not wanting a sloppy track for the Derby.”
The work is the final major training move for Nehro at Churchill Downs prior to the 1 ½-mile final jewel of the Triple Crown at Belmont Park. Asmussen has a barn and division at the New York track and he said Nehro would probably depart for Belmont Park on Thursday evening, with a final pre-Belmont Stakes work would come over the track’s sprawling dirt surface early next week.
“That’s been something we’ve talked about that we had to get through this work to decide,” Asmussen said. “You don’t mind that, having the barn there and everything.”
It was a hectic morning for Asmussen, who supervised several works at Churchill Downs on Monday before departing shortly before 9 a.m. (all times EDT) to catch a flight to Texas, where he will saddle four horses competing on Lone Star Million Day at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.
But the planets and stars seemed to be aligned on Memorial Day for Nehro, as perfect late spring weather, a dry and fast training surface and a strong work by the Kentucky Derby runner-up had Asmussen looking toward his colt’s bid for the Belmont Stakes and beyond.
“I feel really good about Nehro and the rest of the year for him,” Asmussen said.