A trio of Belmont Stakes probables turned in their final breezes on Saturday morning across the country. J Boys Echo worked five furlongs in 1:00 flat at Churchill Downs, Multiplier worked a half in :48.60 at Keeneland, and Gormley breezed seven furlongs in 1:25.60 at Santa Anita, according to drf.com.
Albaugh Family Stables' J Boys Echo, Gotham (Grade III) winner and, most recently, 15th in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI), breezed five furlongs in1:00 Saturday morning at Churchill Downs in preparation for a start in the June 10 Belmont Stakes (GI).
“I think this is the best he's ever worked,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He's been training great and will ship to New York Tuesday morning.”
J Boys Echo, ridden by regular exercise rider Tammy Fox, breezed in company with Reedini (inside), with jockey Robby Albarado up, through splits of :23 and :47.40 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:13.80.
Albarado was confirmed to ride J Boys Echo in the Belmont Stakes by Albaugh Family Stables' Racing Manager Jason Loutsch on Saturday via Twitter.
“I'm part of Dale's team,” Albarado said. “I certainly wouldn't want to hurt the team. So, if my body's ready, I'm excited to ride the horse.”
Albarado is scheduled to ride two horses on Thursday's card at Churchill Downs – his first mounts since he fractured his left leg in a spill at Keeneland on April 23. The Louisiana-native was scheduled to ride J Boys Echo in the Kentucky Derby prior to his injury.
Along with J Boys Echo, likely Belmont Stakes favorite, Classic Empire will fly to Belmont Park on Tuesday morning.
Multiplier, the Grade 3 Illinois Derby winner who was sixth in the Preakness Stakes, worked a half-mile in 48 3/5 seconds in company with regular workmate War Union at Keeneland.
Trainer Brendan Walsh was aboard for the drill, with Multiplier to be ridden by Joel Rosario in the Belmont. A Keeneland workout tab was not available, but Walsh said Multiplier galloped out in “1:01 and change.”
Multiplier also isn't the most impressive work horse. “He worked great,” Walsh said. “Everything went according to plan, so we're all set for the Belmont. It was good, just a routine work. Nothing special. He's fit and ready to go. We just wanted to make sure everything was in order, and it is. So we're going.”
Santa Anita Derby winner Gormley worked seven furlongs in 1:26.20 under regular rider Victor Espinoza following the 9 a.m. renovation break Saturday morning, after which trainer John Shirreffs said he was undecided on whether the son of Malibu Moon would run in the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes a week from today, Saturday, June 10.
“Victor was very pleased with the work, and I thought the horse looked sensational,” Shirreffs said, “but we haven't made up our minds yet (on the Belmont). I haven't discussed it with Mr. Moss (part owner Jerry Moss), and we haven't talked about the logistics of shipping.”
Gormley worked solo for the first time and with blinkers on for the first time.
Santa Anita clockers caught the bay colt in fractional times of 24.60, 36.80, 48.80, 1:00.80 and 1:13 for six furlongs, with a one mile gallop out clocking of 1:40.60.
Gormley did not run in the Preakness on May 20 after finishing ninth by more than 14 lengths in the May 6 Kentucky Derby, in which he was fourth at the mile marker in the mile-and-a-quarter race, less than three lengths behind leader and eventual winner Always Dreaming.
Belmont Stakes contender Twisted Tom had his final tune-up Saturday for the Grade 1, $1.5 million “Test of the Champion,” covering five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.13 shortly after the renovation break.
With exercise rider Peter Roman aboard and working in company with Met Mile contender Economic Model, the gelded son of Creative Cause was caught galloping out in 1:13 4/5.
“He executed it perfectly,” said trainer Chad Brown of Twisted Tom, a New York-bred grandson of 1995 Belmont Stakes and Kentucky Derby winner Thunder Gulch. “We wanted a nice, steady five-eighths.”
It was the sixth move, three at Saratoga Race Course and three at Belmont, for Twisted Tom since his 2 ½-length victory in the Frederico Tesio on April 22 at Laurel Park.
“He's trained really well since the Tesio,” said Brown. “The Belmont has been our goal since then; we've been trying to figure out how to get him to the race. Obviously, it will be a big class test for him but I've been anxious to try him at 1 ½ miles.”
Twisted Tom is undefeated in three starts this year, all on dirt, taking a one-mile optional claimer on the inner track at Aqueduct Racetrack and the listed Private Terms at 1 1/16 miles at Laurel prior to his win over a sloppy track in the Tesio. He was purchased by Cobra Farm as a 2-year-old following a maiden victory on the turf at Belmont Park; in his first start for Brown last November he was sixth going a mile on the turf at the Big A.
Overall, he is 4-0-0 from six starts with earnings of $209,040.
Silverton Hill's Grade 3 Peter Pan runner-up Meantime breezed five-eighths over the Belmont Park main track Saturday morning, his final work ahead of a bid in the Belmont Stakes.
Meantime, a 3-year-old Shackleford colt trained by Brian Lynch, covered the distance in 1:01.66 with jockey Mike Luzzi aboard, and quickly caught up to another Lynch trainee, who had broken off about a sixteenth of a mile ahead of Meantime, as the pair galloped out around the clubhouse turn.
“It wasn't the most orthodox work,” said Lynch. “We tried to work him with another horse and the other horse broke off too far in front of him, but he had a good target to chase. The work was comfortable enough. [I] didn't want Mike to push on him too hard, we worked him quite quick last week, a little quicker than I wanted going into a long race. It was more of a comfort work today with a good gallop out, and inevitably he ended up catching the horse on the gallop out.
“When I look at the big picture, it probably was a pretty good work,” he added. “[He] went 1:01 and change and out in 1:14, so I think it was the work we were looking for. Watching him come off the track, he had minimal blow and seemed to have a good recovery rate. I think he's a pretty fit horse going into it, so I think we'll roll the dice and move forward.”
Meantime has been first or second through the early stages in each of his four career starts, including a 7 ½-length victory in a maiden special weight at Keeneland in April and a second-place finish to Timeline in the May 13 Peter Pan on a sloppy and sealed track, both at 1 1/8 miles.
“I think he's a horse that'll be up in the first tier of horses and a lot of the times that's where the Belmont is won,” said Lynch. “Whoever is one-two-three going into the first turn usually finishes one-two-three, so I think tactically, he's the right horse to try and do it with it. I think fitness-wise, the mile and a half will be a test, but he's as good as we can get him.”
Hall of Famer Mike Smith is confirmed for the mount, said Lynch.
“I hadn't really committed to a rider and he was available,” he explained. “So I thought, nobody better than a big money rider for a race like this, and I've got a long rapport with Mike from California years ago, so I think if he feels I'm going to take a shot, he'll take a shot with me. He's certainly a rider who shows up on big days and hopefully we've got an up-and-coming horse that provides the talent he needs to get it done.”
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