ELMONT, NY – A trio of top-notch 3-year-olds will fight to make trainer Todd Pletcher proud in the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) at Belmont Park on June 20.
Live racing resumes at Belmont Park on June 3, and like so many others in the industry, Pletcher is looking forward to it.
“We’re all looking forward to New York racing getting back underway,” said Pletcher. “It’s an important part of the industry and arguably the most important in the United States. It’s great to see racing approaching reopening at Belmont Park.”
Pletcher has saddled the Belmont Stakes winner three times and the runner-up five more. His victories came in 2017 (with Tapwrit), 2013 (Palace Malice), and 2007 (Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the race in over 100 years).
Eclipse Thoroughbred Parters, who owned Tapwrit, is hoping to find more success this year with the Pletcher-trained Farmington Road, whom they co-own with Chrysalis Stables and Robert LaPenta. After breaking his maiden in his first 2020 start, the Quality Road colt finished fourth in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and the Arkansas Derby (G1), as well as a late-running second in the Oaklawn Stakes sandwiched in between.
“He’s a horse that likes to drop back and make one run,” said Pletcher. “He’d benefit from a good, solid pace and unfortunately we’ve found ourselves in a few races where there hasn’t been much pace on. He’s still closed well, but would certainly benefit from a hot pace up front.”
A second Quality Road colt vying for Pletcher’s attention heading into the Belmont Stakes is Dr Post, owned by St. Elias Stable, who also co-campaigned the Pletcher-trained 2017 Kentucky Derby (G1) winner Always Dreaming. Like Farmington Road, Dr Post broke his maiden in his 2020 debut, then followed that with a hard-fought victory in the Unbridled Stakes in his first time facing winners, going two turns, and tackling stakes rivals.
Pletcher compared Dr Post favorably to Quality Road, who won seven stakes (including four at the Grade 1 level) during his racing career. Pletcher would know as well as anyone – Quality Road earned over $2.2 million while under Pletcher’s care.
“Everything we’ve seen from (Dr Post) reminds us of his sire,” Pletcher said. “He’s versatile enough that he can run multiple distances, but we’ve always felt like he was looking for more ground. Certainly, to go from a maiden win to a stakes race like he did against seasoned horses, we felt he handled that step up in class pretty well. We like the way he’s been training, and if he continues to train like he is, we’ll focus on the Belmont.”
Gouverneur Morris is perhaps Pletcher’s most seasoned and battle-tested Belmont Stakes probable. Since debuting with a victory, he has knocked heads with several of the crop’s best and proven himself to be a tough competitor:
- He finished second in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) behind the undefeated Maxfield, who recently won the Matt Winn Stakes (G3)
- He finished fourth in the Florida Derby (G1) behind Tiz the Law, who sits on or very near the top of seemingly every Kentucky Derby contender leaderboard
- He finished third in the Arkansas Derby (G1) behind the undefeated Charlatan and a neck behind Basin, winner of the Hopeful Stakes (G1)
“He didn’t have a bad trip in the Arkansas Derby, but at the same time, he was never really able to settle into the rhythm you’d like him to,” Pletcher said. “He always had horses inside and outside of him and in front of him, and he was always in an awkward position, so I thought it was encouraging that he continued on and tried to the wire.”
According to the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the following horses are probable for the Belmont Stakes:
- Basin (trainer Steve Asmussen)
- Charlatan (Bob Baffert)
- Dr Post (Pletcher)
- Farmington Road (Pletcher)
- Gouverneur Morris (Pletcher)
- Max Player (Linda Rice)
- Modernist (Bill Mott)
- Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone)
- Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg)
According to the New York Racing Association (NYRA), the following horses are possible for the Belmont Stakes:
- Maxfield (Brendan Walsh)
- Ny Traffic (Saffie Joseph, Jr.)
- Shivaree (Ralph Nicks)