Belmont Stakes Contender News & Notes: May 25, 2017

  • Champion Classic Empire, fourth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and second in the Grade 1 Preakness Stakes, is scheduled to begin his preparations for the final leg of the Triple Crown with a May 26 jog at Churchill Downs.
  • Following the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 10, Classic Empire is expected to target Monmouth Park’s Grade 1 Haskell Invitational on July 30 and Saratoga’s Grade 1 Travers Stakes on August 26 for his summer goals.
  • Classic Empire will stand at Coolmore’s Ashford Stud in Versailles, Ky., upon his retirement from racing.
  • Conditioner Todd Pletcher called Kentucky Derby sixth-place finisher Tapwrit “definite” for the Belmont Stakes.
  • Epicharis, who will be racing for a $1 million bonus put up by the New York Racing Association for a Japanese-based horse who can win the Belmont Stakes, entered quarantine in Japan on May 25 at the Miho Training Center, where he must be isolated for one week before shipping to New York.
  • Irish War Cry, 10th as the second betting choice in the Kentucky Derby, is expected to return to the work tab over the weekend of May 27 – 28 at the Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland and is under consideration for the Belmont Stakes.
  • The major summer target for Irish War Cry remains the $1 million Haskell.
  • Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin confirmed that True Timber, third in the LARC Sir Barton Stakes on the May 20 Preakness undercard, is being pointed to the Belmont Stakes.
  • Trainer Chad Brown said that Twisted Tom, a winner of two listed stakes at Laurel, is “likely” for the Belmont Stakes, despite the fact that he would need to be supplemented to the race for $75,000.


  • McCraken, who exited his eighth-place run in the Kentucky Derby with a small puncture wound in a leg, returned to the work tab at Churchill Downs on May 23 to prepare for a planned return in that track’s Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes on June 17.
  • Girvin, the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner who finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby, most likely will make his next start in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby on June 24 at Thistledown.
  • State of Honor, who set the Kentucky Derby pace and weakened to finish last of the 19 who completed the race, is aiming the Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown, on July 25 at Fort Erie.
  • Group 2 UAE Derby hero Thunder Snow, who was safely escorted off the Churchill Downs track after quickly aborting his Kentucky Derby start with a bizarre bucking incident out of the gate, is slated to return in the Grade 1 Tattersalls Irish Two Thousand Guineas at the Curragh on May 27.
  • LARC Sir Barton Stakes victor No Mo Dough, who is not Triple Crown-nominated, will be trained towards a return in Saratoga’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy Stakes on July 29.
  • Gulfstream Park’s Roar Stakes winner Classic Rock shipped from Florida to New York, where Kathy Ritvo’s charge will put his three-race win streak on the line in the G2 Woody Stephens Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard.
  • King and His Court, who captured Canada’s 2016 Sovereign Award for Champion 2-year-old Male, has returned to the work tab following his May 7 Wando Stakes score at Woodbine and is headed to that track’s July 2 Queen’s Plate, the first leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.