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Preakness runner-up Cherry Wine, fifth-placer Lani expected for Belmont Stakes

By TwinSpires Staff

Edited Press Release

A start in the Belmont S. (G1) appears likely for Cherry Wine following his rallying second-place run in Saturday’s Preakness S. (G1) at Pimlico, trainer Dale Romans said Sunday morning.

A 17-1 shot, Cherry Wine rallied from far back under jockey Corey Lanier and edged past Kentucky Derby (G1) victor Nyquist in the final strides to grab second in the Preakness.

Cherry Wine, who is based at Churchill Downs, will be flown to Kentucky on Monday, said Romans, who is also planning to run Kentucky Derby seventh-place finisher Brody’s Cause in the Belmont.

Brody’s Cause put in his first workout since the Kentucky Derby on Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, breezing five furlongs in 1:01. Churchill Downs clockers caught Brody’s Cause in :24 and :48 with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:15.20.

“We’ll go back to Kentucky and evaluate,” Romans said. “Everything being equal, we’ll be in the Belmont. I’m coming up early. I’ll know by the end of the week if we’re going to go and start preparing.

“He’s fine. He bounces back. He’s a happy horse. I don’t think a mile and a half will be an issue.”

Romans expressed his satisfaction with Cherry Wine’s trip Saturday.

“I told Corey in the paddock, the only instructions I gave were, ‘Give him that Mine That Bird trip,’” said Romans, referring to Mine That Bird’s rail-skimming victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. “But the last thing I said was, ‘Make sure you catch the last one.’ He didn’t catch the last one. He didn’t listen.”

Lanerie finished behind another Cajun jockey, Kent Desormeaux, who was on Exaggerator.

“Desormeaux’s the best jockey in the country,” Romans said. “I’ve said it for years, when he’s on his game, he makes things happen that others can’t do. He’s just a magician on the back of a horse.”

Romans also praised the connections of Nyquist, whose undefeated status ended.

“They put it out there,” he said. “They didn’t try to hide him. They put him out with the best. They’ve kept him on course and tried to win a Triple Crown with him. My hat is off to them. They’re true sportsmen. It doesn’t diminish his reputation to lose a race. (Trainer Doug O’Neill) can keep his head held high. The stress of trying to keep one undefeated must be enormous.”

Nyquist was just denied second but held stakes debuter Stradivari to fourth by a half-length. Trainer Todd Pletcher was pleased with the effort Stradivari gave in the Preakness while making just his fourth lifetime start.

The Medaglia d’Oro colt rated in midpack after breaking from Post 11 and raced in contention with eventual winner Exaggerator on the far turn. Carried six wide straightening for home, he remained a solid presence into midstretch.

“We were asking a lot of him. We were doing it because we think a lot of him,” Pletcher said by phone Sunday morning. “To draw the far outside post on a sloppy track and your stakes debut being the Preakness against a lot more experienced and seasoned horses, I thought he made a very good account of himself only beaten four lengths and just missed second. Very proud of his effort. I think he’s a horse that should improve from the race and hopefully he’s got a big summer ahead of him.”

Pletcher said Stradivari emerged from the race well and left Pimlico Race Course early Sunday morning on his way back to Belmont Park.

It remained unclear whether Stradivari would come back in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, the last and longest leg of the Triple Crown on June 11. He had won his previous two starts, separated by 4 1/2 months, by a combined 25 lengths.

“He seemed to cool out very well and came back in good shape. We look forward to getting him back here and assessing him over the next few days to see what to do next,” Pletcher said.

“I don’t want to say just yet what his next start will be. We’ve got races like the Travers (G1) in mind down the road but how we go about getting there is a little early to say. I wouldn’t rule anything out at this point but I think we’ll spend the next couple of weeks just kind of assessing how he took the race and how he trains and that’ll help clarify which direction to go.”

Pletcher already has Grade 2 winner Destin set to make his next start in the Belmont. Destin skipped the Preakness after finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby.

“Destin worked Friday (:48.20 half-mile) and worked well, and is on schedule for the Belmont,” he said.

Koji Maeda’s Lani headed back to New York early Sunday morning following his fifth-place finish in the Preakness. He is on course to complete the Triple Crown series in the Belmont Stakes before heading back to Japan.

Keita Tanaka, the agent for the owner, said the gray son of Tapit came out of the race in good shape. Lani won the U.A.E Derby (UAE-G2) in late March to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. He closed from far back to finish ninth in the Kentucky Derby.

In the Preakness, he rallied in the stretch, passing five horses and finished five lengths behind the winning Exaggerator. Tanaka said the colt’s connections were pleased with his performance.

“They are satisfied with how he ran,” he said. “I think he will be very promising in the Belmont Stakes.”

Cherry Wine photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com
Stradivari photo courtesy of Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club
Lani photo courtesy of Cecilia Gustavsson/Horsephotos.com