Gettysburg’s pacesetting set the table in the Arkansas Derby (G1) for Creator (right) and Suddenbreakingnews; photo courtesy of Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography
Edited NYRA press release
Early Monday afternoon, trainer Steve Asmussen informed New York Racing Association officials that Gettysburg, a horse he recently received from WinStar Farm LLC to train, will be entered in Saturday’s $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1).
Gettysburg, a winner of one race in seven starts, figures to supply the pace that was absent in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes before he was declared a starter. Asmussen also trains Creator, a closer, for WinStar. Likely Belmont Stakes favorite Exaggerator, another horse who is expected to come from off the pace, also has a connection to WinStar – he will stand stud at the Kentucky farm upon the conclusion of his racing career.
Gettysburg was until recently trained by Todd Pletcher, who has two starters in the Belmont Stakes for connections other than WinStar, Destin and Stradivari. Those horses, until Gettysburg arrived on the scene, looked likely to play a role in the early pace of the Belmont. Paco Lopez is scheduled to ride Gettysburg.
Creator breezed on the Belmont Park training track on Monday, clocking a half-mile in :50.93. The Asmussen-trained colt completed his first workout since arriving at Belmont, going solo with exercise rider Jesus Vinegas aboard. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be in the irons for Creator in the Belmont.
“We’re very happy, he worked nice and steady with a good rhythm,” said Toby Sheets, assistant to Asmussen.
Sheets said Creator will walk on Tuesday. The Arkansas Derby (G1) winner went to the training track after Sheets checked both tracks at 4:30 a.m. (EDT).
Creator, who arrived at Belmont from Churchill late last week, looked comfortable on the training track when he arrived just after 6 a.m. and was energetic in a post-workout roll in the round pen.
“He actually loves it here,” Sheets said. “It’s much quieter than Churchill, so that makes a big difference. His antics are a little less here.”
Creator will be making his first start since a 13th-place showing in the Kentucky Derby (G1) last month. The son of Tapit is 2-4-1 in nine career starts and will be making his Belmont Park debut.
Suddenbreakingnews was sent out onto the Churchill Downs strip Monday morning by Donnie K. Von Hemel for his final breeze and the trainer pronounced him fine, fit and ready to fire on Saturday.
With Joe Rocco Jr. in the irons, the Southwest (G3) winner covered four furlongs in :49.48 on a fast track.
“Basically, we were just letting him stretch his legs a little before we put him on the plane tomorrow,” said Von Hemel, who booked the horse on the Tex Sutton charter scheduled to depart Louisville with some of the other contenders for the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, arriving at Islip-MacAruthur Airport Tuesday afternoon. “Everything is good and it’s all systems go.
“I’m excited to bring this horse up there because I think the horse has a real chance. I’m looking forward to Saturday. You always think your horse is peaking at the right time and is the best he can be when you go into a race like this, but we’re very happy with the way he’s doing. We wouldn’t be coming otherwise.”