Rich Strike yes, Preakness champ Early Voting no for Belmont

There won't be a showdown between the surprise Derby champion and the Preakness winner. Early Voting’s owner and trainer confirmed the colt will bypass the Belmont.

Associated Press

May 23, 2022, 2:31 PM

Updated 694 days ago

Share:

Rich Strike yes, Preakness champ Early Voting no for Belmont
Twelve hours before Early Voting won the Preakness, Kentucky Derby champion Rich Strike was back on the track at Churchill Downs to begin preparations for the Belmont Stakes.
After impressing with a strong workout, Rich Strike remains on track for the third leg of the Triple Crown. Trainer Eric Reed confirmed to The Associated Press on Sunday the plan is “absolutely” still to run Rich Strike in the Belmont.
But there won't be a showdown between the surprise Derby champion and the Preakness winner. Early Voting’s owner and trainer confirmed the colt will bypass the Belmont; they plan to run him this summer with the ultimate goal of getting him ready for the $1.25 million Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York on Aug. 27.
Owner Seth Klarman and trainer Chad Brown cast doubt on the Belmont minutes after Early Voting held off favorite Epicenter to win the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, citing the mile-and-a-half distance as an obstacle.
“There will be some racing before (the Travers),” Brown said. "We’ll get him back to Belmont, assess him, train him a bit and then start to map out a campaign that hopefully leads us to the Midsummer Derby.”
Epicenter, the first horse in a decade to finish second in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, likely won't be brought back for the Belmont, which would be a third race in five weeks. Owner Ron Winchell said "that's a stretch” based on Epicenter's recent schedule.
Owner Rick Dawson prioritized extra rest for Rich Strike after the 80-1 long shot won the Derby rather than pushing for a return two weeks later in the Preakness, which was won by a well-rested horse off a six-week layoff. Reed on Saturday called skipping the Preakness “one of the toughest decisions” he has made and added he thought Rich Strike wouldn't have been mentally ready for the race.
The plan is now for Rich Strike to stay at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, through the end of the month before traveling to New York.
“He does so well here I just didn’t want to change anything yet,” Reed said. “He’ll get eight or nine days at Belmont to gallop and get used to the surface.”
Little-known jockey Sonny Leon is expected to ride Rich Strike in the Belmont after engineering the perfect trip to win the Derby.
It took a horse being withdrawn from the Derby to get Rich Strike into the field just before the deadline. That horse, Ethereal Road, came from behind to win the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard Saturday.
"We can definitely build off this," said 86-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who started second-guessing himself for not letting Ethereal Road run in the Derby.
But there's still a chance of Ethereal Road running in a Triple Crown race. After winning the Sir Barton at 1 1/16 miles, jockey Luis Saez didn't seem worried about the longer Belmont.
“Oh yeah, he can run all day," Saez said. “He can definitely go longer.”
Lukas-trained filly Secret Oath, who finished fourth in the Preakness, won't run in the Belmont. Lukas said last week the ideal roadmap for the Kentucky Oaks winner includes Saratoga races in July and August and one at Parx outside Philadelphia in September before the Breeders' Cup in early November.
A couple of other Preakness horses are Belmont candidates, most notably third-place finisher Creative Minister. Trainer Kenny McPeek said the Belmont is the plan because Creative Minister's pedigree indicates the longer distance will help.
“I just think he’ll like the added ground, as long as he handles the surface up there," McPeek said.
Skippylongstocking, who was fifth, could also go to the Belmont. But trainer Saffie Joseph isn't in a hurry to make a decision until next week.
“It might be worth taking a shot at it,” Joseph said. “We’ll see how he comes out and see how his energy is and then decide.”
By STEPHEN WHYNO (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)


More from News 12
2:14
No layoffs in Sachem School District; multimillion-dollar budget shortfall remains

No layoffs in Sachem School District; multimillion-dollar budget shortfall remains

1:32
Chances for showers next 2 days; cooler trend for rest of workweek

Chances for showers next 2 days; cooler trend for rest of workweek

2:06
School superintendent: No major cuts to programs or school closures this year in Long Beach

School superintendent: No major cuts to programs or school closures this year in Long Beach

1:34
West Islip BOE approves $139M budget as parents address safety concerns

West Islip BOE approves $139M budget as parents address safety concerns

1:40
West Islip student accused of bringing gun, bullets to high school pleads not guilty

West Islip student accused of bringing gun, bullets to high school pleads not guilty

0:33
Adventureland opens Tuesday for people with autism and their loved ones

Adventureland opens Tuesday for people with autism and their loved ones

0:23
Police: Tractor-trailer filled with potatoes goes up in flames on LIE

Police: Tractor-trailer filled with potatoes goes up in flames on LIE

1:04
Driver in fatal shooting of Detective Jonathan Diller pleads not guilty

Driver in fatal shooting of Detective Jonathan Diller pleads not guilty

1:59
State budget tentative agreement allows school boards to move forward

State budget tentative agreement allows school boards to move forward

1:30
DEC: 3rd layer discovered under chemical drums already uncovered at Bethpage park

DEC: 3rd layer discovered under chemical drums already uncovered at Bethpage park

0:22
Police: 2 officers injured while making arrest at Bellerose 7-Eleven

Police: 2 officers injured while making arrest at Bellerose 7-Eleven

0:30
Police: 23-year-old charged for scrawling antisemitic graffiti in East Meadow

Police: 23-year-old charged for scrawling antisemitic graffiti in East Meadow

1:52
‘Wastewater Olympics’ held in East Rockaway ahead of Earth Day

‘Wastewater Olympics’ held in East Rockaway ahead of Earth Day

1:50
Made on Long Island: Ronance Mouthwatering Morsels in Bellmore

Made on Long Island: Ronance Mouthwatering Morsels in Bellmore

1:32
Nassau Community College professors call on state to step in to help school survive

Nassau Community College professors call on state to step in to help school survive

Police: Driver arrested for fatal Brentwood hit-and-run

Police: Driver arrested for fatal Brentwood hit-and-run

1:39
Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue

Paws & Pals: Dogs up for adoption at Almost Home Animal Rescue

4:39
Guide: Ways to help you identify and deal with work burnout

Guide: Ways to help you identify and deal with work burnout

1:49
Officials: Fire dispatcher's wife alerts him about blaze at their Centereach home

Officials: Fire dispatcher's wife alerts him about blaze at their Centereach home

0:32
State police: Trooper conducting traffic stop rear-ended on Meadowbrook State Parkway

State police: Trooper conducting traffic stop rear-ended on Meadowbrook State Parkway