With less than two weeks to go before the June 5 Belmont Stakes the Horse Racing Nation list of possible starters stands at 13 after Midnight Bourbon was taken out of consideration to point instead to mid- to late summer races.
The field for the $1.5 million race will be drawn on Tuesday, June 1.
Here is an update on each of the possible starters.
Essential Quality. Undefeated before his fourth-place finish as the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, he worked five furlongs in a sharp 59.8 at Churchill Downs on Saturday for trainer Brad Cox. He is the early favorite in foreign books, best priced at 7-2 by Panama-based Bet Online and 3-1 by Bovada, based in Costa Rica.
Hot Rod Charlie. The third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.6 Saturday at Santa Anita. Trainer Doug O'Neill said the plan is for him to breeze there on Friday and ship to New York on Saturday. He'll be ridden by Flavien Prat, who guided Rombauer to his Preakness Stakes win.
Known Agenda. He worked five furlongs in 1:02.54 at Belmont Park on Friday with stablemate Dr Post. “I thought it was a good progressive breeze that should bring them both forward," said trainer Todd Pletcher. He closed from 17th to finish ninth in the Kentucky Derby.
Rock Your World. A disappointing 17th in the Kentucky Derby, he worked five furlongs in an official 1:01.2 at Santa Anita Park on Friday. “It went really well – we’re just trying to keep him healthy and fit,” said Juan Leyva, assistant to trainer John Sadler. He clocked Rock Your World in 1:00.4.
Rombauer. After the defection of Prat to Hot Rod Charlie, the Preakness winner will be piloted John Velazquez.
Rebel's Romance. The Ireland-bred winner of the UAE Derby (G2) worked five furlongs in 1:01.05 at Belmont Park on Saturday with stablemate Desert Peace. "Rebel stayed at the back of Desert Peace – we didn't want to ask him too hard," said Sophie Chretien, traveling assistant for trainer Charlie Appleby. "But he traveled much better than last time and went out seven-eighths."
Bourbonic. One of four possible starters for Pletcher, Bourbonic worked a half-mile in 48.82 Saturday at Belmont Park in company with Overtook, who also is expected to start for Pletcher. Bourbonic finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby after starting from the outside post.
Brooklyn Strong. Trainer Danny Velazquez is undecided whether to start the Remsen Stakes (G2) winner in the Belmont after he worked five furlongs in 1:02.25 at Parx on Saturday. "I don’t want to break his heart. That could happen. I’ve seen that happen. I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing." His 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby came after a difficult start.
Keepmeinmind. The Robertino Diodoro trainee finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and fourth in the Preakness. His only win in eight starts came in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) in November.
Get Her Number. Unraced since a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1), he last worked five furlongs in 1:03 on May 14 for trainer Peter Miller, who also is considering starting him in the May 31 Texas Derby.
Overtook. He finished third in the Peter Pan (G3) off a layoff, and Pletcher expects he will appreciate the added distance of the Belmont. “He's a steady, one-run kind of horse, and the Peter Pan didn't develop with much pace. I thought considering that, he actually ran pretty well,” Pletcher said.
Promise Keeper. Pletcher's fourth possible starter and winner of the Peter Pan worked a half-mile in 48.62 in company with Colonel Liam at Belmont on Friday. Pletcher said he is likely to aim Promise Keeper to the Ohio Derby (G3) on June 26 at Thistledown but will keep the Belmont Stakes under consideration.
France Go de Ina. The Japanese import, seventh in the Preakness Stakes, arrived at Belmont Park on Monday. Masaki Takano, traveling assistant for trainer Hideyuki Mori, said: “Over the course of the time that he’s been here, he’s been able to get used to the American style of doing things. That’s helped him relax into the routine, and hopefully it will lead to a better performance in the future.”