First Dude Looks Sharp
FIRST DUDE LOOKS SHARP
Two candidates for Saturday's 142nd Belmont Stakes turned in their final major workouts yesterday at Belmont Park.
First Dude, who figures to be the second or third betting choice coming off a dazzling second-place finish in the Preakness, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.12 for trainer Dale Romans. Uptowncharlybrown, a live longshot, went the same distance in 1:01.34 for Kiaran McLaughin.
"It looked like [First Dude] was just galloping," Romans said. "Just getting a few trips over this track is good. He looked like he got a lot out of it, and I'm glad we came in early to train over this deeper track.
"He's a great, big horse, and the big sweeping turns here will help him. He's got a big, loping stride, and we keep thinking a mile-and-a-half is going to be right up his alley. He's handled everything we've given him and bounced right back."
When they run for the white carnations on Saturday, neither Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver nor Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky will be in the starting gate. It is just the third time in 40 years that the winner or winners of the first two jewels of the Triple Crown won't contest the "Test of the Champion."
In 1970, Dust Commander (Derby) and Personality (Preakness) both took a pass. Then in 2006, Derby hero Barbaro broke down in the Preakness, and the Preakness winner, Bernardini, watched the Belmont from his barn.
The winner that year, Jazil, was trained by McLaughlin, who hopes lightning strikes again.
Formerly trained by Alan Seewald, who passed away in April, Uptowncharlybrown is owned by Fantasy Lane Stable, a partnership with 59 members. The late-blooming son of Limehouse made his first start on Dec. 26 at Tampa Bay Downs, winning by nine lengths, then took Tampa's Pasco Stakes by six before finishing third in the Sam F. Davis and fifth in the Tampa Bay Derby. Last out, he rallied for third in the April 17 Lexington.
"We were looking for :48, up in 1:01, so it went well," McLaughlin said of yesterday's drill. "The distance [of the Belmont] is a question mark, but it's a question mark for everybody. This horse has a big stride and gallops out strong. He's a pretty straightforward horse that does everything right, and he came from good hands, so we're just training on."
"I wish the Belmont were today instead of next week," McLaughlin said. "He's ready to go, so we're happy."
by Ed Fountaine
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