By Bill Finley
Audible (Into Mischief), who most believed was the main threat to ‘TDN Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy) in the GI Belmont S., is no longer being considered for the final leg of the Triple Crown, reports Elliott Walden, the president and CEO of the colt’s co-owner, WinStar Farm.
The story was first reported by the Daily Racing Form’s David Grening.
Audible and Justify are owned by the same partners, and that could have created one of the more unusual and potentially awkward situations in Triple Crown history. The owners of Justify potentially could have cost their horse a Triple Crown sweep by beating him with another horse they own. Now, it’s a moot point.
Walden said the decision not to run Audible was not a matter of ducking Justify. Rather, he said the decision was made by Audible’s trainer, Todd Pletcher. Walden said Pletcher was not pleased with the way the colt was training after his third-place finish in the GI Kentucky Derby. Pletcher had scheduled a work for Audible Friday morning at Belmont but decided to gallop him instead.
“I know people are going to wonder about Audible and all that, but Todd called me yesterday and said he didn’t want to work him this morning,” Walden said. “He wanted to give him a little more time. I told him it was completely up to him. I was for running (Audible). I think we showed that by running Quip (Distorted Humor) in the Preakness. These are good problems to have and we’re blessed to have so many good horse. We just want to do what’s best for each individual horse.
“It was really up to Todd. Todd decided that he didn’t want to run him. He felt like he wasn’t back to where he was before the Derby and wanted to give him a little more time”
WinStar will still enter a competitor to Justify in the Belmont. Walden said ‘TDN Rising Star’ Noble Indy (Take Charge Indy), which it owns in partnership with Mike Repole, worked well Friday and is being pointed for the race. Noble Indy won the GII Louisiana Derby before finishing 17th in the Kentucky Derby. While a quality horse, Noble Indy isn’t as accomplished Audible, whose biggest win came in the GI Florida Derby.
“With Noble Indy, Mike and I have been talking about it for a week and decided to see how he was doing,” Walden said. “He worked head and head with Vino Rosso (Curlin) and Javier (Castellano) thought he worked great. We’re going to proceed through next work and if he’s doing as well as he is now he will run.”
Walden said he is fine with tackling Justify with horses owned by WinStar and its partners. They already did just that with Quip in the Preakness. Quip, the winner of the GII Tampa Bay Derby, was sent off at 12-1, but did not fire. He finished last.
“I don’t think anybody is going to beat Justify in the Belmont if Justify runs his race,” he said. “I feel very good about that. He’s doing really well and came out of the Preakness in good shape. The idea behind running Audible or Noble Indy in the Belmont was, if for some reason Justify doesn’t run his ‘A’ race, somebody else has to win and we would feel stupid if we had a contender and didn’t run him in there.”
Walden said there were no firm plans for Audible but speculated he would be pointed for one of the big summer races, the GII Jim Dandy, the GI Travers or the GI Haskell.