By Bill Finley
After giving some thought to passing the race, trainer Bob Baffert said he is leaning toward starting Charlatan (Speightstown) in the GI Belmont S. June 20.
Baffert had been considering running Charlatan the GI seven-furlong Woody Stephens S., also June 20, and Nadal (Blame) in the Belmont. But Nadal was injured last week and retired.
“I was thinking about running Charlatan in the Woody Stephens and then the Haskell because I had Nadal for the Belmont. Now that has changed,” he said.
Charlatan is scheduled to breeze Monday morning. Baffert said he will have a final decision regarding the Belmont after the colt has another workout the following week.
“I am leaning toward the Belmont,” he said. “The next work will be an easy half-mile. We’ll know for sure after his work the next week. Right now, I would say it is the Belmont.”
Charlatan won a division of the GI Arkansas Derby in his last start. According to published reports, the horse tested positive for the banned substance lidocaine, which could result in his being disqualified. The Arkansas Racing Commission is awaiting results of a split sample that was sent to a referee lab. The Belmont will be limited to 16 starters, but it doesn’t appear that the race will be oversubscribed.
The Belmont may also include Maxfield (Street Sense), the winner of the GIII Matt Winn S. Trainer Brendan Walsh has yet to announce his next start.