Cox Pointing Angel of Empire, Hit Show For Belmont

Angel of Empire | Coady


The prospective field for the GI Belmont S. picked up a pair of top contenders Monday when trainer Brad Cox confirmed that he is pointing Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) and Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}) to the final leg of the Triple Crown. Neither has run since the GI Kentucky Derby, where Angel of Empire, the favorite in the race, finished third and Hit Show was fifth.

“They both had their first works back after the Derby on Sunday and we're getting them ready to go for the Belmont,” Cox said. “They looked great this morning and, hopefully, we'll get them back on the work tab on either Saturday or Sunday.”

Angel of Empire breezed a half-mile in :49.0 and Hit Show worked the same distance in :49.40. Both works were at Churchill Downs.

“I'm very happy with Angel of Empire and with the way he came out of the Derby,” the trainer said. “He ran hard and I feel like we saw that the first three, four days after the Derby. Since, he's bounced back well. It was the same thing with Hit Show. For a couple of days after the Derby he was tired. Both ran hard and well. For me, it was an easy decision to skip the Preakness and turn our attention toward the Belmont.”

Like all other trainers in the race, Cox won't know if his horses can handle the 12 furlongs until they try it on June 10.

“It is the great unknown, but with both I have confidence that they'll get it,” he said. “Angel of Empire is one that I always thought had enough speed to be involved. He doesn't necessarily have to be on the lead. I don't know who else is running yet, but I'm confident he'll break and be able to get involved early. With Hit Show, with what he showed us in the Kentucky Derby, I think he's another one who should break well and be up there. People have come to the conclusion that you don't want to be a deep, deep closer in the Belmont. That normally doesn't work out for you.”

Angel of Empire figures to be one of the favorites in the Belmont. He missed by just 1 1/2 lengths in the Derby as the 4-1 choice and before that won the GI Arkansas Derby. Hit Show started his year with a win in the GIII Withers S. and then finished second in the GII Wood Memorial S., losing by just a nose.

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