Early Voting in Good Condition After Preakness Score, Will Skip Belmont

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Early Voting arrives at Belmont Sunday morningJanet Garaguso

Saturday's GI Preakness S. winner Early Voting (Gun Runner) was back in his stall at Belmont Park by mid-morning Sunday, some 15 hours after scoring a 1 1/4-length victory over favored Epicenter (Not This Time) in Saturday's Middle Jewel of the Triple Crown.

Trainer Chad Brown traveled from Baltimore to New York overnight and was at Belmont Sunday to oversee what is typically a busy morning of timed workouts for horses in his stable. During a brief break, Brown said that Early Voting, owned by Seth Klarman's Klaravich Stables, came out of the race in good condition, but will not be pointed toward the June 11 GI Belmont S. He added that he was undecided where and when Early Voting would run next, while still savoring his trainee's big day at Pimlico.

“We are thrilled with the victory,” Brown said. “I'm proud of the horse. Proud of my team. It was a super memorable day, especially being on Seth Klarman's birthday in his hometown. Everything lined up. I'm just so appreciative for the day, the performance.”
Brown and Klarman won the Preakness for the second time in five years by using the same formula: skipping the GI Kentucky Derby with a promising, stakes-tested but lightly-raced colt to focus on the Preakness. In 2017, Cloud Computing (Maclean's Music) gave Brown his first victory in a Triple Crown series race. Like Cloud Computing, Early Voting was given a break after finishing second in the Apr. 9 GII Wood Memorial S.at Aqueduct.

“He's only run four times and he's done everything we asked him to do,” Brown said. “He breaks good from the gate. He makes his own trips. He carries his speed a route of ground. He's a fighter in the stretch. He deserves all the credit here. He's been extremely cooperative to work with. He's super intelligent. You train him to do something, and he does it. I couldn't be more proud of this horse. He deserves a lot of accolades.”

Ron Winchell, the owner of Epicenter, who ran second in both the Derby and Preakness, reported that the colt is unlikely to contest the Belmont.

“I would say that's a stretch at the moment,” he said. “He had six weeks between the Louisiana Derby and the Derby, and that did him well. I think there might have been five weeks between the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby, and that did him well. Just looking at how he came back fresh, that seems to be the recipe at the moment. But at least a Gun Runner won.”

Winchell speculated that Monmouth's GI TVG.com Haskell or Saratoga's GI Travers S. could be the next target, with the GI Breeders' Cup Classic at Keeneland in early November a logical objective.

“We'll turn the page and see where we want to go from there,” he said. “But that's probably the long-term goal.”

Scott Blasi, chief assistant trainer to Asmussen, said Sunday morning that Epicenter came out of the Preakness in good order. He said Epicenter and his stablemates at Pimlico would van back to Churchill Downs on Monday morning.

Creative Minister (Creative Cause), who ran third in the Preakness after being supplemented to the race for $150,000, will be pointed toward the Belmont, trainer Kenny McPeek reported Sunday. McPeek said the colt will likely have a couple of half-mile breezes before the third jewel of the Triple Crown, noting that the gray's breeding could make him a contender in the race.

“He's out of a Tapit mare and Tapits love the Belmont,” McPeek said. “That's the plan.”

Creative Minister will stay at Pimlico for a day or two, McPeek said Sunday, before shipping to New York.

Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas was en route back home to Kentucky Sunday with Briland Farms' Secret Oath (Arrogate), the Preakness fourth-place finisher. Lukas said the plan was for the filly to get eight weeks off and then target a series of races against her own sex, including the GI Coaching Club American Oaks July 23 and GI Alabama S. Aug. 20, both at Saratoga, as well as the GI Cotillion S. Sept. 24 at Parx Racing. Her ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland in November.

Daniel Alonso's Skippylongstocking is under consideration for the Belmont, trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. said Sunday morning. The son of 2016 Preakness winner Exaggerator, who finished fifth in the Preakness, had previously finished third in the Wood Memorial.

“He ran good enough and it might be worth taking a shot at it,” Joseph said. “We won't decide for a week. We'll see how he comes out and see how his energy is and then decide. I think he would get a mile and a half.”

Trainer Antonio Sano reported that Tami Bobo and Tristan De Meric's Simplification (Not Thsi Time) will be turned out in Ocala for rest and relaxation after it was determined that the GII Fountain of Youth S. winner and fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher had experience exercise-induced pulmonary bleeding during his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.

Other probable starters for the Belmont, according to New York Racing Association notes, include Barber Road (Race Day), Golden Glider (Ghostzapper), Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo), Rich Strike (Keen Ice) and We the People (Constitution), while also listed as possible are Ethereal Road (Quality Road), Nest (Curlin) and Western River (Tapit).

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