Forte, Angel of Empire, Hit Show Lead Belmont Work Tab; Kingsbarns Ruled Out

Forte | Horsephotos

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher gave a “thumbs up” following a Saturday morning breeze from Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's reigning champion 2-Year-Old Forte (Violence), who worked five-eighths over the Belmont Park main track in preparation for the GI Belmont S.

NYRA clockers caught Forte through three-eighths in :35 before completing five furlongs in 1:00.44 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 over the fast main track.

“I was really, really happy. I thought he was moving great. He got into a good rhythm, finished up great and galloped out nice and well,” Pletcher said. “It seems like he's maintained his fitness level. We thought that last week when he breezed a half that he recovered pretty quickly, and even more so today after a strong breeze and big gallop out. It seems like everything is in good order.”

Pletcher said Dr. Sarah Hinchliffe, NYRA's Senior Examining Veterinarian, was pleased with the work and subsequent exam.

“It went very well. She examined him before he breezed, watched him on the track during the breeze and after the breeze and then came back to the barn and examined him again,” Pletcher said. “She said she was happy. They pulled blood and she gets results in five days on that and that should take care of everything.”

He added that both Forte and Tapit Trice (Tapit) would likely log their final Belmont Stakes breezes Saturday, June 3.

Pletcher also reported that GII Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns (Uncle Mo), who finished 14th in the GI Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont Stakes after he missed a scheduled breeze on Friday while demonstrating signs of colic that morning.

“We're going to be knocked off course. He had a bout of colic,” Pletcher said. “He's fine, no surgery needed. They just have to administer some fluids. It's unfortunate timing, but it's not something that we can [control]. We can't get a breeze in the next day or two so we're going to run out of time. We'll make sure he's OK and then come up with a game plan.”

Brad Cox's GI Belmont S. contenders Angel of Empire (Classic Empire) (five furlongs, :59.80) and Hit Show (Candy Ride {Arg}) (five furlongs, 1:00.20) worked Saturday in preparation for the June 10 classic.

Angel of Empire was one of the first workers to go as the track opened at 5:30 a.m. when he and stablemate Warrant (Constitution) (five furlongs, 1:00.20) worked in company. Shortly after their move, Hit Show breezed outside Salute the Stars (Candy Ride {Arg}).

Another Saturday morning worker was Lucky Seven Stable's Smile Happy (Runhappy), the winner of the GII Alysheba S. on Kentucky Oaks Day. He returned to the work tab for the first time since the Alysheba and completed an easy half-mile in :49.60 at 9 a.m.

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