Albaugh Family Stables' Grade I winner Free Drop Billy (Union Rags) has been confirmed for a start in the GI Belmont S., co-owner Jason Loutsch told the NYRA notes team Tuesday. Winner of the GI Claiborne Breeders' Futurity last fall, the Dale Romans trainee most recently finished 16th in the GI Kentucky Derby and worked five furlongs in :59 3/5 (2/25) Monday at his Churchill Downs base.
“I guess our main thing coming out of the Kentucky Derby was, obviously, we were really disappointed,” Loutsch said. “We feel he's a better horse than that, and we're going to cross that one off. We wanted to see how he bounced back after that race, and yesterday he showed us he has a lot of energy and is a happy horse. He galloped out really strong, and Dale's been really happy with his training. This is a huge race, a big stage, and this is what we're in the game for: to run in big races. This is a great opportunity. We know it's going to be a very tough challenge. But if we can get a piece of it, even hitting the board is a huge accomplishment, and we're excited for the opportunity.”
Loutsch made the decision in conjunction with his father-in-law and co-owner Dennis Albaugh in part because they believe that Free Drop Billy's breeding suggests he'll appreciate the 1 1/2 miles of the “Test of the Champion.”
“His dad was a Belmont winner, and he's out of a Giant's Causeway mare,” Loutsch said. “He's bred to go the distance. We just hope he runs to his breeding.”