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It's early, but Belmont field beginning to take shape for shot at Triple Crown hopeful Justify

The Baltimore Sun

Justify, winner of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, should see some familiar competitors at New York’s Belmont Park on June 9.

Bravazo, sixth in the Derby and a hard-charging runner-up in the Preakness, will run in the Belmont Stakes, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday.

A half-length behind Justify, Bravazo finished a neck in front of Tenfold in the Preakness.

“I just loved the way he ran. We’d like to have won it, but I think we needed another 15 yards and maybe we could have gotten it done,” Lukas told reporters at Pimlico Race Course before leaving for Kentucky. “After studying the video we were running the fastest of any of them at the end.”

The Belmont is the longest of the three Triple Crown races at 1½ miles. The Derby is 1¼ miles and the Preakness 1 3/16 miles.

“He’s a tough little horse and I think his pedigree will let him run that far,” Lukas added. “So we’ll take him on and see what happens.”

In addition to Bravazo, Preakness third-place finisher Tenfold, along with Derby horses such as Vino Rosso, Hofburg and Free Drop Billy, are expected to enter the Belmont, according to media reports. Tenfold trainer Steve Asmussen said Sunday morning that the colt’s connections were “definitely considering it.”

Audible, who finished third in the Derby and ran as well as any horse down the stretch at Churchill Downs, was ruled out of the Belmont Friday morning.

Coming to the Belmont was the likely path for Audible, but he is owned by the same group that owns Justify. Ownership took a hard look at whether to run another of its horses, a rested Quip, against Justify in the Preakness. He did run and finished last. Audible won’t get the same chance to run in the Belmont.

Other possible challengers include My Boy Jack, fifth in the Derby; Solomini, 10th in the Derby; Blended Citizen, winner of the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont on May 12; Core Beliefs, Peter Pan runner-up; and Gronkowski, pulled before the Derby with a fever and hasn’t raced since March 30.

The field will likely be larger than the eight-horse Preakness, but all eyes again will be on Justify, trying to take the same path as American Pharoah in 2015 to the Triple Crown.

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