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June 7, 2017
New York, New York
THE MODERATOR: Now it is to time to find out where they'll be coming out of the gate on Saturday for the 149th time, the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRABets. I'm sure most of you know before we start the draw that you can scratch out Classic Empire, who will not be running in the Belmont, leaving us with 12 horses in the box, and let's see where they will be in the gate.
The far outside post in the Belmont, No. 12, will be Patch, who, if I remember right, was No. 20 in the Kentucky Derby on the far outside, as well. Patch has drawn the far outside, owned by Calumet Farm, trained by Todd Pletcher with Velazquez riding Patch from post 12, the horse with one eye.
Right next to Patch in the gate from post 11 will be Epicaris, owned by Carrot Farm Company, trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara and ridden by Christophe Lemaire. Japan's hopeful Epicaris will be No. 11 in the Belmont.
No. 8 is Senior Investment, third-place finisher in the Preakness, owned by Fern Circle Stable, trained by Ken McPeek, ridden by Channing Hill. Senior Investment, post 8.
No. 3 is Gormley, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Moss, trained by John Shirreffs, with Victor Espinoza aboard. Gormley, post 3.
No. 2 is Tapwrit, owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, trained by Todd Pletcher. JosÃ© Ortiz will be the jockey on Tapwrit, who has drawn post position No. 2.
No. 9 is Meantime, owned by Silverton Hill, LLC, trained by Brian Smith with Hall of Famer Mike Smith riding. Meantime is No. 9.
No. 6 is Lookin at Lee, owned by L and N Racing, stained by Steve Asmussen. Irad Ortiz, Jr., who won the Belmont last year on Creator will be aboard. Lookin at Lee is the 6.
No. 7, Irish War Cry, owned by Isabelle de Tomaso, trained by Graham Motion with a Rajiv Maragh riding. Irish War Cry will be No. 7 in the Belmont.
No. 4 is J Boys Echo, owned by Albaugh Family Stable and Bobby Flay, who bought in today 25 percent I think it was, like he did before the Belmont last year with Creator. J Boys Echo trained by Dale Romans. Robby Albarado will ride from post 4.
No. 10 is Multiplier, owned by Wachtel Stable, trained by Brendan Walsh, the jockey Joel Rosario. Multiplier is No. 10.
Coming out of post 1, Twisted Tom, owned by Cobra Farm, trained by Chad Brown, with Javier Castellano riding. Twisted Tom is No. 1.
And that leaves No. 5 to Hollywood Handsome, owned by Mark Stanley and trained by Dallas Stewart, with Florent Geroux the rider. Hollywood Handsome is No. 5.
Those are the post positions for the 149th running of the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRABets, and now the morning line odds from Eric Donovan.
We will start from the top with Epicaris, who is the second choice on the morning line at 4:1.
Gormley is at 8:1.
Hollywood Handsome, 30:1.
Irish War Cry is the morning line favorite in the Belmont at 7:2.
J Boys Echo is 15:1.
Lookin at Lee is 5:1.
Meantime is 15:1.
Multiplier is also 15:1.
Patch is 12:1.
Senior Investment is 12:1.
Tapwrit is 6:1.
And Twisted Tom is 20:1.
That's the field, post positions and morning line odds for the Belmont Stakes, and we're going to bring back Andy Serling now to talk to the connections of some of the runners here in the Belmont. Good luck to everyone, and we'll see you on Saturday.
ANDY SERLING: We're going to bring up some of the connections involved in the race. The morning line favorite of 7:2 is Irish War Cry and his trainer Graham Motion as well his rider Rajiv Maragh were kind enough to join us today, so if you guys don't mind.
As far as post position, Graham, you drew post 7 in the middle. Does this affect your strategy at all?
GRAHAM MOTION: I think only in a good way. It's a post I would have chosen instead of 8 inward, so I'm very happy with it. I guess it's more up to Rajiv though, really.
RAJIV MARAGH: That's a good post. I don't really think there was a bad post for this horse. I guess we've got to see the running style of all the horses now and then decide what we want to do in the race, but I think it's a good post.
ANDY SERLING: Do you see them sitting off of a horse like Meantime?
RAJIV MARAGH: Yeah, well, that's up to -- after we analyze the race what we decide with Graham Motion and the rest of the team, but it is a very maneuverable horse, very easy to handle. He can do whatever I want him to do, I think. That just depends on what's happening in the race.
ANDY SERLING: Are you looking forward to a chance to get some redemption after his Kentucky Derby performance?
RAJIV MARAGH: Yeah, I just want Irish War Cry to be able to show what he's really made of, his best race, and if it's good enough, he'll win.
ANDY SERLING: Graham, how has Irish War Cry been doing since the Kentucky Derby?
GRAHAM MOTION: Yeah, he's had a good couple of weeks. I can honestly say this was not my original plan. I think after the Derby when he ran so disappointingly, I wanted to go home and just forget about the Triple Crown, which is what the Derby does to you when you don't run well, I think. But he had a really good couple of weeks. He breezed well last weekend, and I felt he needed to be here, especially after the result of the Preakness.
ANDY SERLING: The mile and a half, how do you feel about the mile-and-a-half distance?
GRAHAM MOTION: Yeah, the fact that he's by Curlin really encourages me, obviously the Curlins have tended to handle it. I think it's a bit of an unknown for all of us, but you know, I think it's within his scope, as long as things play out well for him.
ANDY SERLING: Rajiv, you were obviously injured and out for quite a long time and it's been a very celebrated comeback. How does it feel to come to Belmont Stakes riding the favorite?
RAJIV MARAGH: Very excited for the opportunity to be in this position, and I just hope it works out.
ANDY SERLING: Trainer Dale Romans has been here before. I think the first time he came up for one of our draws, I remember a highly spirited discussion with Barry Irwin from Team Valor, who at that time had Emerald Kingdom. Dale is bringing J Boys Echo to the Belmont Stakes, same situation, having run the Kentucky Derby and not run since then. Dale, how are you?
DALE ROMANS: I'm good, but ask me a better question than what I think about the post. Let's get original.
ANDY SERLING: I have no interest in the post, either, but I've been told I'm supposed to ask about the post, so what do you think about this post?
DALE ROMANS: If I could hand-pick a number, it would have been No. 4. It's such a great post. I'm glad we got it, and we don't have -- that's one excuse off the table.
ANDY SERLING: How has he been training since the Kentucky Derby?
DALE ROMANS: Another packed question. You're better than this. Come on. What am I supposed to say, he's training poorly? I brought him all the way to New York City to run a mile and a half because he's training poorly? He's training super. He's really done well, and all kidding aside, that's -- the worst traffic I've seen besides today was May 6 at 6:50 when we broke from the gate at the Kentucky Derby and he had such a bad trip. It was a worse trip than a hillbilly trying to drive through Manhattan today.
ANDY SERLING: Now, he got steadied out at the start and shuffled back to at that point last after Thunder Snow. Do you get the feeling he also didn't handle the track and the Derby either?
DALE ROMANS: I don't know, if you watch the replay and the head-on, everybody got pushed, but he actually got slammed into. There was a three- or four-foot gap between him and Empire, and he just ran into him and hit him so hard that I think it just took away his stride. I don't think it was -- you have 1,100 pounds run into you at that speed that early, and it'll take a little getting over.
But he came back and he trained well, and to tell you the truth, it's a pat answer, but last Saturday was the best work he's ever put in in his life, the most energy he's showed, and today out here he was bouncing and playing, and the mile and a half should help him, and hopefully we're going to see the best of him.
ANDY SERLING: He's a small horse, and sometimes people will say about the distance, but Birdstone was a small horse, as well.
DALE ROMANS: You know, he's not as small as you might think. He's so compact and he's strong. That's what it takes. He's got a nice long stride and he's compact, but he has the pedigree to go the mile and a half, and he has a good rhythm to the way he runs, and I think that's important going that far.
ANDY SERLING: You're a trainer that believes in being in the big races, and you frequently are. Why is it important for you to be in these big races?
DALE ROMANS: That's why we play the game. I mean, it's a classic. Whether it has the Derby winner or the Preakness winner, it's still one of the three greatest races that we have in this country, and it's such a prestigious race. I've come here several times and have a record of four thirds in this race, and it's one of the things outside of the Kentucky Derby where we won the Preakness, the Belmont is the other box to check off. It's a great race with the greatest racing fans, the smartest racing fans, and it's a race that I really, really want to get the trophy.
ANDY SERLING: Before last year's Triple Crown you were in a car accident. Do you feel all right?
DALE ROMANS: I'm feeling great now. It took a long time to get over that car wreck, and yeah, I was glad to see 2016 over with. It was a rough year. But feeling great right now. Just like J Boy, I was bouncing around here this morning and thinking about last year how bad I felt dragging around here. You asked me to come on the show, and it's the first time I've ever told you no. I just didn't feel up to it.
But now things are good, and I feel great. Before I get off here, I'd like to thank Bobby and Brad for joining us, and hopefully we can do the same thing we did last year, or they did last year.
ANDY SERLING: Well, Bobby bought into the horse much like Creator. Are you hoping to make that work?
DALE ROMANS: Yeah, that made me feel pretty good when he wanted to be on our team, and he did a good job picking last year, and I thought -- I called Jason Loutsch that manages Albaugh, and I said, you know, it worked for him last year, let's sell him a piece of this horse and hopefully made a bad move.
ANDY SERLING: Did the questions get a little bit better as time went on?
DALE ROMANS: Yeah, a little better, with a little of my help. I had to guide you a few times, but come on.
ANDY SERLING: If we had room up here for Dale and the next guest, we'd leave Dale up here.
DALE ROMANS: I thought you were leaving.
ANDY SERLING: If only I could. Thanks a lot, Dale Romans. Racing is a funny game, and for riders they can be riding the best horses and then things can change, and John Velazquez, of course, won the Kentucky Derby, his second Kentucky Derby, aboard Always Dreaming. Things obviously didn't work out, but he is back in action and he's riding Patch, who drew the outside. We're very happy to have John Velazquez here and we're going to bring him up for a few moments.
You know, it's funny, it's the 10-year anniversary of your first Belmont Stakes with Rags to Riches. Also from the outside post with Todd Pletcher, a slightly different outside post.
JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Yes. I don't know, for this particular horse, I think he probably would have liked to be on the inside just to break out of there and see the other horses outside of him just because that's the only eye that he has. That's the post that we drew. That's the way we have to go and play it.
ANDY SERLING: Do you see him as a horse that'll be at least somewhat forwardly placed from there?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ: I believe so. Almost like Rajiv, I'm going to be studying the race and see how the speed is going to -- how it looks in the race, but I definitely would like to be in the middle of the pack. I would not like to be too far back.
ANDY SERLING: Are you worried that he's the first horse in the Belmont you could win that doesn't have rags in his name because rags was your other winner?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ: That's okay, we'll take anything that can win the Belmont.
ANDY SERLING: Just talk a little about being a rider and obviously you're in a situation with Always Dreaming where I imagine it's every rider's dream to win the Derby but also go for the Triple Crown, but it didn't work out in the Preakness and now you're on another horse. What is that like, changes like that when you're in your career and riding where you're such a high and then it changes after that?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ: It's the highs and the lows and everything in every business. But for us, especially for me, I've been very blessed that I get to ride a lot of horses in different races, and kind of accustomed in changing from race to race, so any time you pick any horse for a different race, you can get adjusted to that very quickly and see the opposition, do your homework, and basically you go and try to do what's best for the horse for that particular race, and that's the way I look at it.
ANDY SERLING: Now, Patch obviously hasn't run since the Kentucky Derby, as well. Have you had a chance to be on him at all in the mornings?
JOHN VELAZQUEZ: I got to work him twice actually. He's doing really well. He worked really well last time out. So hopefully he can put in a good performance.
ANDY SERLING: Trainer Ken McPeek was so excited about the Belmont draw that he flew in directly from England. He's hoping that things go a little bit better for him in the Belmont Stakes than they did in England. I don't know how your trip was so far, but Ken McPeek, of course, who's training Senior Investment, finished third in the Preakness. Thanks a lot for joining us.
KEN McPEEK: Thanks for having me.
ANDY SERLING: You guys are so big. I have to ask you about the post. I have to.
KEN McPEEK: It's a good spot for him. Looks like Graham's horse has got a bit of speed and we'll probably follow him away from there. It's going to be up to Channing. He knows what this horse is up for, and we'll give him whatever lead he wants on that.
ANDY SERLING: How about the distance of a mile and a half?
KEN McPEEK: I think that's an easy one for this horse. I think it's more of a question on whether he's quick enough and how this race sets up is always unique every year. I think I read recently Angel Cordero said it's a rider's race, and you've got to be patient even in those big turns. This thing is wide open, though. I think as all the years I've watched this race, I've been a part of it many times, it is completely wide open. A horse on the right day this weekend is going to win, and the rest of them I'm sure -- everybody is in there thinking they've got a chance, and I think it's going to be interesting to see how it unfolds.
ANDY SERLING: Now, you talk about a rider's race. Channing Hill, who doesn't ride in New York, is riding him, but Channing has a lot of experience riding on the New York tracks. Did that factor at all into your decision to use him?
KEN McPEEK: Well, he knows this horse. This horse has got a particular type of way he needs to be ridden, and I think that's important. Channing has ridden here in New York, and if he hadn't ridden in New York, we probably would have addressed that. But he's spent quite a bit of time here as an apprentice. There are a few riders that have ridden the mile and a half distance here, guys like Johnny V and Rajiv, maybe some others that are riding the race, but there's not that many that are used to that big two turns like we're going to look at. It takes timing.
ANDY SERLING: If you look at Senior Investment's past performances, at least from a buyer speed figure standpoint, he seems to be improving with every race. Is that one of the things you're counting on, maybe another step forward in this Belmont Stakes?
KEN McPEEK: Well, his race in the Preakness was good. He came running. That's been his style. I think he's going to like this racetrack. I brought him up here early, we got a couple of easy breezes over because I do think that horses need to adapt to this racetrack. I think if we get a warm day and the track is a little bit heavy Saturday, they've got to have some preparation for it. But how it sets up once again is going to matter.
ANDY SERLING: You upset the Belmont field at 70:1 with Sarava. When you win a race like that, does it give you more confidence to take chances in these big races going forward?
KEN McPEEK: I think it's definitely given us a pass on a few of them. I'm still trying to figure out how all that unfolded exactly. He beat Medaglia d'Oro, which was a great horse in his own right, but look, horse racing is crazy. I mean, sometimes things happen. You know, you've got Breeders' Cup winners. I think the French horse that won the Classic years back nobody could figure. I like the Japanese horse coming. I think that's great, too.
I think it's super sportsmanship for them to come over and make an effort; good on you, and it'll be exciting.
ANDY SERLING: Last but not least, Dallas Stewart, a man who is always happy to take a shot in big races and has had his share of success in the Triple Crown races with long shots running well. Dallas Stewart bringing in Hollywood Handsome off an allowance win at Churchill. Dallas, do you have any thoughts on your post position?
DALLAS STEWART: It's good. You know, like you said earlier, doesn't matter in this race.
ANDY SERLING: Coming into this race with a horse who's coming off an allowance win at Churchill, what did he show you that made you want to take a shot at a race like the Belmont Stakes?
DALLAS STEWART: Actually like at the Louisiana Derby, I thought he ran real well. He was fourth, just beating one more jump for third and a couple lengths, but he was running hard and he was just -- I thought he ran great that day. So we didn't have -- we had a bad trip in the Illinois Derby, was just a bad race, and the allowance race was good, so I just think the horse can handle the distance.
ANDY SERLING: You've had some long shots run second, I think in both the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby. Will you be looking to add the Belmont Stakes to one where your price horses run well?
DALLAS STEWART: I would like to get the money; that's what we're here for.
ANDY SERLING: You're never afraid to come into these races. Do you think the pace setup will favor Hollywood Handsome? There seems to be some pace in the race.
DALLAS STEWART: Yeah, I think he'll be hopefully placed in the middle, not too far back. I think the horse can handle the endurance of the race, so we'll see.
ANDY SERLING: Your horse Tom's Ready is also running in the Mohegan Sun Met Mile. He won the Woody Stevens. Are you looking forward to his chances in the Met Mile, which is one of the most prestigious races run all year?
DALLAS STEWART: Yeah, I love the horse. He won the Woody Stevens here, ran great. We gave him time off after the Breeders' Cup. Was at Churchill on Derby day, ran well, was third, worked in 12 and 3 for this race. He's a solid horse. I think he'll run well. He likes the track, too.
ANDY SERLING: Getting ready to head up to Saratoga?
DALLAS STEWART: Won't be long.
ANDY SERLING: That does it for today's draw for 149th Belmont Stakes presented by NYRABets. Want to thank everyone for coming.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports