Trainer Doug O’Neill, who proved his nimbleness by quickly securing Flavien Prat’s jockey services for the Kentucky Derby, proved them once again for the Belmont Stakes. He said Prat will ride the Derby’s third-place runner in the June 5 Belmont Stakes.
That, of course, means Michael McCarthy needs to find a new rider for Preakness Stakes champion Rombauer. Prat piloted the 11/1 shot to the upset in the second jewel of the Triple Crown last Saturday.
And this falling domino puts McCarthy into scramble mode. He told Santa Anita Park’s Ed Golden by phone from New York that he’s not close to figuring out who gets Rombauer’s reins. “I don’t have a decision, don’t know what the situation is, don’t know what the status is yet,” he said.
McCarthy mulling more than jockeys here
Rombauer is already in New York, as is McCarthy, after a quick return trip back to California after his first Triple Crown race victory. McCarthy told Golden he’ll put in one more workout before the Belmont. But because of the quirky weather, he wasn’t sure on what day that would occur.
As for O’Neill, he first told the Daily Racing Form that Prat would ride Hot Rod Charlie in the Belmont. The trainer told Golden that Prat will breeze Hot Rod Charlie on Saturday at Santa Anita. O’Neill plans one more workout for the colt, who skipped the Preakness after his third-place Derby finish by one length to Medina Spirit and Mandaloun.
“If all goes well, the horse will work again the following Friday, then leave for New York a week before the race (Saturday, May 29),” O’Neill told Golden.
Prat clearly one of America’s best jockeys
You don’t need advanced sleuthing skills to understand why Prat’s in demand. He’s literally running away with the Santa Anita riding title — again. Going into Friday’s races, Prat’s 102 wins put him 32 victories clear of his closest pursuer, Juan Hernandez Jr. With $5.76 million in earnings, Prat sits nearly $2 million ahead of Hernandez in meet earnings.
Prat’s mounts find the Santa Anita winner’s circle 28% of the time and sent bettors to the window two-thirds of the time this meet.
Meanwhile, Hot Rod Charlie’s former jockey, Joel Rosario, jumps back aboard Rock Your World for the Belmont. The Santa Anita Derby champion, who finished a dismal 17th in the Derby, put in a five-furlong workout in 1:01.20 Friday morning.
Rock Your World regroups well
“He went (five furlongs) in a minute and change … and we’re very happy,” trainer John Sadler said about Rock Your World’s work.
Rosario rode Hot Rod Charlie for his Louisiana Derby victory, but in the musical saddles world of A-list jockeys, took Rock Your World’s reins from Umberto Rispoli. Sadler made the switch when Bob Baffert pulled Rosario’s presumed ride – Concert Tour – from the Derby.
Not even Rosario’s considerable skills prevented Rock Your World’s nightmarish Derby start when he got wedged between Essential Quality to his left and Like the King to his right. The second favorite, and a legitimate contender, Rock Your World was done before he could begin. He never surpassed 10th at any call, taking his first loss in four starts.
“The Kentucky Derby was over at the start for him,” Sadler said. “Hopefully, we have a good chance to right the ship.”