The Belmont Stakes looks like it will be a tight-knit affair with just eight horses entering the starting gate after connections for Rebel’s Romance announced on Tuesday that the gelding will miss Saturday’s race due to a hind-leg infection.

Rebel's Romance-Out of Belmont
UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance won’t run the Belmont Stakes due to a hind-leg infection. (Image: Coady Photography)

Rebel’s Romance’s owner, Godolphin, posted the news about the UAE Derby winner on Twitter.

“Unfortunately Rebel’s Romance will not be declared for this Saturday’s G1 (Belmont Stakes) due to an infection in his hind leg. We hope this is only a minor setback and we look forward to seeing him back on the racecourse in the near future,” the statement read.

Rebel’s Romance is 4-for-5, with his only loss doubling as his only board-miss. He finished fourth in the Feb. 29 Saudi Derby on the Saudi Cup undercard.

Keepmeinmind keeps Rebel’s Romance company

Rebel’s Romance’s defection drops the probable Belmont Stakes field to eight. It comes one day after Keepmeinmind’s trainer, Robertino Diodoro, said his charge will miss the Belmont Stakes. This, after the Laoban colt clocked a 46.92-second half-mile workout on Monday morning.

“He worked great this morning, but thinking about it some more, I think he needs a little more time,” Diodoro told the New York Racing Association. “We were always 50-50 for the race, but I think as soon as we arrived at Belmont, people got the impression we were leaning toward that race, and it really wasn’t the case.”

Keepmeinmind’s defection makes it official. No horse will run in all three 2021 Triple Crown races. Connections for the only other horses to run both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, Derby winner Medina Spirit and Preakness runner-up Midnight Bourbon, opted out. Keepmeinmind finished seventh in the Derby and fourth in the Preakness.

The grass could be greener on turf

Instead, Diodoro said he wants Keepmeinmind’s next workout to be on turf. The goal there: the July 10 Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational. Diodoro said the colt’s regular jockey, David Cohen, mentioned to him that turf could be another option.

“Cohen mentioned that this horse could be a grass horse and a couple of the gallop boys have said the same thing. I’m curious to see what happens,” Diodoro said. “He’s a big 3-year-old and he’s a big baby still. I think with time, he’s only going to get better. We’ll take a step back and let him develop.”

Keepmeinmind’s other homework assignment is breaking better from the gate. That explains why Keepmeinmind is 0-for-4 as a 3-year-old. His best finish in those four races was that Preakness fourth. Diodoro worked the colt all week with the Belmont Park gate crew and saw slight progress, but not enough to turn him loose in the Triple Crown’s final jewel.

“The gate crew has been really good with us up at Belmont on working with him breaking from the gate, but he still broke a step slow this morning,” Diodoro said. “I don’t know if he’s ever going to change that, but the gate crew will get to know him better and we’re not rushing him into next Saturday. We’ll work him on the grass and go from there.”

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