While Rombauer’s trainer, Mike McCarthy, headed west back to his California base, his newly minted Preakness Stakes champion left Pimlico Race Course early Monday morning for a northerly destination.
That destination? New York’s Belmont Park.
“We will go ahead and go to Belmont. We will get there and see how he is and where he is and go from there,” McCarthy told the Maryland Jockey Club Sunday morning.
McCarthy said Rombauer came out of the Preakness “in good order.” He told reporters Sunday morning that the Belmont Stakes is the colt’s likely next racing destination. McCarthy said the 1 ½ miles won’t be an issue for a horse who ate up 1 3/16 miles, and then some.
McCarthy wants Rombauer in the Belmont Stakes
“We’ll take a good, hard look at the Belmont Stakes. The Belmont Stakes is the main focus,” McCarthy told Blood-Horse. “It’s the third leg of the Triple Crown and having won the second leg, it makes sense to try and get a leg up on everyone by winning two of them.”
Belmont Saturday is one of the biggest racing days of the year. There’s the Belmont Stakes, of course. But there’s also seven other Grade 1 stakes on the undercard, albeit for different genders and over various distances. There’s also the June 10, Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational, which sends 3-year-olds 1 ¼ miles on turf. McCarthy said that Rombauer will stay on dirt for now.
Rombauer’s first two races came on turf: his maiden-breaking, half-length victory at 16/1 in a Del Mar maiden special weight last July, and his sixth in the Listed Del Mar Juvenile Turf Stakes last September. He’s run on dirt or synthetic in his next five races. Of those five, Rombauer finished off the board only once: his fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November.
He now owns victories on all three surfaces, turf, dirt, and synthetic. Rombauer covered that latter surface in his El Camino Real Derby victory at Golden Gate Fields earlier this winter. That win punched his ticket to the Preakness.
Rombauer’s connections have options aplenty
With all kinds of options available at Belmont Park, those other races came into play with John Fradkin, who co-owns Rombauer with his wife, Diane. After the Preakness, Fradkin said the Belmont became less of a possibility because of Rombauer’s victory.
“All along, I actually thought that was our best chance of a race to win – the Belmont – because I think he’s going to like the distance,” Fradkin said after the race. “But now that we’ve won this one, it kind of takes the pressure off to do that. And that race is only three weeks out, and the spacing isn’t superb to go into a mile-and-a-half race with just three weeks of rest … But I’d say it’s a possibility, but it’s probably a little less of a possibility than if we had run like a good third or something.”
McCarthy talked to the Fradkins on Sunday and all decided the Belmont Stakes should be Rombauer’s likely next stop. Hitting the board there would push Rombauer over $1 million in earnings. After his $600,000 Preakness payday, Rombauer sits at $890,500 in earnings from his seven starts (3-1-1).
Plenty of speed questions answered here
Rombauer’s 3 ½-length Preakness victory over Midnight Bourbon came with a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure. At 11/1, Rombauer covered the 9 ½ furlongs in 1:53.62, the eighth-fastest time since the Preakness went to 1 3/16-miles in 1925.
“I kept telling everyone that he would definitely run a mile and three-sixteenths,” McCarthy told the MJC. “I just hoped he would do it as fast as everyone else. He did that and a little more.”