ESPN Horse Racing

The line starts here for Belmont
By Bill Finley
Special to

A surprisingly large contingent of challengers appears ready to take on War Emblem in the June 8th Belmont Stakes, and Medaglia D'oro could be among them.

Right after Medaglia D'oro finished eighth in the Preakness as the 3-1 second choice, trainer Bobby Frankel said his colt would be freshened up for a grass campaign. But Frankel has had a change of heart and is now considering the final leg of the Triple Crown.

"I'll just train him and see how he acts," he said. "If he doesn't run in the Belmont I'll freshen him up for the grass races in Chicago."

When asked why Medaglia D'oro ran so poorly in the Preakness, Frankel replied: "I assume he didn't handle the track. That's all I can think of."

The list of confirmed Belmont starters consists only of War Emblem, Perfect Drift, Essence of Dubai and Proud Citizen, who was third in the Preakness for trainer Wayne Lukas. Lukas ho no qualms about taking on War Emblem again.

"I feel comfortable that we could have beaten War Emblem Saturday if we had a decent trip," Lukas said. "He got pushed out on the first turn and we lost all chance. He spent a mile of the race trying to work out a decent trip, which left him without any punch at the end."

Lukas said he is leaning toward running Table Limit in the Belmont, despite an 11th-place finish in the Preakness. Along with Medaglia D'oro and Table Limit, others on the list of possible starters are Azillion, Magic Weisner, Puzzlement, Request For Parole, Sarava, Sunday Break, Tracemark, Like A Hero and Wiseman's Ferry.

The statuses of Azillion and Like A Hero will be clarified after they start in the Thursday's $75,000 Alydar Stakes at Hollywood Park. Sunday Break and Puzzlement are scheduled to run in Saturday's Peter Pan at Belmont, a race that will determine whether or not they will start in the Belmont.

Like Frankel, several other trainers are taking a wait-and-see attitude.

"I don't have a real feeling about the Belmont yet because I haven't trained him enough since his last race," said Niall O'Callaghan, who trainers Lone Star Derby winner Wiseman's Ferry. "He's certainly not off the list. But I tend to wait until a horse has had two works since their last race before I see where they are and he has yet to breeze since winning at Lone Star."

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