ELMONT, N.Y. -- Longshots Tomcito and Spark Candle were both removed from consideration for next Saturday's Belmont Stakes by their connections on Sunday, leaving a likely group of eight opponents for Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown.
Tomcito, third to Big Brown in the Florida Derby, had some congestion on Sunday morning and was declared from the race, trainer Dante Zanelli Jr. said. Zanelli said that the owner, Jet Set Racing Stable, was likely to move the horse to another New York-based trainer and Zanelli would return to his Lexington, Ky., base.
Also, Spark Candle, a stablemate of probable Belmont second choice Casino Drive, was entered and is scheduled to run in Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Hill Prince at one mile on the turf at Belmont.
If nothing changes before Wednesday, when entries are made and post positions assigned, the nine-horse Belmont field will be: Anak Nakal, Big Brown, Casino Drive, Da' Tara, Denis of Cork, Icabad Crane, Macho Again, Ready's Echo, and Tale of Ekati.
On Sunday, Tale of Ekati worked six furlongs in 1:11.99 over a muddy Belmont main track. Ready's Echo, working in company with The Roundhouse, went five furlongs in 1:01.90 over a fast Belmont training track.
Big Brown made his usual 1 1/2-mile gallop over the main track while Casino Drive galloped behind stablemates Spark Candle and Champagne Squall, passing them in the stretch. Big Brown is likely to breeze on Tuesday.
Dennis of Cork and Icabad Crane were both expected to put in their final Belmont workouts on Monday at Churchill Downs and the Fair Hill training center, respectively.
Dennis of Cork and Macho Again are scheduled to be flown to New York from Kentucky on Tuesday.