Preakness winner Bernardini not running in Belmont
NEW YORK -- For just the third time in 36 years, the Belmont Stakes will be run without either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes winner.
Preakness winner Bernardini was declared out of the Belmont on Wednesday, another blow to the final race of the Triple Crown series set for June 10.
Belmont races without a
Kentucky Derby or Preakness winner*
Derby winner Preakness winner
2006 Barbaro Bernardini
2000 Fusaichi Pegasus Red Bullet
1970 Dust Commander Personality
1954 Determine Hasty Road
* Last 60 years
The Belmont field already was without Derby winner Barbaro, who sustained career-ending injuries in last weekend's Preakness, which was won by Bernardini.
In 2000, neither Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus nor Preakness winner Red Bullet ran in the Belmont, won by Commendable. Before that it happened in 1970, when neither Derby winner Dust Commander nor Preakness winner Personality ran in the Belmont, won by High Echelon.
Over the past decade the Belmont was one of the most anticipated races of the year, with six failed Triple Crown tries beginning in 1997 with Silver Charm. The others were Real Quiet in 1998, Charismatic in 1999, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in 2003 and Smarty Jones in 2004.
Last year, Giacomo won the Derby and Afleet Alex went on to take the Preakness and Belmont.
Darley Stable announced the decision about Bernardini in Lexington, Ky., saying the colt deserves a break after running three races in quick succession.
Bernardini won his first career race on March 4 and won the Withers Stakes in his next start April 29.
Then came his surprise victory in the Preakness over Sweetnorthernsaint, the race overshadowed by the serious injury at the start to Barbaro. The Derby winner broke three bones in his right rear leg and underwent surgery.
Dubai's Sheik Mohammed, who operates Darley Stud, made the decision to rest Bernardini.
"We feel that he climbed the ladder of competition quite quickly," said James G. Bell of Darley Stable. "We believe he deserves a break."
The colt is due to return in August, with the Jim Dandy, Haskell and Travers Stakes under consideration. The ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup Classic in November at Churchill Downs, Bell said.
The field for the Belmont will include Bluegrass Cat, second in the Derby, and Steppenwolfer, who was third. Jazil, who finished in a fourth-place tie, also is set to run.
Oh So Awesome, who won a minor stake last Friday at Belmont, also will be entered.
Trainer Bob Baffert plans to send Bob and John to the race, and might send Point Determined. Bob and John was 17th in the Derby and Point Determined was ninth.
From the Preakness, Sweetnorthernsaint is an outside possibility, and trainer Nick Zito said third-place finisher Hemingway's Key will run.
Todd Pletcher, who trains Bluegrass Cat, also is considering Peter Pan winner Sunriver and Sir Barton winner High Cotton.