Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert was going to have a horse in this year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) -- whatever the distance.
“It’s the Belmont -- I was quoted saying I wouldn’t send a horse if it was a mile and half this year. I don’t care if it’s a mile and a half or six furlongs,” Baffert said Tuesday. “It’s the Belmont. I was going to have someone in there.”
Earlier Tuesday, the New York Racing Association announced this year’s Belmont -- the traditional third jewel in racing’s Triple Crown -- would be run June 20 at a shortened distance of 1 1/8 miles, some 2 1/2 months before the Sept. 5 Kentucky Derby.
Baffert, who has won three Belmonts, said current plans are for both Nadal and Charlatan to make the trip to New York for the reconditioned Belmont Stakes. He added that Gamine, the undefeated 3-year-old filly, could also make her stakes bow in the Acorn (G1), also on June 20 with a purse of $300,000.
“I have Authentic here for the Santa Anita Derby on June 6. Nadal and Charlatan, we’ll look at the Belmont with them,” Baffert said.
Nadal and Charlatan have yet to lose in seven combined starts. Charlatan upped his record to 3-for-3 when winning the first division of the May 5 Arkansas Derby (G1) last out, while Nadal improved to 4-for-4 when taking the second division.
The winner of this year’s Belmont will receive 150 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
This is the first time in history the Belmont will be run before both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, which was rescheduled to Oct. 3. It will also be the first time since 1931 that the Triple Crown races were not contested in the order of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont.