General a Rod, beaten just a head for third in the Preakness Stakes, has been added to the list of those seeking to derail California Chrome’s Triple Crown attempt in the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
General a Rod worked five furlongs in 1:00.20 at Churchill Downs Trackside training facility for trainer Mike Maker Saturday morning after which Jack Wolf of co-owner Starlight Racing confirmed that the son of Roman Ruler would join California Chrome and Ride On Curlin as the only horses this year slated to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.
“He did a good work this morning. But Mike has been talking the last two weeks about how impressed he is with his energy level and how well he’s doing,” Wolf said. “Mike knows the horse and he feels like it’s a place where we should run him. I’m game.”
Owned by Starlight and Skychai Racing, General a Rod finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby where he was shuffled well back early instead of being closer to the pace as is his preference. The dark bay colt was sitting in striking position in fourth down the backside of the Preakness but again was shuffled back to next to last going around the final turn when the filly Ria Antonia began tiring badly in front of him.
Even with that loss of momentum, General a Rod still closed well to get fourth, finishing just a head behind Social Inclusion.
“You look at his Preakness race he got shuffled all the way back and still came running at the end,” Wolf said. “He was in good position until the filly backed up on him and I would guess that Mike would prefer to have him closer to where he was in the Preakness than he was in the Derby for sure.”
General a Rod is slated to ship to New York on Thursday and jockey Rosie Napravnik will have the mount.
It’s been a week of highs and lows for Starlight Racing as last weekend saw their prior Belmont hopeful Intense Holiday suffer a career-ending condylar fracture in his right front following a workout at Belmont Park. Wolf added that Intense Holiday was still at a New Jersey clinic recovering but is scheduled to ship to Kentucky in the first part of next week.
Joining General a Rod on the plane to New York next Thursday will be graded stakes winner Medal Count, who breezed six furlongs in 1:10.60 at Churchill Downs Saturday in advance of his expected start in the Belmont. While the enhanced security protocols announced by New York Racing Association stated that all horses competing in the Belmont or the three $1 million undercard races must be on the Belmont Park grounds by noon on Wednesday, June 4, it also stated that “any exceptions will be at the discretion of the stewards.”
Trainer Dale Romans and owner Spendthrift Farm announced that Medal Count – eighth in the Kentucky Derby – would be Belmont-bound this past Tuesday and both connections were impressed as the son of Dynaformer notched fractions of 34.20 and 57.80 under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar Saturday, galloping out seven furlongs in 1:24 and a mile in 1:39.
“I knew we were meeting Tuesday at Cracker Barrel,” Romans said of the decision between himself and Spendthrift owner B. Wayne Hughes to start in the Belmont. “I was thinking of all the reasons I wanted to run him in the Belmont. (Hughes) is one of the most intimidating men in the game. I walked in and sat down at the table with my stuff ready to go and he said ‘When are we shipping?’. I said, ‘Do you want to run?’, he said ‘Do you?’, I said ‘Yes’ and he said ‘run.’. Then we had eggs and talked about economics.”