Gotham (G3) winner J Boys Echo, 15th in the Kentucky Derby (G1) earlier this month, worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning, after which Jason Loutsch of Albaugh Family Stable confirmed via Twitter the colt’s participation in the June 10 Belmont S. (G1)
“It was a very solid work,” trainer Dale Romans said. “He was aggressive into the bit and that’s exactly what we wanted to see.”
Under Tammy Fox, J Boys Echo breezed in company with Reedini through fractions of :11.80, :23.80 and :48.20 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:14.
“It was good to see this type of move,” Romans said.
Winner of the March 4 Gotham at Aqueduct by 3 1/2 lengths over eventual Preakness (G1) winner Cloud Computing, J Boys Echo finished fourth in the Blue Grass prior to his run in the Kentucky Derby.
Meanwhile, champion Classic Empire, the likely favorite in the Belmont off a narrow loss in the Preakness (G1), jogged one mile at Churchill Saturday morning.
Also working toward possible starts in the Belmont on Saturday were the Todd Pletcher-trained pair of Tapwrit and Patch, Meantime and Irish War Cry.
Tapwrit, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner who ran fifth in the Blue Grass and sixth in the Kentucky Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:02.25 over the Belmont training track, while Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Patch covered four furlongs in :50.24 over the same track.
Tapwrit worked in company with Grade 3 winner Far From Over, with the pair galloping out six furlongs in 1:16.40. Patch breezed in company with allowance winner Outplay.
“I thought Tapwrit worked well; he’s not an overzealous workhorse but we got a good solid five-eighths into him on what I’d describe as a relatively slow training track,” Pletcher said. “I thought it served its purpose and he seemed to work as he normally does.”
[Patch] worked fine. Neither horse are ones that overachieve in the mornings but they have that solid, grinding style that could suit the Belmont.
“Tapwrit, we’re definitely planning to run and Patch, we’ll wait and see how he works next week,” he said.
“I thought Tapwrit ran great in the Derby,” Pletcher added. “Everyone talked about the trouble at the start for Classic Empire, but [Tapwrit] was the one that got clobbered first and it was a chain reaction from there. But I thought he closed pretty well and made a good account of himself. I think with a cleaner start, he would’ve hit the board.”
Meantime, last-out runner-up in the Peter Pan (G2), zipped five furlongs in :59.98 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:13 under Mike Luzzi while working in company with a maiden on Belmont’s main track for trainer Brian Lynch.
“I saw what I wanted to see, it was a nice, comfortable work,” Lynch said. “Mike’s body language was very relaxed, he just looked like a passenger. He didn’t look like he had to ask him at any stage. I wanted to have someone following him a little bit so he can get used to getting put under a bit of pressure. Mike said he was totally relaxed in the work and did it totally in hand. He did it well within himself.”
While under consideration for the Belmont, Lynch said Meantime is also eligible for the $150,000 Easy Goer on the Belmont undercard.
“I’m not going to run in it just for the sake of running in it,” he said. “We’ve got the Easy Goer that day too, so I want to be sure. His next work (next Saturday) will really tell me. Up until then, I’m still on the fence.”
Irish War Cry, hero of the Wood Memorial (G2) and Holy Bull (G2) earlier this year for trainer Graham Motion, clocked five furlongs in 1:01.20 over the fast dirt at Fair Hill in Maryland Saturday morning.
At Santa Anita on Saturday, Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Gormley completed six furlongs in 1:14. The John Shirreffs trainee finished ninth in the Kentucky Derby.
In other Belmont news, Calumet Farm’s True Timber is now likely for the Belmont. He was most recently third in the $100,000 Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard at Pimlico.
“We’re looking at the Belmont right now,” trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. “It’s three weeks off the Sir Barton, but we’re OK with that. No one really knows about the mile-and-a-half but we’ll find out on that day.”
True Timber, second in the Withers (G3) earlier this year, was previously fourth in the Wood Memorial.
“He’ll just work a half-mile a week out and we’ll go from there,” McLaughlin said.