One day before post positions draw for the 154th Belmont Stakes, connections for both Ethereal Road and Howling Time said their charges won’t run the final jewel of the Triple Crown.
That leaves the field for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes at eight probables.
D. Wayne Lukas, Ethereal Road’s Hall of Fame trainer, announced the colt suffered a quarter crack in his right front hoof. This keeps him out of his second intended Triple Crown race. Lukas’ scratch of Ethereal Road five minutes before the Kentucky Derby deadline put Rich Strike into the field.
That resulted in the second-biggest upset in Derby history, when Rich Strike won the Derby at 80/1. Instead, Ethereal Road contented himself winning the Sir Barton Stakes by nearly five lengths on the May 21 Preakness Stakes undercard.
Ethereal Road could regroup in Ohio
“He popped a quarter crack. We’ll soak it and get him better and look for another one,” Lukas told the New York Racing Association. “I really wanted to run him in (the Belmont Stakes). I thought that’s the one he really fit. But the horse has the final say, so we’ll have to skip it.”
Lukas said Ethereal Road’s likely next stop is the June 25 Grade 3 Ohio Derby. He also mentioned Saratoga’s two top stops for sophomores: the Grade 2 Jim Dandy July 30 and the Grade 1 Travers Aug. 27.
“We’ll look at the Ohio Derby, definitely the Jim Dandy and Travers will be on our radar. We’ll bring him up to Saratoga, so we’ll look at that,” Lukas said.
Howling Time staying home
As for Howling Time, trainer Dale Romans told the Daily Racing Form that he’ll skip the Belmont Stakes. Instead, he’ll keep Howling Time home and run him in Sunday’s Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs.
Howling Time also ran May 21, but in a Churchill Downs allowance optional claiming race. He prevailed by five lengths over Rattle N Roll, who is also expected for the Matt Winn.
The colt ran in three Derby preps. He finished fifth in last year’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club as a 2-year-old. This year, he finished ninth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth and eighth in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes.