(Rombauer / Photos by Holly M. Smith)
From the NYRA Media Team:
John and Diane Fradkin’s homebred colt Rombauer, a decisive winner of Saturday’s Grade 1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, arrived at Belmont Park on Monday to prepare for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets slated for June 5.
The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes is the centerpiece of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival that runs from June 3 through Saturday, June 5. The festival will encompass 17 total stakes, including eight Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, capped by the “Test of the Champion” for 3-year-olds in the 1 1/2-mile final leg of the Triple Crown.
Trained by Michael McCarthy, Rombauer garnered a career-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure for his rallying 3 1/2-length score in the 1 3/16-mile Preakness, second jewel of the Triple Crown.
The Twirling Candy bay, who is based at Santa Anita Park, arrived at Belmont at around 10:00 a.m. on Monday morning and will be stabled with trainer Jonathan Thomas.
Accompanying the Preakness champ on the van ride from Maryland was groom Leonel Orantes Aguilar, who reported that the horse shipped to New York “very well.”
McCarthy returned to southern California, where he is primarily based at Santa Anita, but gave positive reports on how the horse emerged from his breakthrough performance.
“It seems like he’s in good physical shape,” McCarthy said. “He was pretty bright and alert on Sunday morning. He’s a horse that takes very good care of himself, so we sort of read the signs from him and see what he’s telling us. From what I can tell, he’s no worse for wear.”
The versatile Rombauer graduated at first asking on the Del Mar turf in July 2020 and completed his 2-year-old season on dirt with a second in the Grade 1 American Pharoah in September at Santa Anita and a closing fifth in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Keeneland, which was won by 2-year-old champion Essential Quality.
Rombauer captured the El Camino Real Derby on the Golden Gate Fields synthetic in February to launch his sophomore season and followed with an even third in the Grade 2 Blue Grass in April on the Keeneland main track ahead of his Preakness effort.
It was a first American classic triumph for McCarthy, who was previously a longtime assistant to newly minted Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher.
“I got a lot of nice messages from people and there were a lot of people that reached out who I hadn’t heard from in quite some time, so it was very nice,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy went on to say that Bo Hirsch’s Ce Ce is a possibility for the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps, a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event on Belmont Stakes Day at 1 1/16 miles on the main track for older fillies and mares.
Yuji Inaida’s France Go de Ina, trained by Hideyuki Mori, also arrived at Belmont on Monday following his seventh-place finish in the Grade 1 Preakness under Joel Rosario.
Mori’s travelling assistant Masaki Takano will oversee the two-time winner’s preparations heading into the Belmont Stakes.
“He seemed to travel really well, it was a trouble free trip,” said Takano through translator Kate Hunter. “This is a good experience for the horse because the racing here is so different. Over the course of the time that he’s been here, he’s been able to get used to the American style of doing things. That’s helped him relax into the routine and hopefully it will lead to a better performance in the future.”
Takano said that France Go de Ina, a two-time winner in Japan at Hanshin Racecourse, has settled into a nice rhythm training in North America and should be well prepared heading into his next engagement.
“The extra length of the Belmont, and the experience he’s gotten from racing once here already, it’s likely we’ll have a better chance to perform better based off his pedigree. We’re looking forward to giving it another go,” said Takano.
A $100,000 purchase at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, the Kentucky-bred France Go de Ina is by Will Take Charge and out of the Curlin mare Dreamy Blues.
France Go de Ina is a two-time winner at Hanshin Racecourse, including a maiden score on November 28 and an allowance coup on December 19. France Go de Ina entered the Preakness from a sixth in the UAE Derby following a poor start.
Takano said France Go de Ina will resume training on Friday morning.
A $1 million bonus is offered to the connections of any Japan-based horse who wins the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets.
The $1 million bonus is in addition to the $800,000 winner’s share of the Belmont Stakes, which is contested at 1 ½ miles [2,400 meters], the same distance as classic races in Japan.
In 2016, the Japan-based Lani competed in all three legs of the Triple Crown, with his best showing being a third-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.
The Japan-based Master Fencer, who was elevated to sixth in the 2019 Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, closed to finish fifth in that year’s Grade 1 Belmont.
To qualify for the bonus, a horse must have made at least three starts in Japan prior to starting in the Belmont and must be nominated to North America’s Triple Crown series. In the event of a dead heat, the connections will receive a $600,000 bonus.
For information and details on Belmont Stakes Racing Festival hospitality offerings, ticket packages and pricing, visit BelmontStakes.com. For full terms and conditions, visit https://www.belmontstakes.com/tickets.
For comprehensive information on health and safety protocols in effect for the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, please visit:
For more information, visit www.BelmontStakes.com.