Trainer Brendan Walsh confirmed Thursday that Illinois Derby (G3) hero Multiplier will take part in the 149th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 10 at Belmont Park.
Walsh said his gray charge will go in the 1 1/2-mile contest unless some reason comes up he shouldn’t.
“But he’s giving me every indication right now that he’s doing great,” the conditioner said from Churchill Downs Thursday.
Multiplier will likely work at Keeneland on Saturday with Walsh in the saddle. The sophomore son of The Factor is scheduled to fly from Louisville, Kentucky, to New York on Tuesday aboard a Tex Sutton equine charter.
Multiplier took three tries to break his maiden, getting the job done on March 18 at Fair Grounds, and showed up for a head score in the April 22 Illinois Derby next out at Hawthorne. After capturing his stakes debut, he was purchased privately by Gary Barber, Adam Wachtel and George Kerr and entered in the Preakness Stakes (G1), but suffered his first unplaced run when sixth in the second jewel of the Triple Crown.
“I thought he ran well. He was sixth but beaten three-quarters of a length for third and we didn’t have a very good trip,” Walsh said. “He got shuffled right back at the start. When they turned for home, he was really coming with a run. If you watch it, he got stopped at the head of the straight twice. And he’s not a horse that needs that. He needs to get rolling; he doesn’t need to be stopped. He came back rolling again, but then it was too late. I think there were a couple of horses unlucky not to be third in the race.”
Joel Rosario was aboard Multiplier for the Preakness and retains the mount in the “Test of the Champion.”
“(The Belmont) might be his race. Even going to the Preakness, I was hoping he’d run a race good enough to justify going to the Belmont,” Walsh admitted. “Even though he’s not really bred to go that far, he’s got plenty of stamina in his back family.
“Who knows? I think the track will suit him, that he’s cut out for that. Joel knows him now, too. I think he’s a horse you’ve got to know a little bit. He does need a very, very aggressive rider. He knows that now, too, so that’s going to be a big plus as well.”
In other Belmont Stakes news
Champion Classic Empire, one of only two horses who will compete in all three legs of the 2017 Triple Crown, is scheduled to put in his final major move for the Belmont Stakes within the next three days at Churchill Downs, according to assistant trainer Norman Casse.
Classic Empire finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby (G1) off a half-length score in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He appeared the winner of the Preakness on May 20, holding a three-length advantage in the stretch, but was run down by Cloud Computing, who stuck his head in front on the wire.
Also set to post his final move for the Belmont Stakes at Churchill Downs is Gotham Stakes (G3) scorer J Boys Echo. The bay son of Mineshaft is scheduled to go out at 8:30 a.m. (ET) Saturday and ship to New York on Tuesday, according to trainer Dale Romans.
J Boys Echo has been well-beaten in his past pair when fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and 15th in the Kentucky Derby.