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Majority of Preakness field bypassing Belmont Stakes
Fourteen hours after Mylute finished third in Saturday's Preakness Stakes, trainer Tom Amoss said Sunday that he was even more impressed with the performance than he was Saturday.
"Upon reflection, I think my horse ran the best race of his career," Amoss said. "The slow pace was impossible for us to overcome and yet he still ran a very good race. I don't know where the rest of the speed went in yesterday's Preakness. It looked like there was quite a bit on paper, but it just didn't materialize."
Amoss said the son of Midnight Lute, who is owned by GoldMark Farm and Whisper Hill Farm, has earned a little bit of time off.
"As far as future plans, nothing is on the board right now," he said. "I'll get together with the owners at the beginning of the week and we'll discuss what to do. He's had two races close together and I think that's going to be taken into account when we have that conversation."
Amoss also saluted the winning trainer and jockey combination of Hall of Famers D. Wayne Lukas and Gary Stevens. Lukas, 77, won his record 14th Triple Crown race and Stevens, 50, earned his third Preakness just a few months after ending a seven-year retirement.
"It was a masterful job," Amoss remarked. "As far as Wayne is concerned, you've got to tip your hat to him. Over the last year he's made a remarkable comeback and put himself where he used to be, which is at the top of the trainers' charts."
Amoss isn't the only one who will be passing on the June 8 Belmont Stakes.
Trainer Doug O'Neill and his fifth-place Preakness finisher Goldencents will not be going on to the third jewel of the Triple Crown. Team O'Neill and the colt departed Pimlico early Sunday morning to return to Southern California.
"It doesn't make sense to go on to the Belmont," O'Neill stated. "We had talked prior (to the Preakness) that if we didn't run huge and came out of it great, we wouldn't come back in three weeks. Even though I'm very proud of him and the way Kevin (Krigger) rode him, I just don't think coming back in three weeks off that effort is the right move."
Last year, O'Neill left Pimlico looking for a sweep to the Triple Crown with I'll Have Another, who had followed up his Kentucky Derby win with a score in the Preakness. He would never get the opportunity when that son of Flower Alley came down with a leg injury that forced him to be scratched the day before the Belmont Stakes.
Goldencents, a three-time graded winner going into this year's Kentucky Derby, was a dismal 17th at Churchill Downs, but O'Neill believed the sloppy, sealed race track was largely responsible for that. However, he admitted the son of Into Mischief simply couldn't keep up with Preakness winner Oxbow after briefly heading him coming out of the gate on Saturday.
"We'll relax and see what's in the cards five, six, seven weeks down the road," O'Neill said. "You've got the three-year-old series on the turf down at Del Mar, so we could possibly try a different surface with him.
"Or we could go over him good, train him out there and then look for races like the Haskell or Travers somewhere down the road. We'll huddle up with the owners and put together a game plan. He's a good horse. You'll be hearing from him."
Claiborne Farm and Adele Dilschneider's War Front gelding Departing was shipped back to Kentucky Sunday morning following his sixth-place finish in the Preakness.
"He's fine, but he cooled out very tired," trainer Al Stall said.
Stall said he had not talked with the owners about future plans for Departing, but that the Illinois Derby victor would not be participating in the Belmont Stakes.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported Sunday that Preakness eighth-place finisher Govenor Charlie came out of the race in good shape and was being shipped back to California with stablemate Fiftyshadesofhay, who captured Friday's Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.