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Friday, September 19, 2014
Stepping Out
‘Todd Squad’ provides sizeable intrigue at Belmont Stakes
In absence of Triple Crown, Todd Pletcher headlines pack with talented lineup
By VIKAS GIRDHAR
Courtesy NYRA
Owner Mike Repole will decide in the days leading up to the June 8 Stakes if Unlimited Budget, left, and Midnight Taboo will be representing him.

As the days wind down to the 145th annual Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday, June 8, a number of notable horses are dominating the training scene – with some even surprising their owners by surpassing expectations.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, for example, boasts a lineup of horses that is far from anything to sneeze at: five starters are a distinct possibility for Pletcher heading into Saturday’s Grade One, one-and-a-half mile race.

Here’s a look at the main show-stealers as of the last training week heading into the million-dollar-race day.

Pletcher’s prized gem and overachiever thus far is Palace Malice, who, on the morning of Memorial Day, led his contingent with a five-furlong breeze in 1:00.24 after the renovation break. Palace Malice was 12th in the Kentucky Derby earlier in May but easily beat Micromanage, who managed only a 1:01.17 in comparison and was withdrawn from the race by owner Mike Repole. Micromanage will be appointed to the Easy Goer class on the Belmont Stakes undercard.

Repole said he will instead be represented by Overanalyze, who won the Arkansas Derby in April and finished with a 1:00.77 in training on Memorial Day, and perhaps Midnight Taboo and Unlimited Budget.

“Right now, I’d say Overanalyze is 100 percent if everything stays right,” Repole said. “Unlimited Budget is 75 percent and Midnight Taboo is 60 percent [for Belmont]. It’s a tough decision.”

Pletcher’s other show-stealer is Revolutionary, who placed third in the Kentucky Derby and was the Grade Two Louisiana Derby winner. Revolutionary placed 48.55 in a half mile.

Trainer Bob Baffert is in charge of Code West, who won an allowance race at Pimlico on Preakness Day.

Freedom Child, racing for the first time since Belmont’s Grade Two Peter Pan earlier this month, ran five furlongs on Memorial Day in 59.87.

Incognito, owned by Darley Stable and being trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, is still in limbo for the Stakes. The male horse ran a half-mile in 50.01 on Memorial Day.

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