Let's not rush. That's basically the strategy for our 2021 Preakness Hero ROMBAUER, who has been training up at Santa Anita Park for his next start.
Trainer Michael W. McCarthy originally had Saturday's $1 million Belmont Derby Invitational in mind, which would have been ROMBAUR's first turf race since age two, but elected to skip the race because it would be much too soon.
"Since the Haskell is only a week later, I would estimate that we are only 50/50 to go there," owner Fradkin told Horse Racing Nation via text message, in light of the decision to skip the Belmont Derby. "In summary, we have no definite plans yet." (Victor Ryan, Horse Racing Nation)
Where is the best spot for Rombauer's next start?
For the past two weeks, ROMBAUER has been training at Santa Anita Park, gearing up for a potential start against some very familiar three-year-old rivals.
Note that on July 2nd, ROMBAUER worked 5F in 1:01 handily, the 15th fastest of 27 works at that distance. Then a week before that, on June 25th, he worked 4F in 49.20 handily, the 15th best of 51 workouts at that distance.
If Rombauer runs in the $1 million 53rd Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park, he faces quite the competitive bunch.
The traditional stakes race is contested at one mile and one-eighth over the dirt course at Monmouth Park. It is restricted for three-year-olds only, and the date has been set for Saturday, July 17, 2021. The post time for the first race of the card is 12:00pm.
MIDNIGHT BOURBON is also probable. We last saw him finishing second in the Preakness Stakes, where he pressed MEDINA SPIRIT from the starting bell, but could not hold off the hard-charging ROMBAUER in the stretch.
Recall that MIDNIGHT BOURBON is the son of Dual Breeder's Cup Classic winner TIZNOW, who developed his wherewithal toward the later part of his three-year-old season. It shouldn't be shocking then if the consistent MIDNIGHT BOURBON asserts his authority over his division with this race.
MIDNIGHT BOURBON fired two bullet works in a row: one yesterday at Saratoga, going 5F in 1:00.82; another one on June 27th at Churchill Downs, going 5F in 59.40. He's ready to roll for trainer Steve Asmussen
The other ultra-consistent colt, HOT ROD CHARLIE, is a probable. He finished a brave second to ESSENTIAL QUALITY in the Belmont Stakes, and has transitioned his style to be a lot more closer to the pace than how he began his career.
HOT ROD CHARLIE, too, touts a pair of bullet works: one on July 2nd, going 6F in 1:11.60 and another on June 25th, going 5F in 59.80.
MANDALOUN and WEYBURN are both probables. They finished first and second last time out in the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park, with MANDALOUN on top as the winner.
MANDALOUN fired a bullet work on July 3rd at Churchill Downs, going 5F in 59.20. WEYBURN, though not a bullet work, breezed 4F on June 26th at Belmont Park in 50.55.
Finally, the Todd Pletcher trainee, FOLLOWING SEA, is probable. The RUNHAPPY colt will be stepping way up in class from his Allowance race victory at Belmont Park. He's got a recent bullet work to his name, a 5F breeze in 1:00.80, the fastest of nine works at that distance.
Source: Equibase, Victor Ryan, Horse Racing Nation