Game Winner to skip Belmont Stakes; Baffert updates others

May 24, 2019 01:42pm
Bob Baffert intended to make a decision on Game Winner's Belmont Stakes status by the end of this week, and the choice to pass on the third leg of the Triple Crown series arrived by Friday afternoon.

Baffert said the reigning 2-year-old champ, who took a wide trip on his way to finishing fifth in the Kentucky Derby, "is not quite where I want him."

The primary target is now the Travers Stakes (G1) with a race to be determined before the Aug. 24 "Mid-Summer Derby" at Saratoga.

Owners Gary and Mary West paired with Baffert to win the 2017 Travers with West Coast. The Hall of Fame trainer also won it in 2001 with Point Given and 2016 with Arrogate.

A number of options could await Game Winner as a Travers prep, with the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) on July 13, the Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational (G1) on July 20 and Saratoga's Jim Dandy (G2) on July 27. The Haskell is an expected target for the Wests' Maximum Security, first across the wire in the Kentucky Derby.

So that concludes Baffert's trek through this year's Triple Crown.

Improbable, sixth as the favorite in last Saturday's Preakness Stakes, went to WinStar Farm "for a couple weeks to freshen up" after his fourth start of the season. Roadster, the Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner who finished 15th at Churchill Downs, submitted his first work back on Tuesday, going a half mile in 49.80 seconds.

"I'm just getting him back there and getting some weight back on him -- just like Game Winner," Baffert said. "He'll be nominated everywhere."

Baffert still plans to enter multiple runners for Belmont Stakes day. McKinzie will go in the Metropolitan Handicap (G1), and Much Better is pointing toward the seven-furlong Woody Stephens (G1). Mucho Gusto, who won Santa Anita Park's Laz Barrera last weekend, has the Woody Stephens at seven furlongs and Easy Goer at 1 1/16 miles as options.


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