NEW YORK – For just the third time in 36 years, the Belmont Stakes will be run without either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes winner. Preakness winner Bernardini was declared out of the Belmont on Wednesday, another blow to the final race of the Triple Crown series set for June 10
The Belmont field already was without Derby winner Barbaro, who sustained career-ending injuries in last weekend’s Preakness, which Bernardini won by 5 1/4 lengths.
In 2000, neither Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus nor Preakness winner Red Bullet ran in the Belmont, won by Commendable. Before that it happened in 1970, when neither Derby winner Dust Commander nor Preakness winner Personality ran in the Belmont, won by High Echelon.
Darley Stable announced the decision about Bernardini in Lexington, Ky., saying the colt deserves a break after running three races in quick succession.
Bernardini won his first career race on March 4 and won the Withers Stakes in his next start April 29.
Then came his surprise victory in the Preakness over Sweetnorthernsaint, the race overshadowed by the serious injury at the start to Barbaro. The Derby winner broke three bones in his right rear leg and underwent surgery.
Dubai’s Sheik Mohammed, who operates Darley Stud, made the decision to rest Bernardini.
The colt is due to return in August, with the Jim Dandy, Haskell and Travers Stakes under consideration. The ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Churchill Downs, Bell said.
Barbaro’s injury at the Preakness may or may not have factored into Darley Stud’s thinking. These horses are prone to injury and it wouldn’t surprise me if Bernardini never raced again.
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