Belmont Stakes possible for Brooklyn Strong

Monday, May 3rd, 2021

Brooklyn Strong, breezing before his Kentucky Derby run, could run in the June 5 Belmont Stakes. Nikki Sherman Photo.

By Tom Law

Brooklyn Strong hit the gate at the break and bumped with a rival shortly after the start of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby on the way to a 15th-place finish, but he still could reappear in the 2021 Triple Crown series.

Trainer Danny Velazquez told the Churchill Downs media relations department that the 3-year-old son of Wicked Strong could run back in five weeks if all goes well between the Derby and the final jewel of the Triple Crown.

“If he comes back OK, we’ll go to the Belmont,” Velazquez said of the June 5 Belmont.

Brooklyn Strong, already back Velazquez’s barn at Parx Racing, never reached serious contention after trouble at the start in the Kentucky Derby. He raced 15th through the opening quarter-mile, 14th at the half and as far back as 8 lengths in 17th after a mile at the top of the stretch. Brooklyn Strong checked in 18 1/4 lengths behind Medina Spirit at the finish, the only time in his six-race career he finished more than 4 3/4 lengths back and off the board for just the second time.

“It’s a tough load with (19) horses,” Velazquez said. “You’re in there a long time. Umberto (Rispoli) said he wasn’t standing correctly and he broke a little slow. Our horse was really trying. No harm, no foul.”

Brooklyn Strong, pointed to the Derby after a string of defections a little more than a week before the race, gave Velazquez and owner Mark Schwartz their first classic starter.

The trainer, who won 212 races as a jockey from 2001 to 2005 before embarking on a training career that started in 2009, took to Twitter Sunday night to reflect on the experience.

“Proud of my team,” he wrote. “Regardless of the outcome we beat the odds. I’ll be back one day with a clearer path. It was a great experience. Thank you everyone that cheered for me and supported me. Means the world to me!! This is just the beginning!!”

Bred by Cheryl Prudhomme and Dr. Michael Gallivan out of their Medaglia d’Oro mare Riviera Chic and foaled at their Shamrock Hill Farm in Fort Edward, Brooklyn Strong originally sold as a weanling for $30,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga fall mixed sale.

He RNA’d on two subsequent trips through the sales ring – for $42,000 as a yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred yearling sale and then for $6,000 as a yearling at the OBS October mixed sale – before Schwartz bought him for $5,000 at last year’s OBS Spring sale of 2-year-olds in training.

Brooklyn Strong won the 1-mile Sleepy Hollow Stakes for 2-year-old New York-breds on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park last year. He also finished third in the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes in his first start at Belmont last fall.

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