Note: One of a series of profiles on contenders for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Updates will be provided after morning-line odds and post positions are set on Wednesday, June 17.
By Richard Rosenblatt
With a whole lot of shuffling going in the past 10 days, the $1 million Belmont Stakes (G1) has a new look, and Pneumatic is in the picture.
With Bob Baffert’s dynamic duo of Nadal and Charlatan sidelined, along with unbeaten Maxfield, the owners of Pneumatic figured ‘why not?
Listen to David Fiske, bloodstock manager for the 3-year-old colt’s owner Winchell Thoroughbreds:
“A couple of things went into the decision. In addition to the fact that he’s been training really well and worked well last week, the changes that have been made in terms of defections and horses going to other races also are reasons why we’re going. It was either this or Ohio (Derby on June 27) and the Belmont is an American classic. To have some Grade 1 black type in a Triple Crown race would be highly beneficial.”
This year’s Triple Crown races have been rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Belmont is now the first leg of the series, set for Saturday, June 20.
Pneumatic, who won his first two races at Oaklawn Park, finished third in the Kentucky Derby-points qualifier Matt Winn Stakes (G3) in his last start, and worked 5 furlongs in 59.80 at Churchill Downs on June 8. A son of Uncle Mo, Pneumatic gives trainer Steve Asmussen a second Belmont starter (he’s also entering Jungle Runner).
He broke his maiden on Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, winning at 6 furlongs by a neck. On April 11, he won around two turns in an allowance optional claimer, defeating Captain Bombastic by 2 ½ lengths. In the Matt Winn on May 23, Pneumatic led the field near the 5/16ths pole, moved off the rail but still fought down before yielding to Maxfield and Ny Trafffic.
Belmont Stakes Probable: Pneumatic
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds
Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.
Career record: 3 2-0-01
Career earnings: $101,850
Pedigree: Uncle Mo–Teardrop, by Tapit
Running style: Front-runner
“Strong third to Maxfield in Matt Winn; late bloomer can contend with forward move.” — Ed McNamara
“Lightly-raced, but has speed and certainly belongs versus this year’s Belmont field.’’ – Noel Michaels.
Notes: Hall of Famer Asmussen, still looking for his first Kentucky Derby win, has one Belmont victory to his credit — Creator in 2016 … Winchell Thorougbreds has started one Belmont runner previously, Tenfold, who finished fifth in 2018 to Triple Crown winner Justify.
Belmont Stakes Odds
|1||Tap It To Win||6-1||John R. Velazquez||Mark E. Casse|
|2||Sole Volante||9-2||Luca Panici||Patrick L. Biancone|
|3||Max Player||15-1||Joel Rosario||Linda Rice|
|4||Modernist||15-1||Junior Alvarado||William I. Mott|
|5||Farmington Road||15-1||Javier Castellano||Todd A. Pletcher|
|6||Fore Left||30-1||Jose Ortiz||Doug O’Neill|
|7||Jungle Runner||50-1||Reylu Gutierrez||Steven M. Asmussen|
|8||Tiz The Law||6-5||Manny Franco||Barclay Tagg|
|9||Dr Post||5-1||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Todd A. Pletcher|
|10||Pneumatic||8-1||Ricardo Santana, Jr.||Steven M. Asmussen|
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.