Suddenbreakingnews and Destin targeting Belmont Stakes
Edited Press Release
Midwest-based trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel hasn't started a horse in the Empire State since 2012, when he campaigned a small contingent over two seasons on the New York circuit.
Led by 2011 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (G1) winner Caleb's Posse, the stable's 11 starters collected four wins and three seconds, including Caleb's Posse's impressive victories in the King’s Bishop (G1) and Amsterdam (G2) in August 2011.
In four weeks, Von Hemel will hope that past consistencies return present-day dividends as he targets Grade 3 scorer and Kentucky Derby fifth-place finisher Suddenbreakingnews to the final jewel of the Triple Crown, the $1.5 million Belmont S. (G1) on June 11.
"Barring anything dramatic happening in the next few days with who's running in the Preakness (G1), we're pointing to the Belmont next," Von Hemel said by phone on Friday morning.
In the Derby, Suddenbreakingnews raced well off the pace, settling second-to-last and trailing the early leader by more than 27 lengths after the first half-mile. Under regular jockey Luis Quinonez, the bay Mineshaft gelding angled out into the stretch and nearly captured third under a ferocious drive, finishing 4 3/4 lengths behind Derby hero Nyquist.
"He's his same self," Von Hemel said of his charge since the race. "His energy level seems to be good and he seems to be feeling good."
For the time being, however, Von Hemel said he expects to remain judicious with the training and shipping of his young colt, a late-year foal who just turned three, in a literal sense, on May 2.
"We'll have a couple of works I'm sure between now and then but we don't have it scheduled right now," Von Hemel remarked. "We'll keep an eye on how he's training, how's he eating, the weather, all of that, before we decide. I probably won't know until a day or two beforehand.
"We might ship in maybe about a week before and let him get accustomed to the surroundings," he added. "He's been a champ in that respect, nothing ever bothers him, so that should be plenty."
If Suddenbreakingnews shows up in the Belmont, he’ll see a familiar face in the form of Destin, who is pointing to the “Test of the Champion” after finishing 2 1/4 lengths behind Suddenbreakingnews when sixth in the Derby.
Destin is at Belmont Park following a Derby performance in which he finished seven lengths behind champion Nyquist in his first career Grade 1 start.
The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Giant’s Causeway posted back-to-back graded scores prior to the Kentucky Derby in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Sam F. Davis (G3).
"I thought he came out of it very well and seems to have settled in here at Belmont," Pletcher said.
Suddenbreakingnews photo courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography