Drosselmeyer wins Belmont Stakes
Galleries2010 Belmont Stakes
There was some buzz about him over the winter and into the spring, but Drosselmeyer did little to justify it. Two losses at the Fair Grounds and another May 8 at Belmont Park made many wonder what he was doing in yesterday's Belmont Stakes.
The 13-1 shot showed why in the final quarter-mile, rallying for Mike Smith to take the 142nd Belmont by three-quarters of a length over Fly Down before 45,243. Finishing third, a neck farther back, was front-running First Dude. Game On Dude held on for fourth and Ice Box, the 9-5 favorite, was a non-threatening sixth.
"He broke good, which I was concerned about," Smith said, "because the last time he stumbled at the start. I kept him outside and got him into a comfortable rhythm. At the three-eighths pole, I picked him up and he had a good kick."
Drosselmeyer moved four-wide on the stretch turn, where many Belmonts are won and lost. The big chestnut colt kept grinding away with a five-wide rally as he tried to wear down First Dude. "I knew I had the leader," Smith said. "I was just concerned about getting caught by Ice Box or somebody else."
First Dude led Game On Dude by a length at the eighth pole, with Drosselmeyer third, a head farther behind. The winner made the lead inside the sixteenth pole, and Fly Down, under John Velazquez, got up for second in the final stride. The Belmont reversed the exacta of the Dwyer, in which Drosselmeyer ran second at 3-5 odds, 6 lengths behind Fly Down.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, 56, earned his first Triple Crown win in his fifth Belmont. "I thought he was in a good position," Mott said. "I knew they were going slow , but he was in range."
"It was a great trip," said Smith, who launched his Hall of Fame career in New York in the 1990s. "It worked out, and it was incredible. It's great to come home."
Even after a quick workout Monday - 5 furlongs in 593/5 - Drosselmeyer was all but ignored. Most of the attention went to trainer Nick Zito's pair of Fly Down and Ice Box.
"Fly Down ran great," Zito said. "I'm disappointed about Ice Box. He didn't deal well with the heat today."
Trainer Dale Romans was proud of First Dude. As he did when second in the Preakness, he tired late. "We had a perfect trip and everything went like we planned," Romans said. "We just couldn't hold it together at the end. He ran a mile-and-a-half and did all the work on the lead. I'm real happy with him."
Drosselmeyer, named for the villainous father in "The Nutcracker Suite," gave WinStar Farm of Versailles, Ky., the Derby-Belmont double. Super Saver, whom WinStar also bred, won at Churchill Downs. Drosselmeyer ran 1½ miles in 2:31.57, the slowest Belmont in 15 years, and paid $28.
"In those other races, he just didn't get the racing luck he needed to win," Mott said. "He didn't have the graded-stakes earnings to make the Derby. I was disappointed with his luck, but he answered all the questions."
Smith replaced Kent Desormeaux, who won last year's Belmont on Summer Bird. Desormeaux rode Drosselmeyer in seven of his previous eight races. Elliott Walden, WinStar's racing manager, explained the switch.
"We just felt like we needed a change in his routine," Walden said. "We have a lot of faith in Kent, and he was very confident in the horse. We went to Mike because we thought he could get him into the steady rhythm he needed."
"It's a great feeling," Mott said. "It's nice to be able to train good horses for good people. It was just a matter of time, and it all came together."