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Stealcase under Belmont Stakes consideration
The morning after Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another ran down Bodemeister in the Pimlico stretch to capture the Preakness Stakes, trainer Mark Casse said he is considering running John Oxley's Stealcase in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes, the final jewel of the Triple Crown, on June 9 at Belmont Park.
Stealcase, a chestnut son of Lawyer Ron, was put on the Derby trail after breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park in January. He ran sixth in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and then was fifth in the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes on the Polytrack at Turfway Park.
His performances in those races did not earn him a spot in the starting gate in the Run for the Roses, but Oxley and Casse did start Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby winner Prospective, who finished 18th in the field of 20.
In his most recent start, Stealcase ran third behind Hierro and Paynter in the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on April 28.
"The Belmont is definitely under consideration," Casse said. "His last race was big and (on Saturday) Paynter ran a huge race (won an allowance race on Preakness undercard by 5 3/4 lengths)."
Casse said he has always thought highly of Stealcase, who was purchased as a two-year-old in training for $320,000, and believes he is a Grade 1-caliber horse.
"I think the horse fits (in the Belmont)," Casse said. "We've always thought he was the best three-year-old colt in the barn."
With the Belmont on June 9, Casse said there is plenty of time to make a decision.
"We've got three weeks," Casse said. "We'll see who is going before we make a decision. We are also considering the (Grade 3) Matt Winn (on June 16 at Churchill Downs). If I had to say one way or the other right now, I would say no (to the Belmont). But he's a possibility."
Stealcase worked five furlongs in company with Prospective on May 18 at Churchill Downs. The duo recorded a five-furlong time of 1:01 1/5, which was the second fastest of 17 at the distance. Casse said Stealcase would work beneath the Twin Spires again next weekend.
Bred in Kentucky by Secret Whispers Partnership, Stealcase recorded his lone victory when breaking his maiden and has career earnings of $66,582 from six lifetime starts.