ELMONT, N.Y. -- Belmont Week dawned Monday with a late addition to bring the field to 12, and several horses who turned in sharp final workouts, one of whom gave no indication that a foot problem he is nursing will compromise his chances come post time Saturday for the 142nd Belmont Stakes.
Drosselmeyer looked well working on Monday morning at Belmont Park, breezing five furlongs in 59.60 seconds, according to Daily Racing Form, while easily disposing of his workmate, and his chestnut coat glistened like a copper penny when back at the barn of his trainer, Bill Mott. But also glistening were the bar shoes on his front hooves that were noticeable while he bathed and then grazed.
Mott said that Drosselmeyer bruised the frogs - the fleshy shock absorbers on the soles of the feet -- sometime after his runner-up finish in the Dwyer Stakes on May 8. He said the problem was noticed late last week, and that bar shoes were added Saturday. But he said Drosselmeyer will not race in the bar shoes in the Belmont Stakes.
"We didn't think three or four days ago that he looked comfortable galloping," Mott said. After adding the shoes on Saturday, "we galloped him on Sunday, and then worked today," Mott said.
"That's one of the reasons we waited a day to work him; we wanted to gallop him in the shoes first," said Mott, who said Drosselmeyer would have conventional racing shoes for the Belmont Stakes.
"This is something that sometimes happens because of the sand here at Belmont," Mott said. "There's a light aluminum pad across the frog of the foot. We just have to protect it. It will toughen up on its own."
Mott said Drosselmeyer also was standing in salt water and Epsom salts "a couple of times a day."
Based on the way Drosselmeyer worked, this development should not impact his performance come Saturday in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont. Drosselmeyer, with exercise rider Juan Quintero aboard, started five lengths behind barnmate Vision d'Amour when they broke off at the five-furlong pole, but within three-sixteenths of a mile, he was just a length behind. Drosselmeyer pulled away through the stretch to be best by three lengths, then galloped out well. The time was the best of 12 at the distance.
"We wanted a decent sort of work," Mott said. "He worked good, galloped out good. I wasn't disappointed that it was too fast. At least not to this point. If he's meant to be a good horse, it shouldn't bother him."
Drosselmeyer races for the WinStar Farm of Bill Casner and Kenny Troutt. In the Kentucky Derby, they were aligned with trainer Todd Pletcher, and together they won with Super Saver. In the Belmont, though, they will be on opposing teams. Mott trains Drosselmeyer, and Pletcher on Monday decided to run Interactif, who brings the prospective Belmont field to 12.
"He's been training really well on the dirt here," Pletcher said at his barn. "His work two back was really good, with a strong gallop out, and then he came back with another big work on Saturday," he said, referring to a five-furlong drill in 1:00.41.
"I talked to the owners this morning, and we decided to give it a shot," Pletcher said.
Interactif is owned by Alain and Gerard Wertheimer of France. The Wertheimer brothers originally had been pointing their colt Setsuko, trained by Richard Mandella, to the Belmont, but Setsuko was not training satisfactorily in California and was pulled from consideration more than a week ago.
Javier Castellano will ride Interactif, who has not raced since finishing fourth in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 10. Interactif primarily has raced on grass and synthetic surfaces during his eight-race career, including a second-place finish in the San Felipe at Santa Anita earlier this year. But he has raced twice on dirt, including when winning first time out at Monmouth. He is by Broken Vow, a son of Unbridled, and is out of a Broad Brush mare.
"He's got a stout pedigree," Pletcher said. "With the complexion of the race, it looks like the right time to take a shot."
The last time Pletcher called a late audible for the Belmont was in 2007, when he decided the week of the race to run the filly Rags To Riches against Curlin and Hard Spun. She won.
Entries for the Belmont are due on Wednesday morning, and post positions will be drawn shortly after 11 a.m that day. Eric Donovan, who makes the morning line at Belmont Park, on Monday said that Ice Box, the second-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, will be favored over First Dude, the Preakness runner-up, and Fly Down, the Dwyer winner.
Three other Belmont runners worked on Monday, two at Belmont Park.
Stately Victor, who won the Blue Grass while beating Interactif by 6 3/4 lengths, covered a half-mile in 49.93 seconds for trainer Mike Maker. Stately Victor finished eighth in the Kentucky Derby in his last start.
Both Drosselmeyer and Stately Victor worked on the main track, but trainer Alexis Barba elected to take Make Music for Me to the training track for his final breeze, a five-furlong move that Daily Racing Form caught in 1:01.21, the fastest of 10 at the distance. Exercise rider Andy Durnin was aboard.
Barba said she went to the training track because Make Music for Me seemed to be getting bored with the large size and relative calm surroundings of the main track in recent days.
"He was a little more keen today," she said.
In California, Game On Dude worked out of the gate at Santa Anita and was credited with a six-furlong time of 1:12.40. He is scheduled to fly here on Wednesday. Game On Dude, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Lone Star Derby in his last start.
It was a warm morning at Belmont Park, with temperatures near 80 before noon, and it is expected to stay hot most of the week. According to Weather.com, there was an 80 percent chance of thunderstorms on Tuesday night, followed by high temperatures in the mid-80s in the middle of the week. There is a 50 percent chance of scattered thunderstorms on Friday, but the outlook for Saturday, at this point, is encouraging, a high of 82 degrees but little chance of rain.
- additional reporting by David Grening