LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Nehro, the Kentucky Derby runner-up who figures as one of the favorites for the Belmont Stakes, had a sharp workout early Monday at Churchill Downs when going six furlongs in 1:12.20 in the company of Dominus, his Steve Asmussen-trained stablemate.
Nehro actually was beaten by about a length in the breeze, which came over a fast surface, but his connections were very pleased with how both 3-year-old colts went about their work. "I thought they went great," said Scott Blasi, the Asmussen assistant who accompanied the set to the racetrack aboard a stable pony shortly after sunrise.
With Nehro closest to the rail, and with regular exercise rider Carlos Rosas aboard, the duo hit the six-furlong pole in full stride, proceeding through splits of 12, 24.20, 36.20, 48, and 1:00 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25.60 and a mile in 1:39.
Nehro, owned by the Zayat Stables of Ahmed Zayat, has been second in his last three races: the Louisiana Derby, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby. He was under consideration for the Preakness before Zayat and Asmussen said four days beforehand they would bypass the Pimlico race in favor of the June 11 Belmont. Nehro figures no worse than third choice in the Belmont, and that's assuming Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom and Preakness winner Shackleford both start.
Asmussen, who watched the work frontside before catching a morning flight to Dallas to be at the races Monday at Lone Star Park, said he tentatively plans on shipping Nehro to Belmont Park on Thursday evening. "I have to talk to Mr. Zayat first, but that's most likely the plan," he said. Such a shipping arrangement would allow Nehro to have a final pre-race work over the Belmont surface early next week.
Dominus was narrowly beaten in the April 30 Derby Trial in his last start.