ELMONT, N.Y. - It was supposed to be a warm-up for jockey Mario Gutierrez. Friday’s Grade II Brooklyn Handicap would give Gutierrez a good look at the 1 1/2-mile track prior to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, in which he would ride I’ll Have Another in a Triple Crown bid.
But when I’ll Have Another was scratched Friday morning, Gutierrez’s role changed. His Belmont experience was a seventh-place finish in the Brooklyn Handicap aboard Boxeur des Rues.
Gutierrez spoke the company line regarding I’ll Have Another, whom he will ride only in a ceremonial role in the post parade before the Belmont.
“It’s a disappointment, but we were trying to do what is right for the horse,’’ said Gutierrez. “He brought a lot of joy to me.’’
Dullahan new favorite
With I’ll Have Another out, Dullahan, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby, was established the 9-5 favorite for the Belmont. Union Rags, the Michael Matz-trained horse who finished seventh in the Derby, was the second choice at 3-1. Paynter, the Bob Baffert-trained entry, was the third choice at 7-2. They all skipped the Preakness.
The representatives of the other horses in the Belmont field were universal in their disappointment of I’ll Have Another’s withdrawal.
“It’s devastating,’’ said Dullahan’s trainer, Dale Romans. “I really wanted him to compete. This was going to be a special race, one of the biggest races of our time.
“It’s not even good for me because I am racing. It would have been better for me to go out there and beat him. I don’t want to win with an asterisk by [Dullahan’s] name. I wanted to compete with him.’’
Matz had a similar reaction. “I feel sorry for the horse,’’ he said. “It would have been nice to try and get the Triple Crown, that’s for sure.’’
Redeemed rolled in the $200,000 Brooklyn Handicap, beating Eldaafer by 10 lengths. The 2-1 favorite, with Ramon Dominguez aboard, won for the seventh time in 12 starts and paid $6.50, $4.50, and $3.10. Eldaafer returned $21 and $11.20, and Arthur’s Tale paid $4.90 to show . . . In the $150,000 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont, John Velazquez rode Upgrade to a narrow victory over Right One, paying $12 to win . . . Suffolk Downs will have a Belmont Day at the Track on Saturday. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. for the 11:35 first post from Belmont. First post time for the nine-race program at Suffolk is 1:45 p.m.