Four Godolphin runners trained by Charlie Appleby, including Belmont Stakes (G1) contender Rebel’s Romance , arrived at Belmont Park at 11 a.m. ET May 2 to prepare for the June 3-5 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival.
Rebel’s Romance bypassed the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) after earning 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby by winning the March 27 UAE Derby Sponsored by Emirates NBD (G2). The 3-year-old Dubawi gelding is still expected to participate in the American Triple Crown with a start in the June 5 Belmont Stakes.
He and stablemate Desert Peace started their journey from Dubai to Belgium, while fillies Summer Romance and Althiqa shipped from the United Kingdom to join the duo before their flight to New York. All four horses will remain in quarantine until Tuesday morning.
“They all shipped well and are very relaxed,” said traveling assistant Sophie Chretien, who will oversee training and saddling duties for the quartet. “We’re here early so we’ll have more time to get settled in and get used to Belmont.”
Rebel’s Romance has won four of five starts, his lone loss being a fourth in the Feb. 20 Al Rajhi Bank Saudi Derby at a mile. He came back to win the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby by 5 1/2 lengths and will stretch out to 1 1/2 miles for the Belmont.
“It was a very good race and it showed he has matured a lot,” said Chretien of the UAE Derby effort. “He went to Saudi before the run at Meydan and it took him a while to mature, but he has matured a lot and he won the Derby with class. We just have to keep his mind relaxed because to do well in these big races you need a horse as cool as possible in his head.”
Chretien said the sizable gelding should appreciate the stretch out in distance.
“I think he’s built that way and more distance will suit him,” said Chretien. “He’s a big boy.”
No specific target is confirmed yet for Desert Peace, a 4-year-old son of Curlin who was purchased for $1.3 million from the Eaton Sales consignment to the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, but the June 4 True North Stakes (G2) at 6 1/2 furlongs is a possibility. Desert Peace has won three of five starts, including his most recent race March 11 when going a mile on Meydan’s main track.
“We’ll see how he trains, but he could aim for the True North. Time will tell,” said Chretien.
Summer Romance and Althiqa are targeting the June 5 Longines Just a Game Stakes (G1T) for older fillies and mares at a mile on the turf. Racing on Meydan’s turf, they finished first and third, respectively, in the Feb. 18 Balanchine Stakes Sponsored by Range Rover (G2) at 1 1/8 miles. Althiqa won the Jan. 28 Cape Verdi Stakes Presented by Longines (G2) there going a mile, with Summer Romance fifth in that effort.
“The two fillies are physically very similar. They both won in Dubai and will run in the same race here in New York,” said Chretien.
Appleby previously indicated a good result in the Just a Game could see Summer Romance try her luck in the July 17 Diana Stakes (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course
“Summer Romance is one who can handle a little more distance going forward,” said Chretien.