By Nicholas Godfrey
USA: Mike Smith has been booked to ride Charlie Appleby’s Belmont Stakes contender Rebel’s Romance in the final leg of the Triple Crown in New York on June 5.
‘Big Money Mike’ will also partner Althiqa and Desert Peace for Appleby in big races at the Belmont Festival, while Luiz Saez will partner Summer Romance.
All four horses breezed at Belmont on Saturday, when UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance was paired with Desert Peace, set to run in the G2 True North.
“They worked six furlongs and the time was good – they’re getting better in their fitness,” said Appleby’s travelling assistant Sophie Chretien, speakin to the NYRA media team.
“Rebel stayed at the back of Desert Peace, we didn’t want to ask him too hard. But he traveled much better than last time and went out seven-eighths.”
Summer Romance and Althiqa, first and third in the G2 Balanchine at Meydan on February 18, will both contest the $500,000 Just A Game over a mile on turf.
“The fillies went to the grass for the first time today and had a good, strong piece of work,” said Chretien. “They had a good blow. They needed it. I liked the way they moved on the grass. It’s been a dry week and the grass is good. They will go again next Saturday.”
Rivals for Rebel’s Romance in the Belmont Stakes are headed by fellow Godolphin representative Essential Quality, trained by US champion Brad Cox, and Preakness Stakes winner Rombauer.