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Howling Time Will Bypass Belmont, Target Matt Winn Stakes

James Murphy
by in Horses on
  • Howling Time has been withdrawn from consideration for the Belmont Stakes by trainer Dale Romans.
  • Howling Time will be pointed to the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 12, 2022.
  • The 2022 Belmont Stakes will be held on June 11, 2022 at New York’s Belmont Park.

The projected field for the Belmont Stakes is down to nine after trainer Dale Romans removed Howling Time from consideration earlier today. Romans discussed the plan for Howling Time going forward with Jason Loutsch, racing manager for the Albaugh Family Stables, and decided that shipping him to New York for the Belmont wouldn’t be in his best interest.

Instead, Howling Time will remain at Churchill Downs and compete in the June 12 running of the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes. This not only has the advantage of being run at Churchill Downs but is at a shorter distance of a mile and one sixteenth.

Howling Time is in the same category as the other recent Belmont defections Brigadier General and Kuchar–they’re good though not great horses that have been somewhat disappointing. In his most recent outing, Howling Time won a 1 1/16 mile allowance race at Churchill Downs on May 21 by an impressive five lengths and turned in a 90 Beyer in the process. Finishing second was another ‘good but not great’ competitor in one time Kentucky Derby contender Rattle n Roll. Rattle n Roll won the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last October and was expected to be among the cream of the 2022 crop of three year olds. Instead, he disappointed with a sixth place finish in the Fountain of Youth, a fourth place finish in the Louisiana Derby and a sixth place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes. Given his once high expectations, it’s tough to consider a second place in an allowance race with a field of five a sign of a turnaround.

Here’s his May 21 race (advance to the 15:35 mark for Race 10 if the video doesn’t cue it up automatically):

Good effort on an off track, albeit against an overmatched field. Howling Time might not have been as big of a prospect as Rattle n Roll off his Breeders’ Futurity win but he did open his racing career impressively. He began with two wins in two races but starting with the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club last November he didn’t hit the board in his next three races. He finished fifth in the Kentucky Jockey Club, 9th in the G2 Fountain of Youth and 8th in the G3 Lexington. That was all she wrote for any hopes of a Kentucky Derby berth but a win–even against second rate competition–is at least something positive.

Now it looks like Howling Time’s connections are hoping to reprise the success of his previous race at the same track going the same distance. Last year’s running of the Matt Winn had a field of 7 meaning that the race could likely have a similar field size to Howling Time’s recent allowance win. With so many big stakes races on the Belmont card on Saturday this might be a good ‘next step’ for Howling Time and low key a way to get him a solid stakes race performance against what would likely be a small and less than formidable field.

Another subpoint about Howling Time’s previous race–he ran with Lasix for the first time. Lasix isn’t permitted in graded stakes races meaning that he’ll be back running without it in his next race. Romans is previously said that he’s hoping Lasix wasn’t the reason for his strong performance last time out:

“You never know if the Lasix may’ve had something to do with how big he ran but he’d never shown any signs of bleeding before. Hopefully it’s more a matter of him starting to mature and come around than anything else. He came out of the race in great shape.”

Howling Time might face another one time ‘prospective’ Belmont entrant–Brigadier General was taken out of consideration for the Belmont late last week and is expected to be pointed to the Matt Winn or the Ohio Derby.


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