The connections of Carpe Diem announced Monday morning that they would not run the colt in Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.
Todd Pletcher will now be represented by Materiality and Madefromlucky in the Belmont. With Carpe Diem’s defection, rider assignments have been firmed up: John Velazquez will ride Materiality and Javier Castellano has the mount on Madefromlucky.
Elliott Walden, CEO of WinStar Farm, which owns Carpe Diem in partnership with Stonestreet Stables, said he and Pletcher didn’t believe the colt was at his best for the assignment at hand.
“Todd and I have been talking all of the last week,” Walden said by phone from Kentucky on Monday. “We just felt he wasn’t 100 percent going into what is a phenomenal race, with a horse of such high stature. He was maybe 85 to 90 percent.”
Walden noted that while Carpe Diem’s last two works were favorable from a final time perspective, the son of Giant’s Causeway “drifted slightly” in his most recent work here last Friday.
The goal now for Carpe Diem, winner of the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes earlier this spring, is either the Grade 2 Jim Dandy on August 1 at Saratoga Race Course or the Grade 1 Haskell the following day at Monmouth Park.
WinStar still has a huge rooting interest in the final leg of the Triple Crown, as the farm stands Pioneerof the Nile, American Pharoah’s sire.