Jockey John Velazquez, who won the Belmont Stakes last year with filly Rags to Riches, will be aboard the Todd Pletcher-trained Ready's
Echo for Saturday's 140th renewal.
Pletcher's stable rider, Velazquez had committed to Anak Nakal, trained by Hall of Famer Nick Zito, for the Belmont, before a solid workout on
Sunday convinced Pletcher to run Ready's Echo. Zito, who remains in Saratoga Springs, released Velazquez today after consulting with Kassem Masri of
Four Roses Thoroughbreds, which owns Anak Nakal.
"Most people in racing know the situation. Todd Pletcher is his main client," Zito said by phone. "Mr. Masri just didn't want to go there. He
said, 'Let's just have fun.' It's just common sense. Johnny was in a jam. What are you going to do? A different trainer or a different stable might not have done that. We're fine with everything."
Julien Leparoux has been named to ride Anak Nakal. Zito, who plans to arrive with the horses on Wednesday, also said he enlisted Alan Garcia to be aboard Da'Tara for the Belmont.
For more on the Belmont, read today's Phil-ing in the Blanks.