The Friday before the Belmont Stakes was a race day for some of Todd Pletcher's New York-based trainees, but for those who weren't competing it was afternoon recess as usual, beginning around 3 p.m. In small groups, about thirty horses, each accompanied by a groom, got a chance to graze, nibble tree leaves, and take in the sights. For some, the most interesting sight seemed to be a photographer's camera: both Life At Ten and a very cautious Travelin Man reached over the fence to thoroughly examine it, running their muzzles up and down the lens.
Isabel Escobar leads Awesome Maria from the barn to the adjacent paddock so the four-year-old stakes-winning daughter of Maria's Mon can stretch her legs.
Awesome Maria is joined by three-year-old filly Shared Heart . . .
. . . who spooks at a sound from a nearby barn.
Aikenite, a Florida-bred four-year-old colt, stands quietly among his stablemates.
Her Smile, scheduled to run the next day in the Acorn Stakes for three-year-old fillies, seems to know the camera is there just for her.
Savvy Supreme, also entered in the Acorn, looks toward the fence at some visitors who've come to see her.
Three-year-old Gambling Geraldine (left) and six-year-old Caixa Eletronica (below) both belong to Repole Stable, best known for owning Uncle Mo.
Rule, a 2007 colt by Roman Ruler, makes a Zenyatta-style entrance into the paddock.
Dark Thunder is a 2007 Florida-bred gelding . . .
. . . and Ibboyee is a 2007 New York-bred colt.
Calibrachoa, a 2007 Kentucky-bred colt, is another Repole Stable horse.
Life At Ten spies some low-hanging leaves she can't resist.
Rose Catherine (left and below) grazes.
Cal Nation searches for the perfect patch of grass. The three-year-old son of Distorted Humor won the first time he ran, in February at Gulfstream.
Four-year-old filly Hilda's Passion joins her stablemates in the paddock.
Loup Breton is a seven-year-old Irish-bred grandson of Danzig who began his racing career in Europe.
R Holiday Mood, winner of the Miss Preakness Stakes three weeks earlier at Pimlico, quietly grazes.
Sweet Cat is only two and, on this June day, still unraced.
Travelin Man, entered in the next day's Woody Stephens Stakes for three-year-olds, keeps a wary eye on his surroundings.
Stay Thirsty, Repole Stable's "other horse," relaxes the day before his next big race, the Belmont Stakes.
Sidney's Candy returns to the barn after his session in the sun.