NEW YORK -- The projected field for the Belmont Stakes is down to eight after two withdrawals the day before the post-position draw.
Neither Ethereal Road nor Howling Time will run in the third leg of horse racing's Triple Crown on Saturday, which is set to feature Kentucky Derby winner Rich Strike.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas on Monday said Ethereal Road has a quarter crack in one of his hooves, which will keep him out. Ethereal Road, whose withdrawal from the Derby paved the way for Rich Strike's upset victory at odds of 80-1, won the $100,000 Sir Barton Stakes on the Preakness undercard May 21.
Instead of going to Belmont Park, Howling Time will remain in Louisville and run in a race at Churchill Downs on Saturday, according to trainer Dale Romans.
Rich Strike did not run in the Preakness two weeks after the Derby, with owner Rick Dawson citing the need for extra rest.
The plan was to target the 1½-mile Belmont, and Rich Strike has been at the track in New York since last week.
Preakness third-place finisher Creative Minister and fifth-place finisher Skippylongstocking are still set to run in the Belmont. The trainer and owner of Preakness winner Early Voting never considered the Belmont as the colt's next race.
Back from the Derby along with Rich Strike are Mo Donegal, who finished fifth, and Barber Road, who was sixth. No horses are set to run in all three Triple Crown races this year.
Rounding out the expected field is the Todd Pletcher-trained filly Nest, who was the Kentucky Oaks favorite and finished second behind Secret Oath; and We the People and Golden Glider, who ran first and second in the Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont Park on June 14.