Weekend Lineup Presented By BetMakers: International Flavor In Belmont Turf Invitationals - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
Closex

Weekend Lineup Presented By BetMakers: International Flavor In Belmont Turf Invitationals

Racing on the turf at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.

International challengers abound in this weekend's Grade 1 turf contests for 3-year-olds at Belmont Park, and the home team's challenge is far from lacking as well. Five European challengers are entered among 13 starters in the G1 Belmont Derby Invitational, while the fillies' race drew an additional five overseas entrants in the field of 10.

Earlier on Belmont's Saturday card, the G2 Suburban features an interesting lineup of older dirt talent, including First Captain and Dynamic One.

Delaware Park offers up the prestigious Delaware Handicap on Saturday, topped by prep-race winner Miss Leslie.

The summer derby season continues with the G3 Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indianapolis, highlighted by the one-week turnaround of favorite Rattle N Roll, and the listed Iowa Derby at Prairie Meadows, for which the morning-line favorite in the field of 10 is Todd Pletcher trainee Major General.

Prairie Meadows' card also includes the G3 Iowa Oaks and G3 Cornhusker, which drew fields of eight and six, respectively.

Also worth noting that the weekend includes the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, in which Royal Ascot winner Perfect Power faces Australian challenger Artorius among a field of 14.

Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's graded stakes:

2:32 p.m. – Grade 2 Suburban Stakes at Belmont Park

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will seek to build on his recent graded stakes success at Belmont when he saddles Dynamic One and Untreated in the $400,000 Suburban (G2). Dynamic One exits a one-length victory in the listed Blame on June 4 at Churchill Downs, where he recorded a career-best 99 Beyer Speed Figure. Untreated strives for his first win since capturing a pair of one-turn mile tests over the winter at Aqueduct. The 4-year-old Nyquist bay arrives in fair form, finishing a pacesetting third in the G3 Pimlico Special in May, which came on the heels of a close second in the Excelsior on April 2 at Aqueduct.

First Captain, a last out winner of the G3 Pimlico Special, will aim to become the first horse to secure the Pimlico Special-Suburban double since Invasor [2006] and Mineshaft [2003], who were both named Horse of the Year following their respective campaigns.

Max Player will attempt to be the first horse to sweep back-to-back editions since Effinex in 2015-16. Soundly beaten in both of his starts this year, the son of Honor Code will attempt his first trip to the winner's circle since capturing last year's Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup at Saratoga.

Suburban Entries

3:30 p.m. – Grade 2 Delaware Handicap at Delaware Park

Miss Leslie tops Saturday's 85th renewal of the $500,000, Grade 2 Delaware Handicap, which has attracted a field of seven. In her most recent effort, Miss Leslie notched a half-length victory in the local prep, the 1 1/16-mile $150,000 Obeah Stakes on June 8. Previously, the 4-year-old daughter of Paynter won the mile and seventy-yard $106,000 Serena's Song at Monmouth Park by 4 ½-lengths on May 8. The Kentucky-bred trained by Claudio Gonzalez has career record of nine wins, three seconds and two thirds from 21 starts with $565,650. She is unbeaten at Delaware Park.

Battle Bling will be looking to turn the tables on Miss Leslie. In her last, she ran second to Miss Leslie as the 4-to-5 favorite in the Obeah Stakes. Previously, Battle Bling was fourth in the G1 La Troienne over 1 1/16 miles at Churchill Downs on May 6. The 4-year-old daughter of Vancouver trained by Rob Atras has a career record of thee wins, seven seconds and a third from 17 starts with earnings of $315,617.

Delaware Handicap Entries

4:06 p.m. – Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational at Belmont Park

A competitive field featuring three contenders from the barn of Chad Brown and five invaders from Europe lead a 10-horse field assembled for Saturday's Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies going 10 furlongs over the inner turf at Belmont Park.

Brown's trainees include: Consumer Spending, who has won both of her starts this year at stakes level; McKulick, who boasts three graded stakes placings in four lifetime starts; and Haughty, who brings a consistent 4-2-0-2 record to the Belmont Oaks, exiting her first stakes victory in the Penn Oaks on June 4 at Penn National.

Five fillies by way of Europe have crossed the Atlantic Ocean in search of Belmont Oaks accolades representing three countries, including Ireland's dual group stakes winner Agartha for trainer Joseph O'Brien. Internationally acclaimed trainer Aidan O'Brien, the father of Joseph, will seek his third Belmont Oaks victory when sending out Group 1-placed Concert Hall.

Trainer Charlie Appleby will looking to build on his recent success in shipping horses to high caliber wins in North America with With The Moonlight, and representing France in the Belmont Oaks are Francis-Henri Graffard-trained Know Thyself and Hot Queen from the yard of Pia Brandt.

Belmont Oaks Entries

5:12 p.m. – Grade 1 Belmont Derby Invitational at Belmont Park

Godolphin's Irish homebred Nations Pride will look to continue a tremendous run of form in North America for trainer Charlie Appleby when he takes on an international field of 13 Saturday in the $1-million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational. Nations Pride exits an eighth-place finish in the Cazoo Epsom Derby (G1) June 4 which came five weeks after a seven-length romp over subsequent Derby runner-up Hoo Ya Mal in the 10-furlong listed Newmarket Stakes.

Trainer Aidan O'Brien will be represented by the promising Stone Age, a Galileo colt who ran a strong second as a maiden in the Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud in October before graduating in March at Navan in his seasonal debut. Stone Age followed with an eye-catching score in the Group 3 Derby Trial at Leopardstown over 10 furlongs before finishing sixth last out in the 12-furlong Epsom Derby as the second choice.

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will be in search of a third Belmont Derby score following wins by Finality [2002] and Take the Points [2009] when he sends out graded-stakes winners Emmanuel and Grand Sonata. Emmanuel, by More Than Ready, made a winning turf debut last out with a gate-to-wire score in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Pennine Ridge on June 4 at Belmont.

Grand Sonata launched his campaign with a pair of stakes scores on the Gulfstream turf, capturing the one-mile Dania Beach on New Year's Day and the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Kitten's Joy in February. He returned in April to finish a close second to Belmont Derby-rival Sy Dog in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Transylvania before a deep-closing third last out in the nine-furlong Audubon on June 4 at Churchill Downs.

Owner and trainer Ken McPeek will saddle a pair of Kentucky Derby (G1) alumni in Tiz the Bomb and Classic Causeway.

Belmont Derby Entries

6:40 p.m. – Grade 3 Indiana Derby at Horseshoe Indianapolis

King Ottoman went from being a footnote as the workmate of champion Echo Zulu to the headline when he captured Lone Star Park's $300,000 Texas Derby on Memorial Day. Now the Steve Asmussen-trained 3-year-old colt can take another step toward building his resume in the Indiana Derby.

Brad Cox trainee Best Actor captured his debut at Oaklawn Park at 1 1/16 miles, then took an off-the-turf, one-turn mile allowance race at Churchill. He's the 4-1 third choice in the field of 10 behind 5-2 favorite Rattle N Roll (who won last Saturday's off-the-turf American Derby at Churchill) and 7-2 Actuator, a “buzz” horse since romping in a very fast-run maiden race.

After winning the American Derby with Rattle N Roll, McPeek raised the possibility of running back in the Indiana Derby or the Iowa Derby, whose field had been drawn that morning. While he wanted to see how Rattle N Roll bounced out of the race, McPeek on Wednesday declared it all systems go to run in the Indiana Derby, for which Rattle N Roll is the 5-2 favorite in a field of 10. Regular rider Brian Hernandez Jr. has the mount.

Indiana Derby Entries

Paulick Report Icon
GET OUR NEWSLETTER

Receive daily headlines, breaking news alerts, promotions, and much more!

Subscribe
Ask Ray?

Have a question for Ray that you'd like answered? Have a news tip? Ray will go to his network of sources in pursuit of an answer.

Ask Ray