Weekend Lineup Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Bright Skies Ahead For Belmont Stakes - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Weekend Lineup Presented By Del Mar Ship & Win: Bright Skies Ahead For Belmont Stakes

Forte training at Belmont Park

Following significant improvement in air quality conditions throughout New York State, live racing will resume at Belmont Park Friday. The 11-race card, highlighted by five graded stakes, raises the curtain on the 2023 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival after poor air quality forced the cancelation of Thursday's twilight racing program and the closure of Belmont and Saratoga Race Course for training.

Live racing also resumes Friday at Woodbine and Laurel Park, also affected by poor air quality earlier this week.

On Saturday, a competitive nine-horse field that includes 2022 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt Forte, Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner National Treasure and three Grade 1 Kentucky Derby alumni comprises the 155th running of the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes.

The Belmont Stakes is one of six Grade 1 events carded for Saturday as part of a 13-race card. The blockbuster Saturday program also features three Breeders' Cup “Win And You're In” qualifying events, including the $500,000 Ogden Phipps [Distaff], $400,000 Jaipur [Turf Sprint], and $1 million Hill 'n' Dale Metropolitan Handicap [Dirt Mile].

In the latter, fan-favorite Cody's Wish will look to build upon an already memorable list of achievements for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. The “Met Mile,” carded as Race 10, features five Grade 1 winners and awards the winner with a berth to the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile in November at Santa Anita Park.

Other big runners expected to race this weekend at Belmont Park include:

  • Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous in the G1 Acorn
  • Reigning champion sprinter Elite Power in the G2 True North
  • Top distaffers Clairiere and Secret Oath face off in the G1 Ogden Phipps
  • Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel takes on males in the G1 Jaipur

Also this weekend, Churchill Downs' Spring Meet continues at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., beginning on Saturday. Sunday's Ellis card is highlighted by the $400,000 Matt Winn (G3), featuring a handful of Kentucky Derby alumni including fourth-place finisher Disarm.


2:28 p.m. – Grade 1 Just A Game at Belmont Park

After saddling five winners in the race's previous six editions, Brown will send out Peter Brant's In Italian and Speak of the Devil in the one-mile Widener turf contest.

Four-time graded stakes-winner In Italian, who commenced her 5-year-old campaign the same way she tore through her 2022 year by posting a three-length victory in the G1 Jenny Wiley, has registered triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures in four consecutive starts.

Speak of the Devil ran fourth in last year's running of the Just A Game. The French-bred mare did not race again in 2022, but started her 6-year-old year with a fifth-place effort in the G3 Honey Fox in March at Gulfstream Park before earning black type with a third-place finish in the G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile in May.

Just A Game Entries

4:41 p.m. – Grade 1 New York Stakes at Belmont Park

War Like Goddess, a force in America's filly and mare turf division over the previous two seasons, will seek her third Grade 1 victory in Friday's 10-furlong inner turf test for older fillies and mares.

Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, War Like Goddess exits a 1 1/2-length successful seasonal bow in the Grade 3 Bewitch on April 28 at Keeneland, her third consecutive win in that fixture and a continuation of strong 2022 form that she capped with a win in the Grade 1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational and a third in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf – both against males.

Chad Brown, who has won the New York four of the past seven years, including with Bleecker Street in 2022, enters a capable quartet: McKulick, Marketsegmentation, Virginia Joy, and Shantisara.

Godolphin will be represented by the well-traveled With The Moonlight [post 8, William Buick], who is no stranger to these shores, having won last summer's Grade 3 Saratoga Oaks Invitational over 1 3/16 miles.A dual Group 2 winner in Dubai to commence 2023, the Charlie Appleby trainee enters off a pair of losses, including a second in the Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and a sixth in the Group 2 Dahlia at Newmarket over soft going.

New York Entries

5:14 p.m. – Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park

Kentucky Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous stands tall amongst her seven rivals as the lone Grade 1 winner in the field with field-best earnings of $1,206,560. Trained by Brendan Walsh, the Into Mischief filly backs up to one turn for this 1 1/16-mile contest for 3-year-old fillies.

Fellow Kentucky Oaks alumnus Dorth Vader [post 1, John Velazquez] makes her first outing since finishing fifth on the First Friday in May, as well as her first start for conditioner George Weaver after making her first nine appearances for Michael “Bo” Yates.

Trainer Chad Brown saddles three contenders in graded stakes-placed Accede [post 8, Flavien Prat]; stakes-winner Occult [post 4, Jose Ortiz]; and maiden winner Randomized [post 2, Manny Franco].

Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher will have two chances to win his fourth Acorn as he sends out the speedy stakes-winner Munnys Gold [post 5, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] and two-time winner Frosty O Toole [post 3, Luis Saez].

Acorn Entries


3:02 p.m. – Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes at Belmont Park

Three-time Grade 1 winner Clairiere will face last year's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath for the third time this season when seeking a repeat conquest of the Grade 1, $500,000 Ogden Phipps.

Now a 5-year-old, Steve Asmussen trainee Clairiere is poised for another high-caliber season, which she kicked off with a runner-up effort to Secret Oath in the Grade 2 Azeri on March 11 at Oaklawn Park. She then turned the tables on Secret Oath in Oaklawn Park's Grade 1 Apple Blossom Handicap on April 15, furiously mowing down the 2022 Kentucky Oaks winner in deep stretch to win by a neck.

After handing Clariere a 2 3/4-length defeat in the Azeri, Secret Oath appeared poised for victory in the upper stretch of the Apple Blossom under Tyler Gaffalione, but was thwarted by her rival in the final furlong. A daughter of Arrogate trained by D. Wayne Lukas, she enters the Ogden Phipps off another neck defeat when second to returning rival Played Hard in the Grade 1 La Troienne on May 6 at Churchill Downs.

Chad Brown-trained Search Results [post 2, Flavien Prat] will make her third straight appearance in a Grade 1 on the Belmont Stakes undercard. The dark bay 5-year-old Into Mischief mare finished third in last year's Ogden Phipps and will be in pursuit of her first Grade 1 victory since capturing the 2021 Acorn here on Belmont Stakes Day. She has finished at least third in 12-of-13 lifetime starts, only missing the board in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff when sixth beaten 10 lengths.

Ogden Phipps Entries

3:42 p.m. – Grade 1 Woody Stephens Stakes at Belmont Park

General Jim will look to win his third straight graded stakes in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Woody Stephens, a seven-furlong sprint for sophomores at Belmont Park. 

Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, the Into Mischief colt made the grade in February in the seven-furlong Grade 3 Swale at Gulfstream Park, posting a one-length score over next-out stakes winner Super Chow. General Jim followed last out with a gutsy neck score over returning rival Fort Bragg in a frantic finish in the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Bob Baffert, a two-time Woody Stephens winner, will saddle a pair of contenders in Fort Bragg [post 8, Joel Rosario] and Arabian Lion [post 3, John Velazquez].

Drew's Gold [post 13, Jose Gomez] is undefeated in four starts and will make his graded debut for trainer James Chapman, who co-owns the $25,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase in partnership with Stuart Tsujimoto.

Woody Stephens Entries

4:19 p.m. – Grade 1 Jaipur Stakes at Belmont Park

Reigning Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Caravel will again face males as part of an overflow field for the six-furlong Widener turf sprint. Caravel has returned in fine form this year with a pair of 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint wins in Kentucky, taking the Grade 2 Shakertown against males in April at Keeneland and the Unbridled Sidney on Kentucky Oaks Day at Churchill Downs. She was re-routed to the Jaipur after initially being considered for the Group 1 King's Stand on June 20 at Ascot.

Casa Creed [post 11, Luis Saez] has won the last two runnings of this event for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Casa Creed traveled to Saudi Arabia for his seasonal debut and lost a heartbreaker in the Group 3 1351 Turf Sprint when a head back of Bathrat Leon. That effort nearly replicated his narrow defeat in that same event last year when a neck in arrears of the supremely talented Songline, who successfully defended the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen on Sunday in Tokyo.

Jaipur Entries

5:04 p.m. – Grade 1 Met Mile at Belmont Park

Cody's Wish has more than proved worthy of his name, entering the Met Mile on a five-race win streak that includes three consecutive Grade 1 victories at three different racetracks. The Bill Mott trainee exits a facile score in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs on May 6, closing from last-of-9 under returning rider Junior Alvarado to take the lead at the top of the stretch and lengthen his winning margin to 4 3/4 lengths. He earned a 105 Beyer Speed Figure in his 5-year-old debut.

Dual Grade 1-winner Dr. Schivel makes his first trip to the East Coast for conditioner Mark Glatt on the heels of an impressive 4 1/4-length allowance win on May 13 at Santa Anita Park that garnered a career-high 105 Beyer Speed Figure.

Graded stakes-winner Charge It seeks his first Grade 1 victory for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Tapit fits in among the top contenders of the field in terms of speed figures with a career-high 111 Beyer Speed Figure when taking the Grade 3 Dwyer by 23 lengths here in June.

Zandon, winner of last year's Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, may be in search of his first victory since then for trainer Chad Brown, but brings a consistent and competitive record of on-the-board finishes in 5-of-6 starts since. 

Fellow Grade 1 winners White Abarrio [post 9, Tyler Gaffalione, 120 pounds] and Doppelganger [post 8, Jevian Toledo, 120 pounds] are both in search of their first trips to the winner's circle since the spring.

Met Mile Entries

5:54 p.m. – Grade 1 Manhattan at Belmont Park

Recent Grade 1 winners Up to the Mark and Red Knight top a decade of contenders for Saturday's 10-furlong inner turf test for 4-year-olds and up.

Up to the Mark exits a breakout performance in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Turf Classic at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, dismissing rivals by a widening 3 3/4 lengths and earning an eye-catching 103 Beyer Speed Figure.

Veteran Red Knight enters off a 12th career victory in the 11-furlong Grade 1 Man o' War on May 13, his first top-level tally. The 9-year-old son of Pure Prize was a handy victor under Ortiz Jr., striding out by 1 1/2 lengths at the wire to land his second NYRA stakes, having also taken the 2019 Point of Entry. Since being transferred to Mike Maker prior to his 2022 season, the earner of $1,717,763 has won four of his seven starts, all in stakes company. Tyler Gaffalione picks up the mount from post 6, as Ortiz Jr. has opted for the aforementioned.

Manhattan Entries

7:02 p.m. – Grade 1 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park

Favorite Forte has drawn the sixth post position in a field of nine for this weekend's Belmont Stakes.

The race will mark a comeback opportunity for the Todd Pletcher-trained colt, who was the subject of much media attention last month when he became a last-minute veterinary scratch from the Kentucky Derby. It was later revealed that, unrelatedly, the Eclipse Award-winner also had a pending drug positive from a race he won as a 2-year-old. The New York Times broke the news of Forte's positive post-race test for meloxicam just ahead of a meeting between his connections and New York stewards, who ultimately disqualified him from his win in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes.

Forte was placed on the veterinarian's list in Kentucky following his scratch from the Derby, which prohibited him from running in the Preakness. Pletcher told media over the weekend that the colt had completed the required workout before a regulatory veterinarian and post-work drug testing came back clear.

Forte will face stablemate Tapit Trice in the 1 1/2-mile contest, with the son of Tapit breaking from Post 2. Tapit Trice finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby and previously prevailed in a tough victory in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes.

The third betting choice on the morning line will be Brad Cox trainee Angel of Empire, who won the G1 Arkansas Derby en route to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby. He has finished off the board just once in his career of seven races thus far.

Six trainers account for the nine entries in this year's Belmont Stakes.

Belmont Stakes Entries

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