Whew! We've got such star-studded fields lined up for Saturday that it almost feels like the Breeder's Cup!
The 153rd running of the Belmont Stakes (G1) comes at Race 11, Post Time of 6:49 PM ET. Check out HRR Valerie Mellema's article here, to see the post positions drawn.
Let's jump into the preview.
The $400K Woody Stephens Stakes (G1) — 7 furlongs, Dirt, Three-year-olds. 12:47 PM ET.
JACKIE'S WARRIOR is the 7-5 morning-line favorite for trainer Steve Asmussen. The son of MACLEAN'S MUSIC has been unstoppable at one-turn races. He's got the fastest early speed, he's a Grade 1 winner over this exact trip. The strategy is simple: catch me if you can. Regular rider Joel Rosario is back in the irons. DREAM SHAKE is the 5-2 second choice for trainer Peter Eurton and will be ridden by Flavien Prat. The son of TWIRLING CANDY ran too well to lose last time out in the Pat Day Mile (G2), missing by just a head to the above favorite. DREAM SHAKE was close to the blistering pace that day, while having to race wide. With a ground-saving trip, his late kick could prove much stronger than what we saw. CADDO RIVER at 4-1 will break from the outside post for trainer Brad Cox. The son of HARD SPUN cuts back to a distance he's had more success in. He'll have to overcome a two-month layoff. Regular rider Florent Geroux is back for the task.
The $400K Brooklyn Stakes (G2) — 1 1/2 miles, Dirt, Four-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 1:22 PM ET.
TIZMAGICIAN is 7-2 on the morning-line for trainer Richard Mandella. The West Coast invader exits a victory in the Tokyo City (G3), which is contested at one mile and one-half, and which he won by nine lengths. Note his sharp 5F workout on May 30th, going 1:00.6 as the 6th fastest of 44 works at that distance. Flavien Prat is back onboard. MUSICAL HEART at 9-2 breaks from post-position five. He's done some of his best running on the lead and comes off a wire to wire victory in the Flat Out Stakes for trainer Rob Atras. He has not failed to hit the board in all 9 of his last races. Kendrick Carmouche gets the call. LONE ROCK is also 9-2 on the morning-line for trainer Robertino Diodoro. He's run well in his last three races, all which were run at this one mile and one-half distance. The son of MAJESTIC WARRIOR delivered a sharp 4F workout on May 29th, going :48 flat. He will be piloted by Ramon Vazquez.
The $500K Acorn Stakes (G1) — 1 mile, Dirt, Fillies, Three-years-old. Post Time is 2:01 PM ET.
SEARCH RESULTS breaks from the eighth-slot for trainer Chad Brown, and is the even-money favorite. The daughter of FLATTER comes off a game second-place finish to MALATHAAT in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) last time out. Note she achieved her strongest late speed figure going one mile. Irad Ortiz Jr. is back in the irons. MISS BRAZIL is 5-1 on the morning line. She breaks from the three-hole and is an interesting competitor for trainer Anthony Dutrow. The daughter of PALACE MALICE dueled with SEARCH RESULTS all the way to the wire in the Busher Invitational Stakes, but settled for second place. She followed that effort up with an impressive Allowance race score at Belmont Park going shorter, wiring that field decisively. Javier Castellano gets onboard for the first time. TRAVEL COLUMN for trainer Brad Cox seeks to redeem her fifth place finish last time out in the Kentucky Oaks. She breaks from the rail and is 7-2 on the morning line, with Florent Geroux back in the saddle.
The $400K Jaipur Stakes (G1) — 6 furlongs, Turf, Three-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 2:41 PM ET.
BOUND FOR NOWHERE is 2-1 on the morning line for trainer Wesley Ward. The son of THE FACTOR was very impressive winning the Shakertown Stakes (G2) in his comeback race of over nine months. His versatility allows him to set the pace or sit off of it. If he's gunned for the lead, he's got :21 quarter-speed to contend with. GOT STORMY seeks to redeem her previous loss in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2), where she flattened in the stretch and finished off the board. She now cuts back in distance where she's had great success. Don't forget she was 4-1 on winning the Breeders Cup Turf Sprint (G1) just last Fall. FAST BOAT makes his second start off a layoff for trainer Joe Sharp. He'll be flying late for jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., as he goes for his third straight victory, and first win at Belmont Park. Note his bullet work on May 29th, going 3F in :35.60, indicating his readiness to compete.
The $500K Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) — 1 1/16 miles, Dirt, Fillies and Mares, Four-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 3:18 PM ET.
LETRUSKA for trainer Fausto Gutierrez is the "now" horse, and is the 9-5 morning-line favorite with Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard. The daughter of SUPER SAVER defeated the Champion mare, MONOMOY GIRL last time out, which automatically demands respect. She's won four of her last six races, all of which were graded races. But she still needs to settle her score with SHEDARESTHEDEVIL, who beat her on the square in the Azeri Stakes (G2). VALIANCE is back on the scene after a seven-month hiatus. Todd Pletcher admitted this was a tough spot, but that the gray mare by TAPIT seemed to be training well enough. Her win against SHEDARESTHEDEVIL and runner-up finish to MONOMOY GIRL puts her competitively in this mix. SWISS SKYDIVER gets a new rider in Jose Ortiz as she seeks to redeem her non-threatening, third-place finish last time out in the Apple Blossom Stakes (G1). To her defense, she didn't get the best of trips, encountering traffic both on the backside and also turning for home. She drew the rail again, but she overcame the rail draw at Santa Anita in the Beholder Mile, so she's not without a plan. Look out!
The $500K Just A Game Stakes (G1) — 1 mile, Turf, Fillies and Mares, Four-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 3:58 PM ET.
Chad Brown is loaded in this race. He sends the quadruplet of: BLOWOUT, TAMAHERE, POCKET SQUARE, and REGAL GLORY. BLOWOUT is the top favorite among the four at odds of 4-1. She wired her rivals last time out in the Distaff Turf Mile (G2) at Churchill Downs. Her resume is unignorable: 4 wins, 7 seconds, and 1 third from 12 lifetime starts. In six of those second-place finishes, she never lost by more than three-quarters of a length. Flavien Prat returns for the task and will try to take them gate to wire. Two European fillies from the Charles Appleby stable join the fray: SUMMER ROMANCE at 6-1, to be ridden by Luis Saez, and ALTHIQA at 8-1, to be ridden by Mike Smith. Charles Appleby wins at a considerably high rate with shippers to the United States. ALWAYS SHOPPING at 12-1 is an interesting player here for trainer Todd Pletcher. She cuts back in distance after a runner-up finish in last month's Sheepshead Bay Stakes (G2), which, on paper, was billed tougher than most of her rivals' last races. ALWAYS SHOPPING ran extremely well that day, tying her top speed figure despite a third-place finish. John Velazauez will pilot her for the first time.
The $1,000,000 Metropolitan Mile Handicap (G1) — 1 mile, Dirt, Three-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 4:42 PM ET.
KNICKS GO is the 6-5 morning-line favorite making his Belmont Park debut for trainer Brad Cox. Yes, the son of PAYNTER has been away for three months, but has demolished fields coming back from much longer absences. Joel Rosario is back for the assignment. SILVER STATE is on fire right now for trainer Steve Asmussen, going for his sixth consecutive victory at odds of 7-2 on the morning line. The son of HARD SPUN earned a new top speed figure last time out. He will be piloted by regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr., as he makes his Belmont Park debut. DR. POST for trainer Todd Pletcher is 9-2 on the morning-line. He earned a new top speed figure last time out in the Westchester Stakes (G3). It'll be his second start off an eighth-month layoff. Note his sharp 5F workout on May 28th, going 1:01.2 as the second fastest of 10 works at that distance.
The $750K Manhattan Stakes (G1) — 1 1/4 miles, Turf, Four-year-olds and upward. Post Time is 5:38 PM ET.
COLONEL LIAM (5-2) from the Todd Pletcher barn, and DOMESTIC SPENDING (3-1) from the Chad Brown barn, renew their rivalry after dead-heating last time out in the Turf Classic Invitational (G1). COLONEL LIAM will be making his first start at Belmont Park, whereas DOMESTIC SPENDING has already won over this track, and (just about) at this distance. Late-running GUFO (5-1) joins the fray, breaking from the ninth-slot for trainer Christoph Clement. He makes his second start off a layoff and has superb late speed, which will have him flying in the stretch late. Joel Rosario returns for the mount. CHANNEL CAT (12-1) brings an interesting presence for trainer Jack Sisterson. John Velazquez rode the son of ENGLISH CHANNEL to a wire to wire victory last time out in the Man O War Stakes (G1). The 6-year-old veteran has the Grade 1 class and grit that makes him tough to get by in the stretch.
The $1,500,000 Belmont Stakes (G1) — 1 1/2 miles, Dirt, Three-year-olds, Post Time is 6:49 PM ET.
ROCK YOUR WORLD (9-2) for trainer John Sadler gets the chance to prove how good he is, and to assert his authority in the three-year-old division. A disastrous break compromised his chances in the Kentucky Derby. He's bred to welcome the extra distance and Joel Rosario is back for the task. ESSENTIAL QUALITY (2-1) arguably ran the best race on Kentucky Derby day, according to his trainer Brad Cox. He had to race wide and run further than most of his rivals, yet finished a decent fourth. Regular rider Luis Saez is back on board. Looking for a longshot play for the Third Jewel? Have a look at the second longest shot on the morning-line, OVERTOOK (20-1) from the Todd Pletcher stable. He is a $1 million-purchased son of CURLIN and is very well-bred to handle this twelve furlong assignment. He's a fresh horse and will run with blinkers on, for the first time. On paper, he had "no kick" in his last race, yet he started to get rolling late, even passing the leaders in the gallop-out. This is a colt who is sitting on a big race, it's just a question of when it'll happen. Note his sharp 4F workout on May 28th, going :48.4 as the fifth fastest of 86 works at that distance. Manuel Franco rode him to two starts back and is back onboard.
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