Applebee: Closer look Belmont Derby/Oaks 7.8.23
Happy Belmont Derby Day!
Today is excellent card headlined by the first legs of the Turf Triple and Fillies Turf Triple for three year olds. The second legs will be run at Saratoga in August and the final races in the sequence will be held at Aqueduct in the Fall.
Race 8 – The Belmont Oaks Invitational – Grade I
One Mile and One Quarter on the Inner Turf for Three Year Old Fillies
This is a competitive race with a couple of good Euros as well as the top two finishers from both the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont and the Regret Stakes at Churchill.
- Mission of Joy: Easily bested the field last out in the Regret Stakes (90 Beyer) at 3/5 where Gaffalione hand rode her. Three for four this year and would probably be undefeated but clipped heels in the Edgewood. Shows sped fig improvement in each race. Should be forward while saving ground. The Pick.
- Strikingly Spun: No excuse in the last outing, which was a conditioned allowance race, going eleven furlongs, where she pressed a slow pace but couldn’t hold close the deal (85 Beyer). Two back she ground out a win, but it was a slow race (73 Beyer). Gets the acid test today. Lasix comes off. Demand a price.
- Speirling Beag: First time starting in North America for Graham Motion in her second start of the year. Her last win was two back in October going nine furlongs at Leopardstown against the colts in the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes where she got uncovered in the stretch and won a head bob after a strong drive. Second race of the year – fresh. Win candidate.
- Papilio: Had a bit of a tough trip where she was stalled behind a wall of horses in the Regret Stakes. This filly ran well late when she got a seam to get up for second (88 Beyer). That race showed more ground could work for her. Steady performer should be moving late. Underneath in exotics.
- Prerequisite: Won the Wonder Again by getting to the front early and holding off the closers (85 Beyer). She was strong late even though she set a decent early pace. Should be on the pace and could be lone speed. Can she get ten furlongs? Underlay candidate. Gets a piece.
- Be Your Best: Ran well last out in the Wonder Again but couldn’t catch Prerequisite in the stretch (85 Beyer). Two back she failed to fire in the Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland (70 Beyer). Seems like last time was her chance to break through and will need a repeat of that Wonder Again performance plus take a step forward to win here. Don’t see it.
- Aspray: Chad Brown trainee is undefeated in three career starts with a stakes win last out in the Hilltop Stakes at Pimlico (87 Beyer). Shows a turn of foot when called upon. Stretches out from a mile to ten furlongs but has the breeding on the bottom side (Galileo) to get the distance. Faces tougher today. Lasix comes off. Potential for a small piece.
- Freydis the Red: Broke her maiden at Churchill last out in her sixth career start (79 Beyer). Makes the big jump to Grade 1 company. Should sit well off the pace and make one run. Will need a serious pace meltdown. Lasix comes off. Maybe fills out a super.
- Aspen Grove: Justify colt ships in from Europe for James Stack where she gets huge class relief after being no match in the Group I 1000 Guineas at the Curragh. Two back she was a competitive third after being five wide the whole way in a Group III at Leopardstown. Will need to go a two furlongs further than she has run to date. Should be coming from back of the pack. Not convinced.
Race 10 – The Belmont Derby Invitational – Grade I
One Mile and One Quarter on the Inner Turf for Three Year Olds
This is very betable race where a good case can be made for at least a half dozen runners. Much like the Oaks division this race has quality Euros and numerous strong American based runners who are in good form.
- Mendelssohns March: Moved back to the turf by Ken McPeek after failing to impress in the Blue Grass. He was a good second last out in the Audubon Stakes at Churchill where he led in the stretch but was out finished by Webslinger (84 Beyer). Looking elsewhere.
- Boppy O: Won last out in the Jersey Derby at Monmouth (93 Beyer) for Mark Casse where he sat at the back of the pack down the backstretch and rolled down the middle of the track to win late. Only carried 115 pounds that day – gains seven pounds today, but also gains Luis Saez. Pedigree doesn’t scream long on the turf. Don’t think so.
- Cyber Ninja: Broke his maiden for Bill Mott going eleven furlongs (80 Beyer) last out and now cuts back to a eleven furlongs. Ran great in the stretch. Working well. Big jump in class. Lasix comes off. Potential at a big price.
- Webslinger: On a two race win streak and mostly recently at Churchill in the listed Audubon Stakes he swept by the leaders at the top of the stretch. (86 Beyer). Best of the second tier. Possible minor award.
- Far Bridge: Hasn’t finished out of the exacta in four career starts for Pletcher. Defeated by Kalik last out in the Pennine Ridge where he ran well but couldn’t get to the early leader. Two back he lost a head bob to Webslinger in the American Turf where he closed nicely. By English Channel – should like the extra ground today. Needs to show he can win. Possible slice.
- Silver Knott: This Charlie Appleby trainee remained stateside after finishing third in the Pennine Ridge (87 Beyer) behind Kalik. Should appreciate the longer distance today as that race flow didn’t suit his closing style last out. Lost the head bob in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last Fall. Richard Mullen comes across the pond to retain the mount. Win candidate.
- Wizard of Westwood: Won at today’s ten furlong distance in the Cinema Stakes at Santa Anita last month (86 Beyer). He got to the front and repulses a challenge at the top of the stretch. Hasn’t been off the board in five career starts. Faces a much deeper group here today. Would be a surprise.
- Kalik: Chad Brown runner walked the dog on the front end in the Pennine Ridge and had plenty left to hold off the closers (90 Beyer). He’ll need a repeat of that effort again today while going longer. Undefeated in three efforts this year. Won’t be able to be solo today up front with the Wizard of Westwood to his inside. Don’t love the race flow setup. Lean against.
- Mondego: Winner of his last two starts moves to graded stakes company today. In his most recent win against N1X company (83 Beyer) he sat a nice trip and once he got in the clear he showed a good turn of foot to get the win. Two for two over this course. Needs to be faster. Lasix comes off. Passing.
- Redistricting: British bred gelding by Kingman won on debut for Irad/Chad/Klaravich (87 Beyer) as he easily handled the field and drew off. Looked like an old pro, not a first time maiden. This one is bred to go long on grass. Lasix comes off. It’s a class jump for sure but Chad wins at 20% off this angle (second time starter in a graded stakes race) and hits the board at a 76% clip. Upset possibility at a price.
- The Foxes: Euro shipper won two back he won a Group II at York going a half furlong longer than today with nice stalking performance. A month ago he ran well in the Grade I Betfred Derby at Epsom but was out matched and flattened late. That was at twelve furlongs and he gets the turnback today – which should suit him. Oisin Murphy comes in from England to retain the mount. The Pick.