Belmont Park Turf Triple
Happy Turf Triple Day!
Today’s card has three stakes races headlined by the third legs of the Turf Triple – the Jockey Club Oaks for three year old fillies and Jockey Club Derby for three year old colts. These two races are ungraded, but I am sure a Grade I or Grade II status is coming for both races once the series is run a couple of times. Both of these races have very good, competitive fields with a distinct European flavor as several top Euro barns have shipped horses in.
Race 9 Jockey Club Oaks Invitational
One Mile and Three Furlongs On The Inner Turf for Three Year Old Fillies
September 18, 2021
This $700,000 race has a very competitive field that includes two of the top three finishers in the Saratoga Oaks Invitational, as well as several international based fillies. This is most certainly a spread race in horizontals – make a stand here at your own peril.
1. Creative Flair: This Charlie Appleby trained filly was inside in the Saratoga Oaks sitting in the third flight and came running late but had a bit of traffic trouble. However, once in the clear she showed very good turn of foot to get up for third. Should like the added ground here. She’s six of seven in the money and will be running late. Jamie Spencer comes over from the UK to ride here. Like almost all of these Godolphin/Appleby runners who ship in – she is well meant. On all tickets.
2. Higher Truth: This Chad Brown trained filly ran well in the first two legs of this series finishing third to Santa Barbara and second to Con Lima respectively. Last out she sat behind Con Lima who got away with soft fractions and she wasn’t able to run that one down – but was gaining late. Added ground should help. Has hit the board in four of five starts. This is “THE” Chad. Has improved Beyer fig in each of her five starts with a 91 last out. Likely to get a piece of the pie, but I’ll look elsewhere for the winner.
3. Baby Blythe: Impressively broke her maiden sitting well off a hot early pace and when given her cue, ran past the field on the far turn and drew off to win by seven lengths earning a 90 Beyer. Steps up to winners here and this group is certainly saltier – will need another improvement to get top spot. Lasix comes off for the first time. I am not sure she will get the pace she is looking for. Rosario is riding at Woodbine this weekend – Luis Saez takes the reins. Not thinking today is the day.
4. Be Up: This Temple City (Dynaformer) sired filly should like going long and ran her best race yet at nine and half furlongs against optional claimers at Colonial Downs two weeks ago. In addition she broke her maiden at today’s distance. But this is a huge jump in class. Jonathan Thomas spots his horses well, but this one would need to improve her Beyer fig by 15-20 points to win here. No, thank you.
5. Madone: This one ships in from Del Mar where she won the San Clemente in July and followed that up with close up fifth in the Del Mar Oaks. She can stalk or make one run from the back of the pack. Lifetime she is five for eight, and in 2021 she has two wins from four starts. Johnny V gets the mount. Interesting outsider. But my concern with her is going this far. Is that what she is asking for? Doesn’t seem so.
6. Shantisara: Won the Pucker Up at Arlington last time earning a 87 Beyer. She was a bit rank and wide, but it didn’t matter as Flavian Prat got her to settle when it mattered and kicked away from the field in the last sixteenth to win by three lengths. Previous start was a good second in the Boiling Springs at Monmouth. This is the “Other” Chad. Prat comes in to ride her again. Eligible for an underneath award.
7. Harajuku: Andre Fabre ships in this runner from France where she has been very competitive in Group 2 and Group 3 fields – winning the Group 3 Prix Cleopatre in May. She was even only a length off of Joan of Arc in the Group 1 Prix de Diane at Chantilly in June. Both career wins have come over firm footing, and she should get that today. Regular rider Stephane Pasquier comes in from France for the mount. She should relish the distance, gets firm going, and her regular rider comes in from France for Andre Fabre. The Pick.
Race 10 – The Jockey Club Derby Invitational
One Mile and a Half on the Widener Turf, For Three Year Olds
September 18, 2021
This $1 million race has attracted a wide variety of runners – three from Europe, two out of the Virginia Derby, a New York State bred, and Solider Rising who recently transferred from Andre Fabre to Christophe Clement. Quite a collection. I will lean on the European based horses here as they appear to have the edge on the American runners.
1. Tango Tango Tango: He likes to be on or near the pace and got a great trip last out in the Bruce D at Arlington – sat chilly behind a soft pace and he kicked on past the early leader but ran unevenly in the stretch and was passed by the eventual winner. Could provide some pace here. Won the American Derby in prior effort. Does he want twelve furlongs? I don’t see evidence of that. Passing.
2. Yibir: Charlie Appleby brings this Godolphin owned colt from England where he won the Group II at York at today’s twelve furlongs. He also won a Group III this summer at Newmarket at thirteen furlongs. Distance should be his friend – as those long distance wins indicate. In both recent wins he settled towards the rear and quickened when asked to win by open lengths. At York he was blocked for a good furlong in the stretch but still prevailed fairly easily. Super dangerous shipper – the Pick.
3. Tokyo Gold: This European invader shipped in from Italy to run second in the Belmont Derby in July. On that day he sat towards the rear of the pack, tipped out in the stretch, and passed the entire field save Bolshoi Ballet, who he could not track down. Longer should help him here. Using at a price.
4. Soldier Rising: Soldier Rising comes off a second place finish in the Saratoga Derby in what was his first start for Christophe Clement with a field high 94 Beyer. That day he ran well and almost got to the winner. His only win this year was at twelve furlongs in an allowance race in France, so the distance should suit him. Clement does well with second off the layoff types in grass stakes races finishing in the money at almost a 50% clip. Legit win candidate.
5. Step Dancer: Has been running in New York Stallion restricted stakes races this summer and won last out at Saratoga showing an excellent turn of foot in the last sixteenth to make up five lengths on a loose on the lead type. Tries open company today and he has proven successful in doing so before when he won the Awad Stakes last year at the Spa. He has never been as long as a twelve furlongs. The water seems awful deep here. He’ll have to love all the extra ground to be competitive. You’ll get a price – good luck.
6. Experienced: The least experienced runner of this group, he finished a disappointing fifth in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs as the 5/2 favorite. In his two stakes starts he has made up some ground in the stretch but hasn’t shown that pop needed to close out a race against experienced runners. He’ll hope to be coming in the lane, but will need others to falter to get a piece.
7. Slicked Back: Brad Cox ships in from Indiana Grand where this one has been working since a good second in the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs last month. Capable horse, does he want this distance? Luis Saez picks up the mount – speed figs are not too far off. Outside draw doesn’t help. Overmatched.
8. Bolshoi Ballet: This Aiden O’Brien trained colt won the Belmont Derby in June before finishing fourth in the Saratoga Derby as an over bet 6/5 favorite. He won the Belmont Derby (86 Beyer) by sitting mid-pack and kicking on in the final sixteenth under urging. In the Saratoga start he was up close but faltered in the stretch after going too fast early. His regular jockey Ryan Moore comes to the U.S. again for the mount. If he can get a moderate pace, he can be dangerous. This one was scheduled to run at Longchamp last Sunday and was the morning line favorite in the Group 2 Prix Niel, but a vaccination paperwork issue caused him to be scratched and the barn redirected here. Dangerous connections, but this is not what they were aiming for and he just shipped into Belmont on Tuesday from Ireland after shipping from France to Ireland on Sunday. I don’t want him at a short price. Use defensively and underneath.