Lady Eli, Divisidero in Grade 1 turf tests
ELMONT, N.Y. – The second annual Stars and Stripes card Saturday at Belmont Park definitely will have an all-american feel to it.
European participation for the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational, for 3-year-old males, and the $1 million Belmont Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, was rather light, with only four horses – two males and two females – entered in the two Grade 1 turf races. Last year, in the inaugural running of these two races, there were a combined nine European-based horses entered.
New York Racing Association officials had made multiple trips to Europe over the first six months of the year in hopes of recruiting participants for these races. Several trainers told NYRA representatives that they planned to come but did not. One problem, according to Adrian Beaumont of the International Racing Bureau, was that Hong Kong interests purchased several European horses who were being pointed to these races.
Despite the lack of Europeans, the Belmont Oaks – a Win and You’re In race for the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf – drew a full field of 14, led by the undefeated Lady Eli, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. She drew post 2 and was one of three entered by trainer Chad Brown, who also entered Strict Compliance, the winner of the Penn Oaks at Penn National, and Consumer Credit, the winner of the Memories of Silver Stakes here and the third-place finisher in the Grade 1 American Oaks at Santa Anita. Consumer Credit drew post 7, while Strict Compliance drew post 14.
Spanish Queen, the winner of the American Oaks as well as the Grade 2 Honeymoon, drew post 6.
The two European entrants are Olorda, a Group 3 winner in France, and Outstanding, a full sister to 2013 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Magician. After losing her only two starts last year, Outstanding is 2 for 2 this year, including a listed stakes victory at 1 1/4 miles June 24 in Ireland.
“She won nicely, she beat the favorite, and we had the third-place finisher in the same race,” said T.J. Comerford, head traveling lad for trainer Aidan O’brien. “She’s a decent filly. The trip is ideal for her. She’ll love the ground.”
Colm O’donoghue will ride Outstanding from post 10.
Olorda lost her first two starts at age 2 but has gone 2 for 3 at age 3, all with blinkers added, according to Gerlinde Muhlbichler, who is overseeing the German-bred filly for trainer Michael Figge.
John Velazquez has been booked to ride Olorda, who breaks from post 8.
Others entered include Itsonlyactingdad, Miss Chatelaine, Pine Needles, Sentiero Italia, Sharla Rae, Daring Duchess, and Gypsy Judy.
The Belmont Oaks is race 10 on the 11-race card and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, along with the Grade 2 Suburban, in a one-hour telecast.
Divisidero, the winner of the Pennine Ridge Stakes here May 30, and Bolo, a winner of 3 of 4 starts on turf who ran 12th in the Kentucky Derby, figure to vie for favoritism in the Belmont Derby, which is race 8. Divisidero will break from post 2 under Rafael Hernandez, and Bolo will leave from post 3 under Rafael Bejarano.
The two European-based runners in this year’s Derby are Postulation, trained by Dermot Weld, and Canndal, trained by Mikel Delzangles.
Postulation, a Kentucky-bred son of Harlan’s Holiday, has finished first or second in six of eight starts but never has run in a group or graded race. He did defeat the Group 1 winner Parish Hall in a listed stakes at The Curragh in Ireland in June at the Belmont Derby distance of 1 1/4 miles.
“The horse he beat the last time was a Group 1 winner,” said Jeff Byrne, head traveling lad for Weld. “He’s a horse that runs his race.”
Patrick Smullen will ride Postulation from post 7.
Canndal, a French-bred colt, has one win from five starts, but that win did come at 1 1/4 miles.
Brown has two entered in the Belmont Derby: Takeover Target and Startup Nation, who drew posts 1 and 8. Also entered were Force the Pass, Closing Bell, and Granny’s Kitten.
Lady Eli wins the Wonder Again Stakes at Belmont on May 31.