Belmont Derby, Oaks draw O’brien quar­tet

Daily Racing Form Saturday Stakes Preview - - FRONT PAGE - – David Gren­ing

ELMONT, N.Y. – They may not be the very best horses in his arse­nal, but trainer Ai­dan O’brien looks to have a strong hand in both the Belmont Derby and Belmont Oaks, the pair of Grade 1 turf events that high­light Satur­day’s Stars and Stripes card at Belmont Park.

O’brien, who fin­ished sec­ond in the 2014 Belmont Derby with Ade­laide, will send out Deauville and Long Is­land Sound in this year’s $1.25 mil­lion Derby. O’brien, who fin­ished third in last year’s Oaks with Out­stand­ing, has the duo of Bal­ly­doyle and Cool­more to run in Satur­day’s third edi­tion of the $1 mil­lion Oaks. Both races are sched­uled for 1 1/4 miles on the in­ner turf course. The Oaks of­fers a fees-paid berth in the Breed­ers’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita in Novem­ber.

“He tries to sep­a­rate them the best he can,” T.J. Comer­ford, an as­sis­tant to O’brien, said Wed­nes­day af­ter all four horses gal­loped over the Belmont main track. “It’s hard to bring them here when you’re try­ing to win races in Europe as well, but these are very good horses we’re bring­ing.”

Deauville, a son of Galileo, was a Group 3 win­ner at 2. This year, he was beaten a neck in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York be­fore run­ning a dis­ap­point­ing 11th in the Ep­som Derby on June 4.

“The race at York, he ran very well,” Comer­ford said. “If he comes with that run again, he’ll be very hard to beat.”

Re­gard­ing the Ep­som Derby, Comer­ford said Deauville may not have cared for the soft ground at Ep­som, and the com­pe­ti­tion might have been too tough.

“You’re go­ing a mile and a half against the best horses in a cou­ple of coun­tries,” Comer­ford said. “He wasn’t up to that.”

Deauville, who will be rid­den by Jamie Spencer, drew post 13. He will run with Lasix for the first time, as will all of O’brien’s run­ners, ac­cord­ing to Comer­ford

Long Is­land Sound is a Ken­tucky-bred son of War Front. His dam, Trea­sure Trail, is a half-sis­ter to Zeny­atta. Long Is­land Sound won his first three starts be­fore fin­ish­ing third, beaten four lengths by Hawk­bill, in the Group 3 Ter­cente­nary at Royal As­cot. Hawk­bill has won six con­sec­u­tive races, in­clud­ing the Group 1 Co­ral Eclipse at Sandown last week­end.

“He ran well at As­cot on ground that prob­a­bly didn’t suit him,” Comer­ford said. “He’ll def­i­nitely be bet­ter on bet­ter ground.”

Colm O’donoghue will ride Long Is­land Sound from post 7.

Humphrey Bog­art is the other Euro­pean-based run­ner in the Derby field. He fin­ished fifth in the Ep­som Derby be­fore run­ning sixth in the Group 2 King Ed­ward at Royal As­cot.

The North Amer­i­can con­tin­gent for the Derby is led by Camelot Kit­ten and High­land Sky, the 1-2 fin­ish­ers in the Grade 3 Pen­nine Ridge here on June 4. Camelot Kit­ten, who breaks from post 6, is joined by sta­ble­mates Call Pro­vi­sion (post 12), third in the Pen­nine Ridge, and Beach Pa­trol (post 9). All three are trained by Chad Brown.

Airo­force, Ap­pli­ca­tor, Aqua­pho­bia, Ralis, Sur­gi­cal Strike, and Tough­est ‘Om­bre com­plete the field.

O’brien’s top turf fil­lies in­clude Mind­ing and Alice Springs, who re­mained in Europe. But Bal­ly­doyle’s form sug­gests she be­longs in that group and makes her a top con­tender in the Belmont Oaks. Bal­ly­doyle fin­ished sec­ond be­hind Mind­ing and in front of Alice Springs in the English 1000 Guineas in May at New­mar­ket. Most re­cently, Bal­ly­doyle fin­ished sixth in the Group 1 Prix de Diane on June 19 at Chan­tilly, beaten 3 1/4 lengths.

“The last time in France, she ran on soft­ish ground from a bad draw,” Comer­ford said.

Cool­more ac­tu­ally fin­ished one spot in front of Bal­ly­doyle in the Prix de Diane, her best race this year. At age 2, she won a Group 3 in Ire­land.

“She ran a blinder; she was up there all the way, she came home well, she stayed on there at the fin­ish,” Comer­ford said. “That was a very good run for her for this year. She’s start­ing to come back to her­self.”

O’donoghue will ride Bal­ly­doyle from post 7, while Spencer has the call on Cool­more from post 13.

Catch a Glimpse, a win­ner of seven straight for trainer Mark Casse, drew post 12, while Time and Mo­tion, who is 3 for 3 this year, in­clud­ing a half-length vic­tory in the Won­der Again Stakes, drew post 4. Har­mo­nize and Last Waltz, sec­ond and third in the Won­der Again, are back in this field.

Also en­tered were Aun­tie Joy, Decked Out, Land Over Sea, Mag­nanime, Priced­top­er­fec­tion, No­ble Beauty, and Se­cure Ac­cess.

The Derby, Oaks, and Grade 2 Sub­ur­ban will be shown live dur­ing a 90-minute broad­cast on NBC be­gin­ning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

It has been five years since trainer Neil Howard last started a horse at Belmont Park. But he re­turns here Satur­day with Ea­gle, a top-flight con­tender in the Grade 2, $500,000 Sub­ur­ban Hand­i­cap.

Ea­gle, a son of Candy Ride, is run­ning back just three weeks af­ter he fin­ished sec­ond, a halflength be­hind Bradester, in the Grade 1 Stephen Fos­ter Hand­i­cap at Churchill Downs. Though the Sub­ur­ban means run­ning him back on short rest, Howard said the op­por­tu­nity to run Ea­gle 1 1/4 miles “was ap­peal­ing.”

Howard added, “Un­til they do it, you don’t know for sure, but we felt it was some­thing within his grasp.”

Howard trains Ea­gle for

Wil­liam S. Far­ish. They teamed to win the 2003 Sub­ur­ban – then a Grade 1 – with Mi­ne­shaft, who was voted Horse of the Year.

Ea­gle has fin­ished sec­ond in four of the last six stakes in which he’s com­peted. He won the Grade 3 Ben Ali at Keeneland and fin­ished fourth, but was placed third via dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion, in the Grade 2 New Or­leans Hand­i­cap at Fair Grounds. Ea­gle has been ex­tremely con­sis­tent since re­turn­ing from an eight­month lay­off last Septem­ber.

“With this horse, more than any­thing, it’s been his ma­tu­rity,” Howard said. “He was a lit­tle bit of a play­boy for a while. He al­ways ran well, but he needed to ma­ture and grow up a lit­tle bit. To say [he’s ma­tured] is an un­der­state­ment.”

Brian Her­nan­dez will ride Ea­gle from post 4.

Effinex, last year’s Sub­ur­ban win­ner and the 122-pound high­weight this year, will break from post 5 and be re­united with Mike Smith. No­ble Bird drew the rail, fol­lowed by Mub­taahij, Shaman Ghost, Ea­gle, Effinex, Turco Bravo, Sam­raat, and Tapin Mojo.

Trainer Eric Guil­lot won the Dwyer Stakes three years ago with Moreno, who was com­ing off a maiden vic­tory three weeks ear­lier. This year, Guil­lot will try to win the Dwyer with Laoban, who, de­spite hav­ing com­peted in four graded stakes, re­mains a maiden.

Laoban, a son of Un­cle Mo, fin­ished third in the Grade 3 Sham at Santa Anita in Fe­bru­ary and sec­ond in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct in March. Af­ter fin­ish­ing fourth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, he didn’t have enough points to make it into the Ken­tucky Derby field. He ran in the Preak­ness and fin­ished sixth.

On Satur­day, Laoban will be back­ing up to a one-turn mile while putting blink­ers back on. Laoban did not wear blink­ers in the Preak­ness.

“He needs them,” Guil­lot said. “I like this horse back­ing up and fresh­ened. He didn’t run that bad in the Preak­ness con­sid­er­ing he hated the mud, was eight wide, and stum­bled out of the gate.”

John Ve­lazquez will ride Laoban from post 4. He is one of two speed horses in the race. Fish Trappe Road, the run­nerup in the seven-fur­long Woody Stephens Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day, is the other speed and will break from post 8.

Pri­vate Zone will fi­nally get to make his 7-year-old de­but in Satur­day’s Grade 3, $500,000 Belmont Sprint Cham­pi­onship, a race he won last year.

Pri­vate Zone was en­tered in the Grade 2 True North on June 10 but had to scratch af­ter trainer Brian Lynch sur­ren­dered his li­cense due to fail­ing a ran­dom drug test. Lynch has since been re­in­stated.

Pri­vate Zone has not raced since fin­ish­ing fifth in the Grade 1 Ci­gar Mile last Nov. 28. He has been work­ing ex­tremely well and shows a trio of bul­let works for his re­turn. He will break from post 2 un­der Martin Pe­droza.

Among the chal­lengers are Jok­ing, who up­set the True North to give trainer Charl­ton Baker his first graded stakes vic­tory, and A. P. In­dian, the win­ner of the Don Levine Memo­rial at Parx. Com­plet­ing the field are An­chor Down, the run­ner-up in the Met Mile, Ready for Rye, Roxbury N Over­ton, Mark­ing, Nu­bin Ridge, and Green Gratto.

Lost Raven showed a new di­men­sion when she ral­lied from eighth to win the Grade 3 Miss Preak­ness Stakes at Pim­lico on May 20. That off-thep­ace style might suit her well again in Satur­day’s Grade 3, $150,000 Vic­tory Ride Stakes, a 6 1/2-fur­long race that has plenty of speed types in its nine-horse field.

Lost Raven, a daugh­ter of Un­cle Mo, won the Ci­cada Stakes at Aqueduct on the lead prior to the Miss Preak­ness. She will break from post 8 un­der John Ve­lazquez.

The Vic­tory Ride is loaded with speed, in­clud­ing Behrnik’s Bank, Coppa, and Ap­peal­ing Mag­gie. Com­plet­ing the field are One True Kiss, the run­ner-up in the Miss Preak­ness, Blast, Flat­tery­will­getyou, Stradi­var­ius, and Mal­ibu Stacy.

The Vic­tory Ride is the first leg of an all-stakes pick six that has a $300,000-guar­an­teed pool. First post is 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

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