Racing on the turf at Belmont Park in Elmont, NY
A total of eight European contenders arrived at Belmont Park on Friday to prepare for the 10-furlong beginning legs of the Caesars Turf Triple series, featuring the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational for sophomores and the Grade 1, $700,000 Belmont Oaks Invitational for 3-year-old fillies.
The initial legs of the Turf Triple series are part of four graded events slated for the Stars and Stripes Racing Festival on Saturday, July 9, which also boasts the Grade 2, $400,000 Suburban, and a 10-furlong test for older horses; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Victory Ride, and a 6 1/2-furlong sprint for sophomore fillies.
The European hopefuls traveled from Liege, Belgium, to New York and arrived at Belmont at 11:30 am Those arriving for the Belmont Derby included Implementation [Pia Brandt]Machete [Fabrice Chappet]Nations Pride [Charlie Appleby] and Royal Patronage [Charles Johnston].
The Belmont Oaks arrivals were Agartha [Joseph O’Brien]Hot Queen [Pia Brandt]Know Thyself [Francis-Henri Graffard] and With the Moonlight [Charlie Appleby]. Creative Flair [Appleby] also shipped over with an eye to the $150,000 River Memories on July 10 as part of a long-term plan to try the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana on July 16 at Saratoga Race Course.
Turf Triple invitees from Aidan O’Brien’s yard are expected to ship to New York on Tuesday with Stone Age targeting the Belmont Derby and Concert Hall pointing to the Belmont Oaks.
Sophie Chretien, traveling assistant for Appleby, oversaw the training of Althiqa and Summer Romance here last year, running one-two in both the Grade 1 Longines Just a Game at Belmont and the Grade 1 Diana at the Spa. She said her contingent traveled well.
“It was a long trip but everyone is good,” Chretien said. “They were very settled in the flight from Liege to New York and now they can’t wait to get out.”
Nations Pride, by Teofilo, exits an eighth in the 12-furlong Group 1 Epsom Derby on June 4, five weeks after a seven-length romp over subsequent Derby runner-up Hoo Ya Mal in the Newmarket Stakes. The homebred had a four-race win streak snapped at Epsom, with his three previous wins all coming on flat courses, including a 3 1/4-length score in the 10-furlong Jumeirah Derby at Meydan in Dubai.
“I think he will suit this kind of racing,” Chretien said. “He’s an interesting horse. He won in Dubai on firm ground. Hopefully, we will have firm ground next Saturday. For both of them, I hope the ground is on the firm side.”
With The Moonlight, who won the Pretty Polly in May at Newmarket, exits an off-the-board effort in the Group 1 Oaks at Epsom on June 3. The daughter of Frankel is a full-sister to Group 1 winner Dream Castle and was twice a winner over flat courses as a juvenile.
“She’s a big mom. She’s a big, scopey filly,” Chretien said. “She won in Newmarket on a straight line. It will be interesting to see how she copes with an American track.”
Creative Flair shipped to New York last year and finished third in the Saratoga Oaks and fourth in the Jockey Club Oaks. She kicked off her season with a strong victory in the Group 2 Balanchine at Meydan over nine furlongs.
“She’s in great form,” Chretien said. “She won the Balanchine in Dubai and she’s become a stronger filly both mentally and physically. I hope she does well.”
The European contingent that arrived this morning are expected to clear quarantine in time to train Sunday morning.
The Caesars Belmont Derby Invitational will again launch the male division of the Turf Triple series that encompasses the Grade 1, $1 million Caesars Saratoga Derby Invitational at 1 3/16-miles on August 6 and the Grade 3, $1 million Caesars Jockey Club Derby Invitational at 12 furlongs during the Belmont fall meet.
The Belmont Oaks Invitational begins the female division of the Turf Triple series, which will be followed by the Grade 3, $700,000 Saratoga Oaks at 1 3/16-miles on August 7 and conclude with the Grade 3, $700,000 Jockey Club Oaks at 11 furlongs during the fall.