The rain on Friday should clear out and there will be sunny skies for Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Day at Belmont Park which will feature five graded stakes with $3.25 million up for grabs.
The rains on Friday figure to leave the turf course less than firm which may suit the eight overseas invaders, four which will go in the $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) for three-year-olds. There are also four Euro invaders that crossed the pond for the $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational (G1). Both races will be contested at 1 ¼ miles on the inner turf course.
Supporting the two rich stakes are the $200,000 Dwyer (G3) for three-year-olds at 1 1/6 miles on the main track, the $400,000 Belmont Sprint Championship (G3) for three-year-olds and upward at seven furlongs on dirt and the $500,000 Suburban Handicap (G2) at 1 ¼ miles for older runners on the main track.
The Belmont Oaks is a Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, with the winner earning an automatic starting berth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1). The race will be televised on NBC Sports Network at 5:00 pm (ET).
Here is a quick look at the five stakes on Saturday’s card:
Dwyer: A compact field of six will line up, with the Todd Pletcher trained Tiz Dark the 8-5 morning line favorite. The colt was an impressive maiden winner in his second career start on May 25, earning a 97 Beyer Speed Figure. He gets a class test and faces a tough customer in Kid Cruz, who rebounded nicely from his eighth place finish in the Preakness Stakes (G1) by winning the Easy Goer in his last start over the Belmont Park main track on June 7.
Belmont Sprint Championship: Central Banker ships in from Kentucky where the Al Stall trainee won the Churchill Downs (G2) in his last outing by a head and earning a career best 107 Beyer. The colt is the 5-2 morning line favorite. He faces eight foes including True North (G2) winner Palace (7-2), Carter handicap (G1) winner Dads Cap (10-1) and Clearly Now (3-1) who is looking to snap a four-race losing streak since winning the Bold Ruler Handicap (G3) last fall.
Belmont Derby: Formerly known as the Jamaica Handicap, the race drew a field of 11 including UAE Derby (G2) winner Toast of New York (7-2), one of four overseas invaders. The Euros are a strong group, including King Edward VII Stakes (G2) runner up Adelaide (7-2) and Gailo Chop (5-1), who won the Prix Noailles (G3) at Longchamp in his last start.
Suburban Handicap: A wide-open field of 11 will line up in this 1 ¼ mile race on the main track led by Romansh (3-1), who was third in the Met Mile (G1) in his last start, beaten 1 ½ lengths by the winner Palace Malice. Last Gunfighter (7-2) won the Mountianview at Penn National in his last outing, his first off a six-month layoff. The race also features a pair that went down the Triple Crown trail last year, Vyjack (20-1) and Mylute (15-1) as well as Moreno (8-1), who missed winning last year’s Travers (G1) in a photo.
Belmont Oaks: The Euros may have the edge, with the highly regarded Xcellence (5-2) shipping in off a third place finish in the Prix de Diane Longines (G1) at Chantilly in France in her last outing. Flying Jib (5-1) has won three in a row for trainer Dermot Weld and will be facing graded stakes company for the first time. The best of the U.S. contingent is Room Service (3-1) who won the American Oaks (G1) in her last start at Santa Anita, her third win in a row. She won the Herecomesthebride (G3) on turf followed by the Ashland (G1) on poly in her two previous wins.
My full card report for Belmont Park will be available on Friday afternoon and I will preview the Belmont Oaks for Bleacher Report.
Michael’s Saratoga Report includes his selections, analysis, fair odds line, and wagering recommendations. Mike has been handicapping the New York Racing circuit on a daily basis for nearly three decades. Get the entire 40-day meeting between July 18–Sept. 1 for just $99.95!