One of the best days in Belmont Park racing, perhaps the second best day behind Belmont Stakes day, is among us, the Stars and Stripes Festival. Inspired by the American Oaks of California, the Belmont Oaks was established a few years ago, and it, along with the Belmont Derby, have become international features. This year’s editions are no different, and with four other stakes races on the card, Belmont Park has one of the best cards in the nation today.
Here are my Stakes Selections:
Victory Ride (GIII)
-Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez team up with the Miss Preakness winner, Lost Raven, to try and take the first race of the day. A good winner last time out, she races a weak field here. It seems as if many in this field want the turf, but Lost Raven loves the dirt and being an Uncle Mo gives her a lot of speed. Also watch out for Behrnik’s Bank as a live longshot.
-I have been very high on Swipe for a long time, and his late bid in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after a troubled trip help solidify him as a contender. Injury plagued his spring, but after a decent comeback in which he showed promise but wanted more distance, he should be ready here. This may be too short for him, but he shows a lot of talent.
Belmont Derby (GI)
-The first major turf race of the day, the Belmont Derby, has a field of 13 going, including three from overseas. Ralis and Airoforce look like sure well performers here, but Aidan O’Brien sends over two, with his best show with the inner of the two, Long Island Sound. The War Front three year old ran a grand third in the Tercentenary Stakes to Hawkbill, who is becoming a world class racehorse in his own right, winning the Coral-Eclipse over The Gurkha and Time Test last time out. Long Island Sound could solidify Hawkbill’s form with a win here, and O’Brien doesn’t send over horses on the turf if he doesn’t think they have a shot.
Suburban Handicap (GII)
-Many Breeders’ Cup Classic hopefuls start here, as a prep for the Whitney at Saratoga, runner up in last year’s Classic, Effinex, hopes to put himself in the conversation for the Classic. After a poor performance in the Stephan Foster, he looks to rebound. But I will take Mubtaahij, first time for Kiaran McLaughlin, after a very game second place in the Dubai World Cup, he looks for a win here. He ran his best race in the States last year at Belmont Park and returns here looking for a good performance.
Belmont Oaks (GI)
-No three year old filly has been as dominant on the turf as Catch A Glimpse, and she looks to extend her winning streak here, and Florent Geroux chooses to ride her instead of The Pizza Man at Arlington Park. She looks dominant here and another great turf star for Mark Casse. O’Brien has a live horse in Ballydoyle, and hopes his other contingent, Coolmore, tires out Catch A Glimpse early. Ballydoyle has a good chance, but Catch A Glimpse looks to be too good for this class after beating the boys last time out in the Penn Mile.
Belmont Sprint Championship (GIII)
-The best sprinters in the East Coast square off going seven furlongs. Private Zone returns off of a long layoff, and looks to continue to dominate the New York sprint circuit. But watch out for Joking, winner of the True North last time out. He is turning into one very strong sprinter, and while maybe not at Private Zone’s level, I think the layoff will hurt him, letting Joking take another.
The racing is sure to be great. Don’t miss an amazing card!