International Runners Headline Belmont Derby


Horses race off the turn into the stretch on the turf course at Belmont Park. (Photo by Eclipse Sportswire)

The Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational (formerly the Jamaica Handicap) attracted a field of 11 three-year-olds including horses that made their most recent races in the United Arab Emirates, Great Britain and France. Leading the field in terms of big wins to date is Group 2 U.A.E. Derby winner Toast of New York.  That big victory came on the all-weather Tapeta surface and the colt finished fifth in his only previous start on turf. Adelaide ships in from the United Kingdom and may have an experience edge as he won the Group 3 Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes at this mile and one-quarter turf trip in May. Another import, Gailo Chop, enters the race looking for his fifth straight win, his most recent victory coming in the Group 3 Prix Noailles in April. The best of the American contingent might be Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass winner Dance With Fate, last seen finishing sixth in the Kentucky Derby following a troubled trip. Global View won the Grade 2 American Turf Stakes at the beginning of May before a runner-up finish behind Bobby's Kitten on May 31 in the Pennsylvania Mile Stakes.

Gailo Chop finished third in his career debut last July in France and, except for a runner-up effort in his October 2013 debut, has been flawless. He has won four straight stakes races including a pair of group 3 events.  The most recent pair of wins showed his versatility because in one of them he led for most of the race and in the other he closed from off the pace to draw off. In the Prix la Force Stakes on April 6 Gailo Chop won at the same mile and one-quarter distance on grass as the Belmont Derby Invitational, that race run on a course labeled firm (dry and hard), prior to that taking another stakes on March 15 over a course labeled soft (wet and squishy). As such, no matter the condition of the Belmont sod after the late week rains, Gailo Chop will have had invaluable experience that could help him bring his 2014 record to four-for-four.

Adelaide won at the mile and one-quarter distance on turf in May when victorious in the Airlie Stud Gallinule Stakes in Ireland, on a course labeled heavy (soggy and slow). In his most recent start, the King Edward VII Stakes at Ascot, Adelaide was sent postward as the heavy favorite in a nine horse field. Rallying strongly with a quarter mile to go and making the lead before being outfinished but still easily holding second at the end. The King Edward was a mile and one-half, so the cut back to the mile and one-quarter distance of his previous win could help Adelaide return to winning form.

Toast of New York has only run on turf once, in his career debut last August, finishing fifth. However, he is a much better horse now, having won three races in a row, by margins of 12, 15 and two and one-half lengths. When last seen on March 29, Toast of New York was making short work of a 12 horse field in the U.A.E. Derby. In that race, he showed a big kick in the stretch that would make him a strong contender in the Belmont Derby if repeated.

There are no slouches among the U.S. contingent, perhaps save Sheldon, who just broke his maiden in his seventh career start and who appears overmatched in this field. However, when comparing European turf runners to American runners I feel in most instances the Europeans have the ability to close more strongly in the stretch. Additionally, I feel these European horses have faced tougher opponents.


Keeneland photo

Although there is little way to compare the European runners to the Americans, notable among the horses that have run well in the U.S. are (with their best Equibase Speed Figure this year and the stakes race it was earned in): Dance With Fate (108 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes), Bobby's Kitten (105 Pennsylvania Mile Stakes), Global View (103 American Turf Stakes), Mr Speaker (103 Lexington Stakes), Gala Award (102 Palm Beach Stakes) and Flamboyant (99 Pennine Ridge Stakes). Sheldon earned a 91 figure in his maiden win. Pornichet rounds out the field, having finished third in a group 1 race in his most recent race, in France.

My Selections:

Gailo Chop


Toast of New York

$1.25-million Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes

Saturday, Race 7,Belmont Park, Post Time 4:34 PM E.T.

1 ¼ miles on the turf, 3-year-olds







Toast of New York 

Jamie Spencer


Jamie Osborne



Junior Alvarado


J J Toner


Bobby's Kitten

Javier Castellano


Chad Brown



Colm O'Donoghue


Aidan O'Brien



Joel Rosario


Peter Gallagher


Dance With Fate 

Corey Nakatani


Pete Eurton


Gailo Chop 

J Auge


A De Watrigant



Jose Ortiz


Gai Waterhouse


Mr Speaker

Jose Lezcano


Shug McGaughey


Global View 

Gary L Stevens


Tom Proctor


Gala Award

John Velazquez


Todd Pletcher


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