- Owner / Lael Stables
- Breeder / Katsumi Yoshida
- Owner / Godolphin, LLC
- Breeder / Godolphin
- Owner / Madaket Stables LLC, Naify, Marsha and De Seroux, Laura
- Breeder / Ecurie du Sud
- Owner / Paul P. Pompa, Jr.
- Breeder / Curt Leake
The purse is lower than usual – just $250,000, down from $750,000 in 2019. The date is different too – Sept. 19 instead of early July. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an impact on Saturday’s Grade 1 Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park, but the 1 ¼-mile turf test has nevertheless found its place on the revised racing calendar, and five talented 3-year-old fillies are set to contest the postponed renewal.
From the rail out, the Belmont Oaks contenders will line up as follows:
#1 Setting the Mood: A daughter of the versatile Grade 1 winner Lea, Setting the Mood is technically 1-for-5 overall and 0-for-4 racing on turf. But this is deceptive because Setting the Mood has finished second three times on grass, most notably in a 1 3/8-mile allowance race on Aug. 26 at Saratoga. The Todd Pletcher-trained filly carved out the pace before losing by a head in the stretch drive, and she figures to be a pace factor again while cutting back slightly in distance.
#2 Magic Attitude: It’s safe to say Magic Attitude is bred to be a top-class turf filly. Sired by the European superstar stallion Galileo, Magic Attitude was produced by the Exceed and Excel mare Margot Did, winner of the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes and previously the dam of Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup runner-up Mission Impassible. Magic Attitude herself has shown a high level of form in France, finishing second in the 1 ¼-mile Group 1 Prix Saint Alary and fifth – beaten just three lengths – in the prestigious 1 5/16-mile Group 1 Prix de Diane Longines. But Magic Attitude is accustomed to racing over soft ground, and it’s unclear how she’ll handle firm turf in her U.S. debut.
#3 Key Biscayne: Although this Florida-bred daughter of Brethren has yet to win against open company (her two victories have come against fellow state-breds), Key Biscayne held her own against graded stakes competition during the Saratoga meet. After charging late to finish fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes, Key Biscayne stretched out over 1 3/16-miles and improved to third place in the $500,000 Saratoga Oaks. A late runner, Key Biscayne is capable of finishing on the board in the Belmont Oaks, but she’ll need a step forward to reach the winner’s circle.
#4 Neige Blanche: The well-traveled Neige Blanche relished soft ground when claiming the 1 3/8-mile Group 3 Prix Cleopatre in France, and she wasn’t disgraced when tackling firm turf in her U.S. debut, rallying belatedly to finish fourth in the 1 1/8-mile Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks. Stretching back out in distance should help this stretch-running daughter of Anodin, but there isn’t much pace in the Belmont Oaks field, so Neige Blanche could be disadvantaged by a slow early tempo.
#5 Antoinette: A stakes winner on both dirt and turf, Antoinette delivered a career-best performance in the 1 3/16-mile Saratoga Oaks last month, leading all the way to defeat the Grade 2 Lake Placid Stakes runner-up Stunning Sky in determined fashion. Stunning Sky appeared to have winning momentum down the homestretch, but Antoinette flat-out refused to lose, battling back down the stretch to prevail by half a length. A Godolphin homebred, Antoinette sprinted the final three-sixteenths of a mile in a rapid :17.29, demonstrating her effective combination of speed and stamina.
Racing for Hall of Fame inductees John Velazquez (jockey) and Bill Mott (trainer), Antoinette figures to enjoy a perfect trip setting or stalking a modest pace in the Belmont Oaks. Her gutsy effort over 1 3/16 miles in the Saratoga Oaks bodes well for her ability to handle a slightly longer distance at Belmont Park, stamping this daughter of Hard Spun as the filly to beat on Saturday.
With such a small field in the mix, betting the Belmont Oaks should be fairly straightforward. I suggest playing Antoinette on top of exacta or trifecta tickets (depending on your budget) while strongly emphasizing Magic Attitude underneath. If we’re correct, and Antoinette follows up her Saratoga Oaks effort with another gutsy victory, we should be rewarded with a solid payoff.
Wagering Strategy on a $10 Budget
$10 exacta: 5 with 2
What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 5th race, $10 exacta 5 with 2
Wagering Strategy on a $30 Budget
$6 trifecta: 5 with 2 with 1,3,4 ($18)
What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 5th race, $6 trifecta 5 with 2 with 1,3,4
$4 trifecta: 5 with 1,3,4 with 2 ($12)
What to say at the betting window: Belmont Park, 5th race, $4 trifecta 5 with 1,3,4 with 2
Good luck, and enjoy the race!