ELMONT, NY – Nominations were released on Monday for 13 of the 18 stakes on tap for the 2017 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, presented by NYRA Bets, attracting a total of 281 nominations.
Anchored by the 149th running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, the three-day Festival, run June 8-10, is comprised of 15 graded stakes, including six Grade 1s on Belmont Stakes Day, worth more than $9 million in total purses.
Invitations for the Grade 2, $400,000 Brooklyn, the Grade 3, $400,000 Belmont Gold Cup, the Grade 3, $300,000 Jaipur, and the Grade 3, $250,000 Bed o’ Roses are expected to be released on Friday.
Probables for the 2017 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival:
THURSDAY, JUNE 8:
Grade 3, $250,000 Intercontinental
Probable: Conquest Babayaga (Chad Brown); Fair Point (Shug McGaughey); Mississippi Delta (Mark Casse); Nobody’s Fault (Neil Pessin); Outsider Art (Jonathan Sheppard); Portmagee (Christophe Clement); Rapid Rhythm (Michael Stidham); Ruby Notion (Wesley Ward); Take These Chains (C. Brown)
Possible:Miss Ella/Miss Katie Mae (Graham Motion); Sassy Little Lila (Brad Cox)
Grade 3, $200,000 Wonder Again
Probable: Coasted (Leah Gyarmati); Corporate Queen (Casse); Dream Dancing (Casse); Enchanting Kitten (C. Brown); Fifty Five (C. Brown); New Money Honey (C. Brown)
Possible: Journey Home (Motion)
Probable: Amberspatriot (John A. Hancock); Contrarity (Hugh McMahon); One Last Cast (Todd Pletcher); Sugar Queen (Pletcher); Waki Patriot (Hancock)
Possible: Best Performance (Clement)
FRIDAY, JUNE 9:
Grade 2, $500,000 New York
Probable: Achnaha (George Weaver); Apple Betty (McGaughey); Dacita (C. Brown); Kitten’s Roar (Mike Maker); Quidura (Motion); Sea Calisi (C. Brown); Suffused (Bill Mott); Summersault (Mark Hennig); Time and Motion (Jimmy Toner)
Possible: Hawksmoor (Arnaud Delacour); Sassy Little Lila (Cox)
Grade 2, $250,000 True North
Probable: El Deal (Jorge Navarro); Fellowship (Kenneth Decker); Green Gratto (Gaston Grant); Holy Boss (Steve Asmussen); Noholdingback Bear (Brian Lynch); Roy H (Peter Miller); Stallwalkin’ Dude (David Jacobson)
Possible: A. P. Indian (Delacour); Always Sunshine (Edward Allard)
Probable: Admiral Jimmy (Pletcher); Analyze Your Luck (Pletcher); Analyze the Odds (Pletcher); Presence of Mind (Weaver); Salmanazar (Pletcher); Wonder How (John Salzman)
Possible: Ten City (Kenny McPeek)
SATURDAY, JUNE 10:
Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets
Probable: Classic Empire (Mark Casse); Epicharis (Kiyoshi Hagiwara); J Boys Echo (Dale Romans); Lookin At Lee (Steve Asmussen); Meantime (Brian Lynch); Multiplier (Brendan Walsh); Senior Investment (Kenny McPeek); Tapwrit (Todd Pletcher); True Timber (Kiaran McLaughlin); Twisted Tom (Chad Brown)
Possible: Conquest Mo Money (Miguel Hernandez); Gormley (John Shirreffs); Irish War Cry (Graham Motion); Patch (Pletcher)
Grade 1, $1.2 million Mohegan Sun Metropolitan Handicap
“Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile Division”
Probable: Awesome Slew (Casse); Connect (C. Brown); Denman’s Call (Doug O’Neill); Economic Model (C. Brown); Inside Straight (Robertino Diodoro); Mohaymen (McLaughlin); Mor Spirit (Bob Baffert); Rally Cry (Pletcher); Seymourdini (Linda Rice); Sharp Azteca (Jorge Navarro); Solid Wager (Peter Miller); Tom’s Ready (Dallas Stewart); Tommy Macho (Pletcher)
Grade 1, $1 million Woodford Reserve Manhattan
Probable: Applicator (Mikhail Yanakov); Ascend (Motion); Beach Patrol (C. Brown); Divisidero (Buff Bradley); Potemkin (Andreas Wohler); Sadler’s Joy (Albertrani); Time Test (C. Brown); Wake Forest (C. Brown); World Approval (Casse)
Grade 1, $750,000 Ogden Phipps
“Win and You’re In Breeders’ Cup Distaff Division”
Probable: Carina Mia (Bill Mott); Factory of Faith (Joe Sharp); Highway Star (Rodrigo Ubillo); Paid Up Subscriber (C. Brown); Songbird (Jerry Hollendorfer)
Possible: Annie Rocks (Jason Servis); Bar of Gold (John Kimmel)
Grade 1, $700,000 Acorn
Probable: Abel Tasman (Baffert); Benner Island (Cox); Florida Fabulous (Fawkes); My Miss Tapit (Pletcher); Nikki My Darling (Dominic Giglio); Salty (Casse); Sweet Loretta (Pletcher); Tequilita (Michael Matz); Union Strike (Ruis)
Possible: Sailor’s Valentine (Kenneally); Yellow Agate (Christophe Clement)
Grade 1, $700,000 Longines Just A Game
Probable: Antonoe (C. Brown); Celestine (Clement); Dickinson (McLaughlin); Prize Exhibit (James Cassidy); Roca Rojo (C. Brown)
Possible: Harmonize (Mott); Hawksmoor (Delacour); Sassy Little Lila (Brad Cox)
Grade 2, $500,000 Woody Stephens
Probable: American Anthem (Baffert); Aquamarine (D. Wayne Lukas); Classic Rock (Kathy Ritvo); Gold for the Kin (Charlie Baker); Hard Scramble (Asmussen); Long Haul Bay (C. Brown); The Money Monster (Mott); Wild Shot (Rusty Arnold)
Possible: Conquest Mo Money (Hernandez); Recruiting Ready (Horacio DePaz)
$150,000 Easy Goer
Probable: Giuseppe the Great (Zito); West Coast (Baffert)
Possible: Sonic Mule (Pletcher)
Senior Investment breezes half-mile for G1 Belmont
Fern Circle Stable’s Grade 3 Lexington winner Senior Investment posted a 1/2-mile breeze early Wednesday morning in preparation for his expected bid in the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, his first tune-up since finishing third in the Preakness on May 20.
Ridden by jockey Dylan Davis and overseen at Belmont by Kenny McPeek’s assistant trainer, Jeff Odintz, the chestnut colt by Discreetly Mine completed the distance in :49.13 shortly before 6 a.m. on the main track, going in splits of :12 2/5 and :24 before galloping out 5 furlongs in 1:02 2/5, according to NYRA clockers.
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“Kenny wanted him to go an easy 48 and four, 49 (seconds), and let him do it on his own,” said Odintz. “And that’s exactly what he did, Dylan did a very good job. He came back fine, like he didn’t do anything. The track was nice and quiet, he was relaxed.”
Senior Investment was disqualified from first to seventh in his seasonal bow at Fair Grounds in January but came back with a 3-length victory in an optional-claimer on February 18 at Oaklawn Park. He joined the stakes ranks with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, finishing 5 3/4 lengths behind Girvin, and posted a head victory in the Lexington at Keeneland on April 15.
In the Preakness, Senior Investment raced in ninth early with regular jockey Channing Hill aboard, 13 lengths behind dueling pacesetters Always Dreaming and Classic Empire, then closed with a rush to finish third, 4 3/4 lengths behind Cloud Computing and Classic Empire.
“I was around the horse when he ran at Oaklawn, and he’s just a really nice horse,” said Odintz. “Professional, tall, he has a long stride, and he knows what he’s doing. He can be tough to saddle in the paddock sometimes, but doing everything else, he’s a beautiful horse to be around.”
McPeek, who saddled Sarava to an upset victory over Triple Crown hopeful War Emblem in 2002, is expected to be on hand for the colt’s final work before the Belmont, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.
Lookin At Lee ‘In Great Shape’ Ahead of Belmont Bid
Lookin At Lee galloped on Wednesday morning at Belmont Park and is expected to do so again on Thursday as he prepares for the Belmont Stakes, said Toby Sheets, assistant to Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Owned by L and N Racing, the Kentucky-bred Lookin At Lee is expected to be sent out again before the break as he looks to build on a fourth-place finish in the Preakness.
“He’s been doing great; he loves the main track and came out of the Preakness in great shape,” said Sheets. “We’re very pleased with him. Steve decided (to get one work in). He’s run a lot and is very fit.”
Lookin At Lee was the runner-up in the Kentucky Derby, rallying from 17th to finish just 2 1/2 lengths behind winner Always Dreaming. He will join Classic Empire as the only two horses to have started in all three legs of the 2017 Triple Crown.
The son of Lookin At Lucky – the 2010 Eclipse Award-winning 3-year-old colt – will be making his ninth consecutive start against graded stakes competition while looking for his first win at that level.
Tapwrit in Good Order for Belmont; Final Decision Pending for Patch
Tapwrit is expected to breeze one final time before the Belmont Stakes on the main track on either Friday or Saturday, depending on the weather, trainer Todd Pletcher said at his barn Wednesday morning.
“We’re just keeping an eye on the forecast,” Pletcher said. “So far, he’s doing great.”
Tapwrit, who ran sixth in the Kentucky Derby, breezed on Saturday, May 27, over the Belmont training track. Tapwrit’s regular jockey, Jose Ortiz, will be in the irons for the 1 1/2-mile “Test of the Champion.”
Pletcher added that Patch, who is also slated to breeze on Friday, remains a possibility for the Belmont Stakes.
“We haven’t made a decision on the Belmont yet,” he said. “We’re going to wait and see how this breeze goes. He’s doing well. I think the mile-and-a-1/2 suites him. It looks like a huge field, we just need to see how this week goes.”
The famously one-eyed Patch has just four career starts, including a 14th-place Derby finish in his last race. The son of Union Rags was the runner-up in his stakes debut, the Louisiana Derby. Should he run, Hall-of-Famer John Velazquez will have the call.