ELMONT, N.Y. – Belmont Park will feature a quartet of graded stakes on Saturday headlined by the first Grade 1 of the spring/summer meet, the $400,000 Man o’ War on the turf, along with the Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan for 3-year-olds, the Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian for fillies and mares and the Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay for turf fillies and mares.
Likely to defend his title in the 1 3/8-mile Man o’ War is West Point Thoroughbreds’ Twilight Eclipse, who will look to move forward in his third start of the year following a sixth-place finish on April 23 in the Grade 2 Elkhorn Stakes at Keeneland. He is expected to be joined by stablemate Biz the Nurse, who was Group 1-placed in Italy but winless in two graded stakes start in the United States.
Also probable are Kaigun, who finished second in the Elkhorn after taking theGrade 2 Pan American at Gulfstream Park on April 2; the French-bred filly Morandi for owner Martin Schwartz and trainer Chad Brown; Pan American runner-up Wake Forest, and Irish-bred Can’thelpbelieving for trainer Graham Motion and owner Albert Frassetto. Money Multiplier is possible.
Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan
Treadway Racing Stable’s Adventist, who climbed as high as No. 22 on the Kentucky Derby points list, highlights the expected field for Saturday’s 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan, the traditional local prep for the Grade 1, $1.5 million Belmont Stakes on June 11.
The Leah Gyarmati-trained bay colt has posted three consecutive third-place showings in graded stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack, including a strong finish last time out on April 9 in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial when he rallied from sixth at the stretch to finish just 2 1/4 lengths behind winner and Derby starter Outwork.
“He’s doing really well,” said Gyarmati. “I think this track [Belmont Park] will help. He has a lot of room; nice wide turns and [we’ll] try to keep him clear. He’s had some chances to be in the clear but things happen and horses come out and bump him. But that’s racing. You need to be able to handle that.”
“I’d like [the Belmont Stakes] to be the long-term goal. We’ll see how he runs in the Peter Pan.”
Centennial Farms’ Unified has a small but impressive body of work, taking theGrade 3 Bay Shore at Aqueduct in his second start. The James Jerkens-trained bay colt won the seven-furlong race in 1:22.86 to best an impressive field that featured next out Gold Fever winner King Kranz.
Governor Malibu, trained by Christophe Clement, will be making his graded stakes debut after winning two of his last three starts. The Jump Sucker Stable’s chestnut colt, 2-3-1 from six starts, finished first by a nose on April 9 in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Laurel Park but was disqualified to second.
Also targeting the Peter Pan is Awesome Speed, a son of 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Awesome Again who was declared the winner of the Tesio for his second win in three starts this year.
Making their stakes debuts would be Wild About Deb, who broke his maiden at Santa Anita last month for trainer Philip D’Amato, and the Nick Zito-trained Singleton, who will be looking for his first career win after going 0-1-1 in four maiden races.
Grade 2, $250,000 Ruffian
The one-mile Ruffian is expected to attract Stonestreet Stables’ multiple graded stakes winner Cavorting, who has two wins from three lifetime starts at Belmont. She kicked off her 2016 campaign on April 17 at Aqueduct with a second-place finish in the Grade 3 Distaff Handicap.
Likely to line up against her are the Phipps’ Stable’s Carrumba, who most recently picked up a victory in the Grade 3 Top Flight Handicap at the Big A, and Include Betty for trainer Tom Proctor and owner Brereton C. Jones, who comes off a third-place finish at Aqueduct on March 5 in the Heavenly Prize Stakes.
Calamity Kate, Call Pat, Camille Claudel, Makena, and Sarah Sis also are possible.
Grade 3, $150,000 Beaugay
An experienced field will comprise Saturday’s 39th running of the Beaugay at 1 1/16 miles on the Widener turf.
Trainer Chad Brown could see two of his fillies enter, including the W.S. Farish-owned Ball Dancing, who has two graded stakes victories on her resume: the 2015 Grade 1 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont Park. Wekeela, a Group 3 winner in her native France, finished second in her United States debut in the 2016 Jenny Wiley.
Also likely are Evidently, ninth last month in a listed stakes race at Tampa Bay Downs; My Miss Sophia, making her first start since finishing third in the 2015 Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland forHall of Fametrainer Bill Mott; Recepta, fifth in the Jenny Wiley in her 2016 debut, and Sistas Stroll, looking for her first stakes win since the2014 Grade 3 Pucker Up at Arlington Park.
Expected as well are Strike Charmer, runner-up in thePlenty of Grace last month at Aqueduct for trainer Mark Henning; the Irish-bred Ticking Katie, who won her American debut at Belmont last year in an optional claimer; and Tapitry, fourth in the 2015 Grade 2 Sands Point at Belmont in her only other stakes start for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey.
$100,000 Flat Out
Rounding out the weekend stakes action at Belmont on Sunday is the $100,000 Flat Out for 4-year-olds and up at 1 3/8 miles. Trainer Ian Wilkes and owner Waldorf Racing Stables LLC’s Neck ‘n Neck is expected to headline a field that likely will include Mossarosa’s Catholic Cowboy, who has won his last two starts including the Old Hickory at Gulfstream Park; Securitz for Centennial Farms, who comes in off an allowance win at Gulfstream on February 24; Stymie winner Turco Bravo for Winning Move Stable and trainer Gary Contessa, who last out finished third in the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct on April 9, and Winter Games for BranJam Stable and trainer John Toscano. Also possible are either Elnaawi or Farhaan for Shadwell Stable.