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ELMONT, NY – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown knows how to go the distance in the $200,000 Intercontinental (G3), having saddled 3 of its 7 winners and the first 4 home last year. On Thursday at Belmont Park, he returns with a potent pair in the 7-furlong turf test for fillies and mares, including last year’s runner-up Regal Glory and an intriguing upstart in Publication.
The eighth running of the Intercontinental is 1 of 3 stakes on Thursday’s 9-race card on Opening Day of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which concludes Saturday, June 5 with a loaded card featuring 8 Grade 1s, headlined by the 153rd $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) presented by NYRA Bets that concludes the Triple Crown series.
Thursday’s 9-race card, which offers a 3:05 p.m. Eastern first post, features a trio of stakes offerings, including the $200,000 Wonder Again (G3), a 9-furlong turf sprint for sophomore fillies; and the $150,000 Astoria, a 5 1/2-furlong sprint for juvenile fillies on Big Sandy. The Intercontinental will go as Race 6 at 5:40 p.m. Eastern.
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Peter Brant’s Regal Glory parlayed last year’s Intercontinental to a fourth-place finish in the Longines Just a Game (G1) before capping her season with a gritty victory in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes (G3) – both over 1 mile. Shortening to 7 panels on the Widener course may be a welcome change for the 5-year-old chestnut daughter of Animal Kingdom, as she is 2 for 2 in sprints.
Additionally, the likelihood of some give in the ground on Thursday will be advantageous, as 6 of her 7 wins [from 12 starts] were over wet turf, including Aqueduct’s Plenty of Grace on April 11.
“Regal Glory is doing super and she knows this race well,” Brown said. “With the forecast the way it is, and as you can see in her past performances, she handles soft ground very well. It could end up working out for her.”
Juddmonte’s Publication is a lightly-raced blueblood by Tapit out of Filimbi, a Grade 2-winning daughter of Kentucky Oaks winner Flute who placed in four Grade 1s including the Just a Game. The Intercontinental will be the 4-year-old’s fourth career start but first without a layoff, as she was an impressive allowance winner on April 24 at Aqueduct. Last July, she broke her maiden over this course and distance.
“We’ve thought a lot of Publication since the beginning,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, she’s had a lot of interruptions in her development, but she’s doing really well right now. She’s a fiery filly with a lot of Tapit in her in a good way and is very forward in her training.
“She’s all racehorse and every time she’s there for you in her work,” he added. “I’ve been really looking forward to getting her into stakes races, but unfortunately because of some minor setbacks, I haven’t been able to do it. This is the perfect opportunity at this distance. I don’t know about the ground and don’t yet have a feel for that with her. It looks like it’s going to have some moisture and there’s more rain in the forecast. She’s out of a wonderful family and I’ve had a couple out of Filimbi that I like, including a 3-year-old colt.”
Regal Glory drew post 8 and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, while Publication will have the services of Hall of Famer Javier Castellano from the rail.
Regal Glory Reigns Supreme in the Plenty of Grace
Shipping in for the capable Florida-based barn of Saffie Joseph Jr. is Joseph M. Imbesi’s Sweet Bye and Bye. The 6-year-old daughter of Sky Mesa is seeking her ninth career victory and exiting a strong win in Gulfstream Park’s listed Sand Springs on March 27. An allowance winner over this course when in the care of Tony Dutrow last August, she makes her third start for Joseph Jr. and will break from post 2 under Irad Ortiz Jr.
“She’s a grand mare,” Joseph Jr. said. “She came to us with a proven resume. She ran 2 races for us already. Her first race, she ran second with a credible effort, and the second race [Sand Springs], she won well. I thought she improved a bit last out and ran close to her top numbers that day. I feel like she’s sitting on a good race.
“We were in between two minds of going to the Intercontinental or the Just a Game, but I think we’re going into the Intercontinental as the first or second choice,” Joseph Jr. continued. “It would be a really nice race to win.”
Heavy Favorite Sweet Bye And Bye Wins Sand Springs
Horseshoe Racing’s Michelle Lovell-trained Change of Control, winner of Keeneland’s Giant’s Causeway on April 10 and a strong runner-up 19 days later in Churchill Downs’ Unbridled Sidney Stakes, must also be respected when she breaks from post 4 under Colby Hernandez.
Mike Maker-trained stakes winner I’llhandalthecash [post 7, Luis Saez] and local stakes alumni Madeleine Must [post 5, Joel Rosario] and Piedi Bianchi [post 6, Manny Franco] have also been entered.
Last-out dirt allowance winners Subsidiary and Aunt Kat have been entered for the main track only.
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