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ELMONT, NY – Otter Bend Stables’ Grade 1-winning homebred Gufo will stretch out in distance for Monday’s inaugural running of the $150,000 Grand Couturier, a 12-furlong Widener turf test for older horses at Belmont Park.
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Trained by Christophe Clement, the 4-year-old Declaration of War chestnut won 4 of 6 sophomore starts, including victories in the 9-furlong Kent (G3) at Delaware Park and the 10-furlong Belmont Derby Invitational (G1).
Clement said Gufo will add blinkers following late-running losses in his last 3 starts, including narrow defeats in the Hollywood Derby (G1) by a neck in November at Del Mar and the Man o’ War (G1) by a nose in May at Belmont.
Last out, Gufo raced from 17 lengths off the pace before closing to finish third in the 10-furlong Manhattan (G1) on June 5 at Belmont.
“He’s always way, way out of it and we’re just trying to get him closer,” said Clement regarding the equipment change. “He’s not going to be on the pace, but it would be great to have him not too far out of it. He’s doing well and training well and I love the idea of running him back at Belmont.”
Clement said the Grand Couturier could serve as a steppingstone to the 12-furlong $750,000 Resorts World Casino Sword Dancer (G1), slated for August 28 at Saratoga, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) in November at Del Mar.
“The plan is to get to the Sword Dancer at Saratoga. That’s our main summer goal,” said Clement.
Joel Rosario retains the mount from post 6.
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Woodslane Farm’s multiple graded stakes winner Sadler’s Joy will make his first start since a fourth-place finish in the Pan American (G2) on March 27 at Gulfstream Park.
Trained by Tom Albertrani, the $2.6 million earner who captured the 2017 Sword Dancer is in search of his first win since the 2019 Red Smith (G3) at Aqueduct. The 8-year-old Kitten’s Joy chestnut did cross the wire first in last year’s Bowling Green (G2) at Saratoga but was disqualified and placed fourth.
Jose Ortiz has the call from post 3.
Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will saddle a pair of contenders in Summer Wind Equine’s Moon Over Miami and Trinity Farm’s Red Knight.
Red Knight, a New York-born homebred, captured the Sycamore (G3) in October at Keeneland going the Grand Couturier distance. The 7-year-old Pure Prize gelding boasts a record of 24-8-8-1, with 4 of those scores arriving on the Belmont turf including the 2019 Point of Entry at 12 furlongs.
Moon Over Miami, a Kentucky homebred, closed from 15 lengths back to finish third, defeated a neck, last out in the Man o’ War going 1 3/8 miles on the Belmont turf. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon colt captured the Dueling Grounds Derby at 1 5/16 miles on the Kentucky Downs turf in September.
Junior Alvarado will pilot Moon Over Miami from post 5, while Manny Franco will guide Red Knight from the inside post.
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Three Diamonds Farm’s Tide of the Sea, a 5-year-old son of English Channel bred in Kentucky by Juddmonte Farms, will look to make amends after finishing last of 9 in the Belmont Gold Cup (G2), contested at 2 miles over yielding turf.
Trained by Mike Maker, Tide of the Sea captured the 12-furlong William L. McKnight (G3) in January at Gulfstream Park and followed with a close second in the 11-furlong Mac Diarmida (G2) at the same track.
Tide of the Sea will emerge from post 7 under Luis Saez.
Rounding out a talented field are Fantasioso (post 2, Javier Castellano), Epic Bromance (post 4, Joe Bravo), Burning Bright (post 8, Eric Cancel), Shamrocket (post 9, Irad Ortiz Jr.), and Kinenos (post 10, Jose Lezcano).
The Grand Couturier is slated as race 6 on Monday’s 9-race card. First post is 1 PM Eastern.
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