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ELMONT, NY – Team Valor International homebred mare Oleksandra stands as good a chance as any when she faces seven boys in Saturday’s $250,000 Jaipur Stakes Presented by America’s Best Racing (G1) at Belmont Park.
After failing to win 3 starts in her native Australia, Oleksandra moved stateside and joined Hall of Fame trainer Neil Drysdale’s string in southern California. She has won 6 events since the move, all in turf sprints, with her signature victory coming in last fall’s Buffalo Trace Franklin County Stakes (G3) at Keeneland. She also faced and defeated male counterparts in a high-level optional claiming event over this same inner turf course and at the identical 6-furlong distance.
The winner of the Jaipur will receive an automatic position in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (G1) this fall at Keeneland. Pre-entry and entry fees will be paid and a nominator award of $10,000 will be given to the nominating person. Also, all Breeders’ Cup starters based outside of the state of Kentucky will receive a travel allowance of $10,000 if based in North America and $40,000 if based Internationally.
Let’s take a look at the full field:
#1 Kanthaka – A two-time graded stakes winner on dirt in 2018, he failed to find the same success in four starts last season. Unraced since finishing third in his lone turf sprint on May 25, 2019, he reemerges here as a first-time gelding while debuting for trainer Graham Motion, who has won 8 of the past 38 starts with newcomers to his barn.
#2 Oleksandra – The field’s lone female looms a dangerous threat, having put together a 6-furlong record of 5-2-1-2 to date. She makes her second start of the year after just missing in the 5 1/2-furlong Monrovia Stakes (G2), she carries a field-low 117 pounds (3-7 fewer than her rivals), and her late running style should play a factor against the projected pace
#3 Texas Wedge – In his last 6 starts, he has put together 3 wins and 2 seconds while never being defeated more than 1 3/4 lengths. That line includes stakes scores in the Joe Hernandez (G2) at Santa Anita Park and the World of Trouble Turf Sprint at Gulfstream Park, so while this is his New York circuit debut, he has shown no trouble adapting to new surroundings.
#4 Pure Sensation – The 2016 edition champion finished fourth in 2017 and third in 2018, with both defeats coming at the hands of his Christophe Clement stablemate Disco Partner. The speedy 9-year-old Patricia Generazio homebred will try to punch his fifth ticket to the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint after finishing fifth in last year’s edition.
#5 Stubbins – The fourth-place finisher in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, he made his seasonal debut in the Daytona Stakes (G3) last time out at Santa Anita Park, where he finished third within a 1/2-length of his winning Doug O’Neill stablemate Wildman Jack. He very well could have won that race if not for steadying late and will try to work out a cleaner trip under Luis Saez.
#6 Hidden Scroll – The once highly-regarded Juddmonte Farms homebred tried turf for the first time in his most recent effort, but he stumbled so badly out of the gate that he sent jockey John Velazquez airborne. He was the 3/1 favorite that day and has worked solidly on turf before and since that incident, plus the fact that Velazquez will hop back in the saddle is a testament to his ability.
#7 White Flag – The “other” Christophe Clement trainee in the gate is this 6-year-old War Front offspring, who makes his 2020 debut after most recently finishing eighth in last September’s Turf Sprint Stakes (G3) at Kentucky Downs. Though he failed to win a graded stakes race in his first 6 attempts at that level, he does have a 6-furlong grass distance record of 8-3-1-2 that includes the 2017 Allied Forces Stakes over this same inner turf course.
#8 Lonhtwist – He takes a big leap up to the top level after finishing tenth in the First Defence Stakes on June 7, his first start of 2020. Of his 3 wins from 16 starts, 1 of those came over this course and distance against allowance foes last October, and he has never missed the board in 6 starts while running in 6-furlong turf sprints.
The Jaipur serves as race 9 on the Saturday card at Belmont Park. The track will also host the Belmont Stakes (G1), the Acorn Stakes (G1), the Woody Stephens Stakes (G1), the Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2), and the Wonder Again Stakes (G3).
The American-based Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” events continue on June 27 at Churchill Downs with the Fleur de Lis Stakes (G2) (Longines Distaff) and the Stephen Foster Stakes (G2) (Longines Classic).
The Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series is presented by America’s Best Racing.
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