Belmont Park was the place to be last Saturday, with the Stars and Stripes Festival of Racing providing several quality stakes races. In total, there were five stakes on the card, and each winner deserved to be on this list. Here are the three who we decided were most worthy of the highest honor in racing: The Racing Dudes Three Stars of the Week.
It’s clear that trainer Jimmy Jerkens knows who to win the Suburban Handicap (G2). After winning back-to-back editions in 2015 and 2016 with Effinex, his latest triumph came on Saturday with Preservationist. Bet down to 7/2 in the final stages of wagering, Preservationist broke like a shot out of the gate, going immediately to the front. Up the backside, the favored Catholic Boy took the lead while Preservationist hugged the rail in second. Turning for home, Catholic Boy was in front racing off the rail, which allowed Preservationist to come up the inside, putting away Catholic Boy with ease at the top of the stretch. From there, the party was over, as Preservationist poured it on down the stretch to win the race by 4 1/2 lengths. He now becomes a player in a wide-open handicap division this season.
2. Henley’s Joy
This season’s wide-open 3-year-old division was on full display once again in Saturday’s running of the Belmont Derby (G1). After struggling this season, Henley’s Joy found his form at the perfect time, winning the Belmont Derby at a hefty 20/1. Several of the heavily-backed horses raced way off the pace while Henley’s Joy sat in third early. Turning for home, it was clear that the closers had way too much work left to do, which left Henley’s Joy and Social Paranoia to fight it out down the stretch. Nearing the wire, Social Paranoia had the lead and looked home free, only to be caught near the finish line by Henley’s Joy. The final margin of victory was 3/4 of a length, which should give Henley’s Joy plenty of momentum heading into the second leg of the Turf Trinity, the inaugural Saratoga Derby (G1).
3. Concrete Rose
Concrete Rose is simply on fire this season. She left no doubt last Saturday in the Belmont Oaks (G1) for her third straight victory. The filly by Twirling Candy sat in second up the backside in a perfect stalking position, just 1 length off of the pace-setting Jodie. As they made the turn, Concrete Rose had already taken the lead, and she turned the race into a laugher down the lane. The final margin of victory was 2 3/4 lengths, with second-place finisher Just Wonderful never threatening the winner. This filly looks like she has a solid chance at sweeping the Turf Tiara, with the next challenge coming in four weeks at Saratoga in the first-ever Saratoga Oaks (G1).