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Saturday’s $1 Million Jockey Club Derby Offers Berth to Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf

Saturday’s $1 Million Jockey Club Derby Offers Berth to Breeders’ Cup Longines Turf

ELMONT, NY – Leonard C. Green’s A Thread of Blue and Bloom Racing Stable’s Henley’s Joy square off in Saturday’s $1 million Jockey Club Derby Invitational, the third and final leg of the Turf Trinity at Belmont Park.

Henley’s Joy, who kicked off the Turf Trinity in July with a 20-1 upset of the Belmont Derby Invitational (G1) for trainer Mike Maker, will be joined by Digital Age in the 1 ½-mile Jockey Club Derby as the only two horses to contest all three legs.

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A Thread of Blue, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, made every pole a winning one in the second leg of the Turf Trinity, the inaugural edition of the $1 million Saratoga Derby.

Saturday’s rubber match will feature a field of nine contenders, including international shippers from France, England and Canada.

The Jockey Club Derby is a Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” event, with the winner receiving an automatic berth in the Longines Turf at Santa Anita Park this November.

“It would be fabulous to win two legs, but we’re just happy to be in it with a big chance,” said McLaughlin.

A Thread of Blue, a dark bay son of Hard Spun, boasts a record of 5-2-1 from 10 starts. He picked up his first stakes win at Gulfstream in February taking the Dania Beach by 3 ½-lengths, ahead of a score in the Palm Beach (G3) at the Hallandale oval.

Following a narrow defeat to Digital Age in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs in May, A Thread of Blue landed fourth in the Penn Mile (G2) on June 1.

Last out, with regular pilot Luis Saez aboard, A Thread of Blue took command of the 11-horse Saratoga Derby field from the gate and stayed strong to the wire for a convincing win.

McLaughlin said he is a little concerned about both the distance and weather heading into Saturday’s test.

“We’re not too sure about the distance and a few days ago there was no rain in the forecast, but now we have rain. He prefers it firm, so hopefully it doesn’t get too soft,” said McLaughlin. “He’s trained great coming into it and he’s run very well. We hope it stays firm. It will be a fresh new course.”

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Saez will guide A Thread of Blue from the inside post.

Henley’s Joy, a chestnut son of Kitten’s Joy, has four wins and three seconds from 12 career starts. A maiden winner at first asking last July at Ellis Park, Henley’s Joy has a flair for the dramatic winning the Kentucky Downs Juvenile by a head last September ahead of a narrow nose defeat in the Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland in October. His additional runner-up efforts include a neck loss in the Kitten’s Joy at Gulfstream Park in January and a half-length miss in the Transylvania (G3) at Keeneland in April.

With Jose Lezcano aboard for the first time, the hard-luck Henley’s Joy enjoyed a perfect trip in the Belmont Derby. Settled in third position along the rail, Henley’s Joy kicked on gamely down the lane to defeat Social Paranoia by three-quarters of a length.

With Lezcano up for the third time, Henley’s Joy will depart from post 3.

The Jockey Club Derby Invitational field from the rail out: A Thread of Blue, Current, Henley’s Joy, Pedro Cara (FR), San Huberto (IRE), Tone Broke, Kadar, Digital Age (IRE), and Spanish Mission.

The 37-day Belmont fall meet begins Friday, offering 45 stakes worth $11.525 million in purse money and eight Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” qualifiers held over two weekends.

The Jockey Club Derby is slated as Race 10 on Saturday’s 11-race card. First post is 1 p.m. with entry gates open to the public at 11 a.m.

Get our PICKS for the Jockey Club Derby Invitational here. Plus get PREMIUM PICKS and get our win, place and show bets, exacta, trifecta, and multi-race wager suggestions along with our most likely winner and best value play from each day here.

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