inaugural running of the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational
attracted a diverse cast of 3-year-old fillies who will be traveling 1 ¼
miles over Belmont Park's turf course on Saturday.
the 11 entrants, two are from Ireland, one is from France, and another
is shipping in from Canada. Seven of the runners are based in the United
States, including five who train at Belmont.
Belmont Oaks is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" race in
the Filly & Mare Turf division. It was formerly contested in
September at Belmont as the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Garden City. The NBC
Sports Network will show the race live during a broadcast that will run
from 5-6 p.m.
Dermot Weld, who is based in Ireland and has won major races all around
the world, will attempt to win his third Grade 1 race at Belmont Park
when he sends out Flying Jib in the Belmont Oaks. Previously, Weld took
the 1990 Belmont Stakes with Go and Go and the 2003 Flower Bowl
Invitational with Dimitrova.
a 2-year-old, Flying Jib was fourth in her debut at the Curragh before
breaking her maiden by 4 ¼ lengths over the all-weather track at
Dundalk. In her final start as a juvenile, she registered a 1 ½-length
victory in the listed Silken Glider at one mile when switching back to
turf at the Curragh.
Jib, a Juddmonte Farms homebred, has made only one start this year,
showing speed and holding on to take the Group 3, seven-furlong Athasi
on May 5 at the Curragh. The Belmont Oaks will be her first start beyond
distance] has to be the biggest concern," said Weld. "She, as a filly,
is very well and she traveled very well, but [the distance] has to be
the doubt. She was a winner as a 2-year-old at a mile. This is unknown
territory for her, but she has given every indication that she will get
Pat Smullen will ride Flying Jib, the 5-1 morning-line third choice, from post position 5.
coming in from Ireland is Wonderfully, who is trained by Aidan O'Brien
for Michael Tabor. Wonderfully, who won the Group 3 Silver Flash at
Leopardstown in Ireland one year ago, has made two starts in 2014,
finishing ninth in both the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Pouliches on
good-to-soft ground on May 11 at Longchamp and the Group 1 Irish 1,000
Guineas over the heavy going on May 25 at the Curragh.
Wonderfully, 12-1 on the morning line, drew post 12. Colm O'Donoghue will ride.
the 3-1 morning-line co-favorite, has proven herself over all sorts of
ground in France. She concluded her juvenile campaign by finishing
second by a nose in the Group 3 Prix Miesque on heavy ground in November
and opened her 3-year-old account by getting up by a neck in the Prix
Imprudence on firm turf in April, both at Maisons-Laffitte. She finished
third in her past two starts, the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (beaten 3
¾ lengths) on good-to-soft grass in May and the Prix de Diane (beaten 1
¼ lengths) over a firm course on June 15 at Chantilly. The one-mile
Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and 1 5/16-mile Prix de Diane are the two
Classic races in France for fillies and were swept this year by Avenir
Francois Doumen trains Xcellence for Martin Schwartz, who purchased her following the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches.
Gerald Mosse has the assignment aboard Xcellence, who drew post 7.
Flying in from Canada is Conquest Stables' My Conquestadory, who is based at Woodbine with trainer Mark Casse.
Conquestadory won the Grade 2 Summer against males last September at
Woodbine in her first start before taking the Grade 1 Alcibiades in
October at Woodbine and finishing fourth in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup
Juvenile Fillies Turf in November at Santa Anita after breaking from
Belmont Oaks will be My Conquestadory's second start as a sophomore,
having finished second by a nose after setting the pace against three
opponents in the Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile Selene on May 18 at Woodbine.
Javier Castellano will ride My Conquestadory for the first time in the Belmont Oaks.
was a small field with no speed," said Casse of the Selene. "[That was]
not where we wanted to be. Hopefully, Javier can get her to relax. That
will be a key to getting her to go 1 ¼ miles."
My Conquestadory, 12-1, will depart from post 3.
with Xcellence at 3-1 is Room Service, a Gary and Mary West homebred
who demonstrated she can handle 1 ¼ miles when she came from well off
the pace to take the Grade 1 American Oaks by 2 ¼ lengths on May 31 at
Santa Anita. She enters the Belmont Oaks on a three-race winning streak,
capturing the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride by two lengths in March at
Gulfstream Park and dead-heating with Rosalind in the Grade 1 Ashland
over Keeneland's Polytrack in April for trainer Wayne Catalano.
Christophe Clement, one of the three locally based trainers who will
have representation in the Belmont Oaks, will send out Wonder Again
winner Sea Queen and unbeaten Summer Solo.
Stable's Sea Queen has won two straight at 1 1/8-miles, taking an
entry-level Keeneland allowance by three-quarters of a length in April
before prevailing by a half-length in the Wonder Again on May 25 at
Irad Ortiz, Jr. will guide Sea Queen, 10-1, from post 11.
Solo will make her stakes debut in the Belmont Oaks. She beat New
York-breds in her first two starts, a maiden race in November at
Aqueduct Racetrack and a Belmont allowance in May, before winning an
optional claimer by 1 ¼ lengths on June 11 at Belmont.
Owned by Sarah J. Leigh, Summer Solo, 30-1, drew post 3. Cornelio Velasquez will ride.
is not an easy race, but you don't have many chances to run a mile and a
quarter for a million dollars, so let's go," said Clement.
Thoroughbreds' Goldy Espony, one of two entrants for Chad Brown, will
make her stateside bow in the Belmont Oaks. She won a pair of races at
St. Cloud in France - the listed Prix Rose de Mai and Group 3 Prix
Penelope in April - before lagging home seventh in the Prix St Alary on
May 25 at Longchamp.
who like Wonderfully will carry the colors of Michael Tabor, began her
career in Ireland before she came to the United States, where she has
finished third in an allowance in Keeneland and second to Sea Queen in
the Wonder Again.
came to us in terrific shape and made a great impression in the barn
when she arrived over the winter," said Brown. "From the way she's been
training, I think she's sitting on a new top and we're very excited
about running her. I like what I've seen of Goldy Espony. Off her last
breeze (five furlongs, 1:01.00, June 29) she deserves a spot in the
Jose Lezcano will ride Goldy Espony (10-1) from post 1, while Joel Rosario has the call aboard Minorette (12-1) from post 9.
field also includes Rosalind, who has returned to the United States
after unseating her rider at the start of the Grade 1 Coronation on June
20 at Royal Ascot, and Recepta, who won the Chelsea Flower last fall
and was third in both the Grade 3 Appalachian and Wonder Again.