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Dance With Fate, Gailo Chop Eye Belmont Derby

The inaugural Grade 1, $1.25 million Belmont Derby Invitational might be seven weeks away, but the 1 ¼-mile turf race on July 5 already has been selected as the next start for Gailo Chop, a two-time Group 3 winner in France, and Dance With Fate, who captured the Grade 1 Blue Grass in April at Keeneland before finishing sixth in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby.

 

Gailo Chop, a gelded son of Deportivo, has stamped himself as one of the most promising 3-year-olds in Europe but is ineligible for races such as the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas) and the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby), which are restricted to colts and fillies. In two starts this year, Gailo Chop has won the Group 3 Prix la Force by three-quarters of a length on April 6 and the Group 3 Prix Noailles by 1 ¾ lengths on April 21. Both starts came at Longchamp.

 

Antoine Watrigant trains Gailo Chop for OTI Management and Alain Chopard. OTI bought into Gailo Chop earlier this year upon the advice of bloodstock agent Emmanuel de Seroux.

 

"There are a number of factors [why Gailo Chop is running in the Belmont Derby," said Terry Henderson, one of OTI's co-founders. "No. 1, he can't start in the classics in France because he's a gelding. Second, the race was suggested to us by a pair of people we respect: [trainer] Christophe Clement and Emmanuel de Seroux. Third, the purse being paid out got our attention. Put it this way, if the race was worth what is was worth last year ($500,000 as the Jamaica Handicap in October), we wouldn't be considering the race."

 

Henderson said Gailo Chop will train up to the Belmont Derby in France and will fly to New York the week of the race.

 

Dance With Fate already has proven himself on synthetic tracks, having won the Blue Grass by 1 ¾ lengths over Keeneland's Polytrack after finishing second by a half-length in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby in March over Golden Gate Fields' Tapeta surface. He gave a solid account of himself when sixth, beaten 6 ¼ lengths in the Kentucky Derby, but his connections want to see if he can excel against the best 3-year-old grass horses. In one turf start, Dance With Fate won an entry-level optional claimer in January at Santa Anita.

 

"The Belmont Derby seems like it will become a premier race for 3-year-olds, and we want to find out just how good he is running on turf," said Peter Eurton, who trains Dance With Fate for Sharon Alesia, Bran Jam Stable, and Ciaglia Racing. "He ran well in his one start on the turf and does well on synthetic surfaces, and they say horses who do well on synthetic often do well on turf. There's also the attraction of the purse, and everybody loves New York."

 

 

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