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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."